The Top 5 Technical Challenges and Predictions for 2021

6 Min. Read

As the calendar flips to 2021, we are looking at the top technical challenges IT faces in 2021, as well as offering my top predictions for the coming 12 months.

Introduction

The shift in modern business now revolves around a new IT concept – the digital transformation. It’s a process that’s taken organizations into the cloud and digital age. Today, companies are leveraging the power of their datacenter and combining the power of the cloud to achieve next-generation business solutions.

While companies undergoing a digital transformation have likely enjoyed increased market share and customer engagement, however, IT teams seem to face similar obstacles every year, the technology and methods they use to meet those challenges are rapidly improving and evolving.

Top 5 technical challenges in 2021

With that said, here are the top five technical challenges in 2021:

Cybersecurity

Since the COVID-19 pandemic has forced companies to move their business to remote operations, there has been a significant increase in the number of data breaches. The breach of the personal accounts of Marriott customers forced us to join the consumers who experienced a compromise of their personal information on March 31, 2020. Not to mention Nintendo, Twitter spear-phishing attack, Easy Jet, Zoom credentials hack, and Antheus Tecnologia data breach. Based on the version data breach investigation report, there were 2,216 data breaches and more than 53,000 cybersecurity incidents reported in 65 countries in 2020.

Cybersecurity emerged as one of the biggest technical challenges of 2020 as a major event with far-reaching and even historic implications defined much of the COVID year. And it looks like we’ll need to keep our seatbelts buckled as we continue to grapple with these issues in 2021.

IT budgets are insufficient to meet goals

It’s not just the “big companies” with large-scale IT budgets who should be investing in new skills on their teams. IT and security should be a top business priority in every industry and a lack of funding is no excuse. While many organizations said budgets are up in 2020, they still may not be enough to meet business objectives. And many budgets are likely still recovering after years of cuts and freezes. This could be why we see “IT budgets are insufficient to meet goals” as the second greatest challenge to IT in 2021.

IT Governance

IT governance is another one that provides a structure for aligning IT strategy with business strategy. By following a formal framework, organizations can produce measurable results in achieving their strategies and goals. In the big picture, IT governance is an integral part of overall enterprise governance.

Today, organizations are subject to many regulations governing the protection of confidential information, financial accountability, data retention, and disaster recovery, among others. They’re also under pressure from shareholders, stakeholders, and customers.

Cloud governance is also another challenge for many organizations who started their digital transformation journey. The cloud has provided unprecedented speed and agility, as well as global scale to organizations across the world. But this also poses a problem because when it comes to your resources and environments you can either have control or you can have speed, one or the other. As an example, Azure’s governance is a cloud solution where you can have both speed and control and provides built-in compliance to make sure your organization is compliant with external laws, regulations, and with internal policies.

Shadow IT

Many employees admit to using shadow IT applications and cloud services at work. Most of the time, their motivations are not malicious or negligent; they’re just trying to do their jobs better. However, shadow IT usage is serious compliance and increase security threat. These applications or cloud services may have security or compliance issues that users are unaware of. In many cases, sensitive corporate data is uploaded to these services, putting the enterprise at risk of a data breach, and since internal IT departments aren’t even aware, they cannot monitor access logs, ensure that regular backups are performed, or apply important software updates.

Dealing with so-called shadow IT is hardly a new challenge but preventing a user from installing a new printer on their computer is one thing—preventing them from using an online cloud service is another.

Don’t have enough IT personnel and the right technical expertise

Again, we see the impact of other challenges, in this case, expertise and skills shortages are IT top challenges. Many organizations said they face an IT talent shortage in one or more areas of IT and the talent shortage gets in the way of IT innovation. According to the research, the greatest business impact of the IT skills gap is delayed IT projects, followed by poor-quality IT projects.

It takes a combination of talent and technology to go through your digital transformation. One without the other will not cut it. It is possible that you may not have the expertise internally at this moment to take on a digital transformation. This may provide you an opportunity to look outside and find business partners or new hires that will help you on your digital transformation journey.

Top 5 predictions in 2021

Here are the top five predictions in 2021:

Cybersecurity

The cyber threat environment is becoming more dangerous every day. A recent survey by the World Economic Forum revealed that cyber-attacks were the number-one concern of executives in Europe and other advanced economies during the pandemic, and we are not done yet.

