What are IT leaders priorities after a year of disruption?
The COVID-19 pandemic has been felt across the globe, impacting industries and their functions. It has especially affected the IT industry, bringing a new set of challenges that have upended normal operations.
The Snow Software’s 2021 IT Priorities Report, which surveyed 1,000 IT leaders and 3,000 workers across the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, and Australia, found data that suggests the IT landscape is changing rapidly, and these changes are compounded by the challenges of enabling the workforce in new ways.
IT leaders reported that their biggest challenges over the past 12 months were managing cybersecurity threats (43%), implementing new technologies (40%), and supporting remote work (39%). For 63% of IT leaders, technology management has also become more difficult over the past 12 months.
Solving these challenges can require new technologies, time, and agreements within the organisation. Many problems are not solved overnight, therefore it is no surprise that technology investments increased across the board. When asked if the organisation’s investment in various types of technology had changed over the past 12 months, IT leaders indicated they had increased spending on cloud infrastructure (76%), SaaS applications (71%), hardware (66%) and on-premises software (62%). The only notable area of reduced investment was on-prem software, with 11% of leaders reporting they had cut spending in that area.
Unaccounted for technology
The report found that both IT leaders (72%) and employees (52%) agreed that security is the most pressing business problem caused by unaccounted for and unmanaged technology. But there is a lower level of awareness for additional issues, especially among employees, with 16% believing unaccounted for and unmanaged technologies does not cause any business problems whatsoever.
87% of IT leaders reported that they were audited by a software vendor in the past 12 months. In terms of which vendors are auditing the most, Microsoft came in number one accounting for 60% of audits, followed closely by IBM (40%), Oracle (34%), Adobe (31%) and SAP (30%). Just 1% of leaders said they were audited by another vendor, with write-ins including Amazon, Cisco and Micro Focus.
The sudden disruption of 2020 made defining priorities for 2021 especially difficult for IT leaders. Looking to the future, over three-quarters of IT leaders said the pace of digital transformation has significantly increased in the past year, and it is unlikely to slow down as organisations continue to adapt. And while adopting new technologies was tied as a top priority, implementing new technologies was also IT’s second-biggest challenge.
What is the metaverse and why is everyone talking about it?
What is the metaverse?
Think of the metaverse as internet 2.0 (not to be confused with web 2.0, which we saw off in the 00s). It’s a catch-all term designed to incorporate virtual and augmented reality, social, the internet and, crucially, real life. Critics argue that it is being used to replace useful subsets of technology that are distinct entities in their own right. Proponents counter that the components are on course to merge into a single entity and that the move to a singular phrase is helpful to trammelling technology towards that goal. Rather than describing an air-intake filter, carburettor, piston chamber, cam drive and gearing system by their respective parts, you come up with a term for the collective – the internal combustion engine. So it is with the metaverse, or that’s the theory.
Where did the term ‘metaverse’ come from?
The metaverse is actually not new at all. The term comes from Neal Stephenson’s 1992 sci-fi novel Snow Crash, where is was used to describe a VR successor to the internet. It’s actually a similar concept to William Gibson’s cyberspace (Burning Chrome, 1982) though since cyberspace has entered general usage to talk about the internet, an alternative was needed.
Who is talking about the metaverse and why?
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, in a virtual call with employees, said the company’s work would focus on products for communities, creators, commerce and virtual reality. “What I think is most interesting,” he said, “is how these themes will come together into a bigger idea. Our overarching goal across all of these initiatives is to help bring the metaverse to life.” He went on to describe it as an “embodied internet”.
Zuckerberg isn’t alone. In January, venture capitalist and writer Matthew Ball (who was previously head of strategy at Amazon Studios) penned an article on the characteristics of the metaverse. And Microsoft’s Satya Nadella mentioned the “enterprise metaverse” on a call in late July. A near 20-year-old term does not suddenly crop up among a handful of exalted tech names without becoming either a trend (or a source of derision).
Metaverse: trend or bust
It’s too early to say whether Silicon Valley is jumping the gun on the metaverse. It certainly doesn’t sound like the sort of phrase you can imagine explaining to your grandparents with a straight face or casually mentioning during conversation. But you could say the same of robotic process automation, which is big business. Whatever the status of the phrase, the theme – of tying together disparate, or at least separate, tiers and types of technology into a connected whole seems completely in line with industrial technological trends. Let’s hear it for the metaverse, and hope the phrase is used as sparingly as ‘cyberspace’.