Most states are starting to relax stay-at-home restrictions. As such, businesses are developing plans for bringing employees back to work. Many businesses are already affected by the pandemic and their future looks grim. Specifically, we are going to look at the IT sector and examine what IT spending might look like in a post-lockdown economy.
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an unprecedented disruption in businesses. As a result, management has tried to reduce costs to survive or risk shutting down. IT departments have suffered the most with major budget cuts due to a reduction in revenue. As a result, non-urgent purchases have been eliminated; initiatives have been suspended; and employees have been terminated.
Of course, technology also has been playing a great role in supporting businesses during the pandemic, especially by enabling work at home and keeping in touch with clients. But there are expectations for major challenges when businesses get back to normal. For instance, the post-coronavirus business world expects travel restrictions, office distancing, business continuity and pandemic regulations. As for onsite work in the office, challenges will include distributed collaboration, endpoint data protection, scalable administration and secure access to corporate data.
It also appears that the impact will vary from industry to industry. Companies that depend on face-to-face contact are in danger of lost income and bankruptcy. At the same time, other businesses are thriving.
Consider digital marketing industries. With more businesses moving online, there will be a rise in the purchase of IT-related expenditures such as software. The entertainment sector has found solace in digital platforms, while there is an increase in the work-at-home trend.
Despite the uncertainties, some predictions can be made.
One thing that is certain is that the impact on IT spending will vary depending on the IT stack. While the infrastructure, branch networking, middleware and enterprise apps might see a drop, areas such as communication/collaboration, cloud storage, security and compliance will likely see an increase in spending as more people work remotely.
While the impact on the IT industry will definitely vary, we could see a lot of new innovations. Such innovations might include customer-facing and worker productivity apps. Some companies may increase spending on new innovations to help outperform their competition.
Another factor affecting IT spending is the size of a business. While big businesses may get back to normal after a few months, small businesses have to tread carefully. As such, IT spending for different-sized businesses will not be similar.
A decision to have employees continue working at home means that IT expenditures will take a different shape. While there will be less need for office equipment, there will be an increase in spending to enable offsite work.
There could also be more spending by businesses investing in continuity strategies such as more remote locations, new training in information and communications technology (ICT) and automation of processes.
This also will depend on business operations. Consider a business that had already migrated to the cloud before the COVID-19 pandemic. Such businesses did not suffer much disruption compared to those still using on-premise applications and proprietary data centers. Thus, IT spending for both types of businesses will vary in the future.
Lastly, businesses will want to invest in projects that are likely to provide a return on investment faster.
The disruption to businesses by the COVID-19 pandemic is like none previously encountered. One thing is certain: Things will not bounce back to the known normal. Rather, we should expect a new normal. And, as we have seen through examination of certain IT expenditures, the success of each industry is dependent on various factors.
Initially everyone will be focused on survival, and not so much on growth. Cost optimization, investing in and prioritizing operations that keep the business running will win the day.