In 2021, cybersecurity concerns will be a major topic in the boardroom and executive offices of every significant enterprise. Major data breaches suffered by leading firms across industries have struck fear into CEOs and other officers and board members that their company could be next. Many board discussions will revolve around mitigating cyber risks and how they can improve their organization’s security posture.

It’s no wonder then, that the beginning of 2021 was rife with expert predictions of the many cyber threats we’ll see in 2021. Here are the topmost anticipated cyber threats you should look for:

Ransomware Attacks

Ransomware, which is malware that uses encryption to lock down computer files, is a popular hacker weapon because of its relative simplicity.  Although ransomware attacks have proved to cause damage across many organizations, this year’s prediction focuses on cloud-computing businesses. The biggest cloud players in the world (Azure, Amazon, Google) aren’t easy to hack due to their top-notch digital security measures put firmly in place. However, this leaves the smaller companies with fewer resources more vulnerable to those kinds of attacks.

Attack on IoT Devices

Smart devices are proliferating like rabbits, but a lack of common security standards means many devices suffer from serious security vulnerabilities. IoT is a high risk due to the lack of security by design, such as inadequate security settings.

Cloud Security

The biggest problem that Chief Information Officers (CIOs) encounter with cloud computing is reducing the chances of misplacing sensitive data and increasing the development of secure environments.

Cloud computing has transformed the ways in which we live and run our businesses, but it has also given hackers a broader attack surface and created a host of brand-new security threats and vulnerabilities, from cloud malware to misconfigured Azure Virtual Network or Azure Storage. Cloud security must be addressed differently than on-premises security, and solid cloud security starts with secure cloud migration. Looking towards the future, it seems like security concerns will still be the primary concern when it comes to cloud computing.

Public Cloud

Alongside the big cloud computing and storage providers, there will be a rise of vendors providing specific cloud services, enabling businesses to utilize cloud capabilities for specific workloads that would usually require the use of applications built just for those. The type of clouds will be categorized and differentiated by the capabilities of their infrastructure and give rise to a whole new set of cloud classes.

Businesses should prepare themselves to handle these coming trends in cloud computing so that they are ready for the future.

Hybrid Cloud

The cloud has been in the market for quite a while now, so most of the customers are now part of that journey already, they are in the cloud and comfortable on how to use it and how they interact with the platform. However, security considerations and compliance regulations are important drivers for organizations that choose to control their infrastructures using hybrid clouds while using IaaS and PaaS technologies to modernize their applications. There are certain companies that do have applications and had some obstacles moving them into the cloud because of data sovereignty, security, and regulatory compliance. Those applications cannot be moved to the public cloud immediately.

Azure Stack, for example, was designed to address data sovereignty, security, and regulatory compliance. Azure Stack is, in fact, nothing but an extension of public Azure, so you have Azure software running in a piece of hardware deliver it to you as an Integrated System from one of the following certified service partners, it’s connected to your data center, and it’s running in your on-premises environment.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and specifically machine learning and deep learning technology was everywhere in 2020 and don’t expect the explosion of AI to slow down over the next 12 months. But for at least the next year, and probably longer, we expect astonishing breakthroughs as well as continued excitement.

Autonomous vehicles are being fitted with cameras, sensors, and communication systems to enable the vehicle to generate massive amounts of data which, when applied with AI, enables the vehicle to see, hear, think and make decisions just like human drivers do.

At Microsoft for example, researchers in artificial intelligence are harnessing the explosion of digital data and computational power with advanced algorithms to enable collaborative and natural interactions between people and machines that extend the human ability to sense, learn and understand. The research infuses computers, materials, and systems with the ability to reason, communicate and perform with humanlike skill and agility.

Summary

In this article, I provided insights on the top IT technical challenges and the predictions for 2021.

Companies continue to rapidly migrate workloads from datacenters to the cloud, utilizing new technologies such as serverless, containers, and machine learning to benefit from increased efficiency, better scalability, and faster deployments from cloud computing. Cloud security concerns remain high as the adoption of public cloud computing continues to surge, especially in the wake of the 2020 COVID crisis and the resulting accelerated shift to remote work environments.

I hope you’ve found some of what I have shared is useful for your IT planning and strategy for 2021.
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Thank you for reading my blog.

If you have any questions or feedback, please leave a comment.

-Charbel Nemnom-

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