Ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesus once said, “The only thing that is constant is change.” That is certainly an apt description of 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic ushered in sweeping changes across every industry and community. Organizations around the world had to fast-track their digital transformation to adapt to what has become known as the “new normal.” And while digital technologies enabled us to quickly adjust to new ways of working, learning, connecting with family and friends and more, the pace of change shows no signs of slowing down. In the midst of this rapidly changing landscape, it’s never been more important for organizations to understand the trends shaping the world around them.
To better understand the technology trends affecting businesses, Equinix captured insights from 2,600 IT decision-makers from diverse enterprises across 26 countries in the Americas, Asia-Pacific and EMEA regions. Now in its third edition, our annual Global Tech Trends Survey (GTTS) explores the impact of COVID-19 on digital infrastructure plans, cloud infrastructure and deployments, how 5G and sustainability are changing the IT infrastructure landscape, key digital priorities and threats, as well as interconnection use and benefits.
Global Tech Trends Survey reveals IT strategies shifting to improve agility
Impacting expansion plans: While more than half (57%) of companies still plan to expand despite the disruption brought by the pandemic, nearly two-thirds (63%) of them plan to achieve this virtually rather than investing in physical IT infrastructure.
Accelerating digital transformation: Six in 10 said they have revised their IT strategy as a result of COVID-19. Eight in 10 said digitizing their IT infrastructure was a top priority, and nearly half (47%) reported they accelerated digital transformation plans.
Investing in agility and flexibility: Nearly 6 in 10 (58%) of respondents are planning to invest in technology to make their businesses more agile post-pandemic. A key component of this increased agility is moving to the cloud – 68% plan to move more functions to the cloud.
Re-architecting for hybrid working: 51% of businesses have rearchitected their IT infrastructure to meet new remote and hybrid working demands, and nearly two-thirds (64%) believe there will be long-term changes to where and how people work within their organizations.
Utilizing interconnection for success: 58% of IT leaders see interconnection as a key facilitator of digital transformation – up 9% from last year’s results. The top benefits cited were the increase in connectivity flexibility, followed by improving network optimization. Facilitating digital transformation (31%) and connecting to digital ecosystems (21%) both grew significantly from last year’s results.
Figuring out 5G: Half of the respondents agreed the biggest impact of 5G is the ability it gives businesses to take advantage of new technologies, but 36% are also worried about the need to re-architect infrastructure to take advantage of 5G capabilities.
Searching for sustainability: The majority (54%) said sustainability is a major focus for their organization, and most (57%) have a long-term sustainability plan in place for their IT infrastructure. At the same time, only half said the greenness of their supply chain influences purchasing decisions, but this has increased by eight percentage points since last year.
5G and cybersecurity are top of mind in the Asia-Pacific
Over the last year, leading companies in Asia-Pacific (AP) were able to see the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity, with both mature and emerging markets looking to take advantage of it. A few trends in AP helped power this perspective. Asian users in many regions are younger, driving digital adoption. And while Asian businesses typically take a long-term view on investment, a boom in e-commerce (accelerated by the pandemic) is fueling a surge in online banking and digital payments. Regulators are actively fostering this growth with license allocations and new banking standards. New entrants into the banking space, such as Tencent/Alibaba in China and Kakao in Korea are starting to dominate. Other key focus areas for AP businesses include 5G, cybersecurity, AI, ML and big data analytics.
This aligns with the findings from the GTTS for the AP region, which gathered insights from 600 IT decision-makers across six countries including Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and South Korea. Top priorities for IT leaders in AP include digitalizing IT infrastructure (76%) and improving cybersecurity (75%), followed by cutting costs and increasing efficiency (71%), complying with data regulations (70%) and improving network optimization (68%).
Comparable to the global results (57%), most AP businesses (60%) plan to expand, although the reliance on virtual vs. physical connections is slightly lower – only 57% of AP businesses planning to expand will do so virtually vs. 63% globally. COVID-19 is also accelerating digitization in the region, with 46% fast-tracking their digital transformation and 44% increasing their IT budget.
Significantly, two-thirds (66%) of IT decision-makers in AP say they plan to move more functions to the cloud, and 69% of those expect this to take place over the next 12 months. The move to hybrid and multi-cloud deployments also goes hand-in-hand with increasing corporate concerns over cybersecurity and the need to extend cyber resilience across the supply chain, as well as the desire to cut costs and increase efficiency.
While slightly more conservative than the Americas, IT decision-makers in AP value interconnection – 61% agree it will help enterprises move forward in a post-pandemic world. They also see interconnection as a key facilitator for digital transformation (61%) and competitive advantage (56%) – compared with 57% and 54% globally. And the sectors believed to most likely benefit from interconnection in AP include financial services, healthcare and professional services.
As we look to a brighter future beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, we hope these insights provide useful guidance for your own digital transformation strategy.
To learn more, read the Equinix Global Tech Trends Survey.
- LinkedIn, Randy Bean, Accelerating Digital And Data Transformation In A Remote-Work World, July 2020.
- McKinsey, Emerging stronger, fitter, faster: The rise of the Asian corporation, Dec 2020.
- McKinsey, Joining the next generation of digital banks in Asia, Jan 2021.