Cisco: focus on security and collaboration for hybrid work

By Paddy Smith
A new report from Cisco studies how companies can optimise their working environments for a cloud-first world...

Cisco says companies should focus on security and collaboration to optimise the experience of hybrid working in a cloud-first world.

The company has produced a report – Accelerating Digital Agility – that aims to help CIO’s and IT decision makers maximise investments and drive innovation.

Cloud investment

According to Cisco, 56 per cent of IT decision makers are investing in cloud applications, 56 per cent in network security, 51 per cent in cloud security, and 45 per cent in multi-cloud infrastructure in 2021/22.

The report covers advice for IT leaders who are under pressure to deliver secure collaboration tools for a distributed workforce while maximising cost-value and delivering the best end-user experience possible.

IT teams, it says, must embrace cloud and XaaS, as well as “tackling corporate and societal issues with technology”.

‘Speed, flexibility and choice’

Liz Centoni, Cisco's chief strategy officer and GM, applications, said, “"IT leaders are at the forefront of ensuring critical success for their organizations in 2021. Even as questions remain and new challenges will surface, CIOs and IT decision makers are telling us they need to accelerate digital agility for their teams, so they have the speed, flexibility and choice to consume services across both traditional and modern environments.

Accelerating Digital Agility – key findings

  • To prepare for the future of work, teams need highly secure access and the best collaboration experiences to succeed as a hybrid workforce. While a majority (61 per cent) of CIOs and ITDMs are unsure of what the future of work looks like, 89 per cent believe that maintaining security, control, and governance across user devices, networks, clouds, and applications is essential. Most (86 per cent agree it is important to empower a distributed workforce with seamless access to applications and high-quality collaborative experiences. Securing the expanded threat landscape created by a distributed workforce is paramount – 88 per cent believe it is important to secure remote work tools and protect customer or employee data in the distributed work environment.
  • IT teams must create optimized end-user experiences to keep pace with IT environments that have become increasingly distributed, dynamic, and complex. More than three-fourths of the CIOs and ITDMs surveyed agree that user experience should focus on delight versus satisfaction. To deliver a great user experience, 89 per cent think it is important to ensure a consistent application performance across both the application and infrastructure, and 86 per cent believe it is important to make infrastructure as dynamic as application software to meet the changing policy and optimisation needs of the application and developer. While the user experience should aim to delight, nearly all (90 per cent) say it is important or very important to maintain application-to-infrastructure security to meet compliance without slowing down the business.
  • The need for agility, speed, scalability and security is driving adoption of hybrid cloud environments and SASE (Secure Access Service Edge) solutions. CIOs and ITDMs are using cloud to achieve business resilience. However, there is no one-size-fits-all cloud solution. While most CIOs and ITDMs (84 per cent) agree it is important to offer freedom of choice when it comes to cloud environments – whether on premises, public cloud, private cloud or SaaS – 86 per cent think offering a consistent operational model across these environments is essential. Nearly 70 per cent of CIOs and ITDMs have adopted SASE solutions because they were investing in cloud applications that needed to be secured (61 per cent), they like to stay up-to-date on industry best practices (56 per cent) and/or their workforce is going to stay distributed (37 per cent).
  • Customers expect a cloud-consumption experience regardless of whether their solutions are deployed on-prem or in the cloud, leading to widespread adoption of "as a Service" solutions. Of those surveyed, 73 per cent have adopted ‘as a Service’ solutions and 76 per cent use flexible consumption models. Three fourths of those surveyed believe that ‘as a Service’ will help deliver a better experience for the end user and a better experience for IT teams, helping their organizations achieve operational consistency. In addition, 76 per cent say ‘as a Service’ will provide better business outcomes, and 77 per cent want ‘as a Service’ solutions to simplify processes and remove risk.
  • Technology will be a driving factor in the facilitation of CIOs and ITDMs to tackle talent retention, internal corporate initiatives and broader societal issues in 2021. Most CIOs and ITDMs (85 per cent) believe the ability to attract and retain talent in the all-digital world will be critical. Nearly half of those surveyed said they are upskilling current talent (49 per cent) and investing in talent in new areas (46%) over the next 12 months. Most CIOs and ITDMs (90 per cent) plan to tackle internal initiatives in 2021, including sustainability (50 per cent), employee mental health (50 per cent), privacy (47 per cent), diversity and inclusion (47 per cent). In addition, 85 per cent will tackle external societal issues in 2021, including digital divide (39 per cent), healthcare (37 per cent), climate change (35 per cent), social justice (34 per cent), human rights (33 per cent), misinformation or "fake news" (31 per cent), poverty, hunger and homelessness (28 per cent)

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