General Security

Key findings from the 2020 Netwrix IT Trends report

October 29, 2020 by Dan Virgillito

Introduction

In today’s rapidly changing technological landscape, failing to keep up with trends can make your company lag behind. 2020’s IT trends have been influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting work-from-home policies. Due to these shifts, organizations had to change their priorities and are now placing greater value on educating their IT staff.

To highlight the new priorities and compare them with previous IT trends, Netwrix — an information security and governance software vendor — conducted a survey polling 937 IT professionals across the globe about how the pandemic made them shift their IT preferences. The cybersecurity company has shared the results in a report titled “2020 Netwrix IT Trends Report: Reshaped Reality”. Below are some key findings from the report.

1. More emphasis on IT personnel education

Because of hiring freezes, 31 percent of organizations plan on educating their existing IT pros as an effective way to address the skills gap. Pre-pandemic, only 19 percent of companies considered it as a priority. Even smaller organizations are showing greater interest in having an educated IT workforce, a goal that wasn’t even on their top ten IT priorities list last year. 

Larger enterprises with 5,000 – 10,000 employees are the biggest advocates of employee education. Personnel in these organizations are seen as a weak link, so companies of this scale focus more on educating staff members about secure behavior than firms of other sizes. This can be seen from the fact that their interest in IT staff education has doubled from 33 percent to 67 percent. 

Industry-wise, the healthcare and retail-and-wholesale sectors have had the biggest priority shift towards IT personnel education. Figures rose from 17 percent pre-pandemic to 41 percent for healthcare and 4 percent pre-pandemic to 36 percent for retail-and-wholesale.

Educating IT personnel is also now a big priority across countries. In France, for instance, the task was listed as one of the top three priorities. Six months ago, it didn’t manage to enter the top 10 rankings. All of this indicates how crucial IT employee education has become in the wake of the pandemic. 

2. Focus on digital transformation by public institutions

Netwrix also found that 56 percent of the organizations in the public sector plan to undergo digital transformation. This is a 30 percent increase from the pre-pandemic interest in the task. Some public agencies are putting cloud migration and automation of manual IT on the back burner to focus on digital transformation initiatives. Besides public institutions, manufacturing firms are also starting digital transformation projects, which was not a top-10 priority six months ago.

All that said, companies focusing on digital transformation would likely face challenges when undertaking relevant initiatives. That’s because CIOs/IT directors are showing less interest in the task than they were before the pandemic. Their interest dropped from 43 percent from the pre-COVID-19 days to 29 percent. IT/system administrators, too, are neglecting digital transformation over other IT priorities. 

To address these challenges, organizations require leadership able to get IT buy-in and ready to embrace the risk-taking required to adopt a culture of transformation. Additionally, companies need to include their personnel in the transformation agenda if they want to succeed in balancing the transformation with empowering their workforce to develop an innovation mindset.  

3. Deployment of AI projects in large enterprises 

The 2020 IT trends report by Netwrix further revealed that organizations with more than 50,001 personnel are ready to embrace AI. These firms demonstrated a 33 percent higher interest in artificial intelligence projects compared to last year, when it was not even in their list of top ten priorities.

O’Reilly’s published research paper, “AI Adoption in the Enterprise 2020,” further reveals that enterprise’s excitement for AI is on the rise. Organizations are leveraging deep learning techniques to run AI pilots in order to evaluate the viability of the technology. In terms of expertise, 55 percent of enterprises gave TensorFlow the highest priority, making it the most popular development solution across all enterprises. 

Early adopters of AI can expect higher competitiveness, better customer experience and accelerated growth rates with the deployment of solutions. 

4. Prioritizing network security

No matter how large or small an organization, it’s critical to have solid network security. With hackers attacking vulnerable networks at every opportunity (there is a hacker attack every 39 seconds, according to a Clark School study at The University of Maryland), protecting this endpoint with advanced safeguards and security practices is a must for ensuring high-level data protection. 

According to Netwrix’s report, 76 percent of organizations see network security as their biggest priority for the rest of 2020. Companies operating in the finance and retail-and-wholesale industries consider it to be the most important, as their networks are frequently attacked in a bid to steal funds, customer details and so on.

Additionally, network security occupied the number one spot in the list of top 10 IT priorities region-wise. In EMEA, it remains a core task along with data security and cybersecurity awareness within the workplace. In terms of countries, Germany sees network security as the most burning need, followed by the United States, France and the UK.

To help improve network and data security, Netwrix also announced an update for Netwrix Auditor, an IT audit software that helps companies assess and mitigate security risks. Netwrix Auditor’s new version helps organizations focus on high-risk vSphere cases, detect Nutanix AHV threats faster and control access to their VMware and SQL server environments. Businesses can use these and other capabilities of the software to close security gaps across their systems and networks before they can be exploited.

Conclusion

Staying up to date with IT trends is critical for every organization across all industries. The findings from the 2020 Netwrix report indicates the importance of investing in IT employee education and prioritizing network security. By offering advanced learning solutions and cyber training to IT personnel, you can increase your company’s resistance against cyber threats. And if you’re a public organization, you may want to consider leveraging solutions like Netwrix Auditor to strengthen your network and data security.

 

Sources

2020 Netwrix IT Trends Report: Reshaped Reality, Netwrix

AI adoption in the enterprise 2020, O’Reilly

#Privacy: Upcoming trends in IT, data privacy and cybersecurity, gdpr.report

Posted: October 29, 2020
Articles Author
Dan Virgillito
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Dan Virgillito is a blogger and content strategist with experience in cyber security, social media and tech news. Visit his website or say hi on Twitter.