In 2021, the IT sector grew by 3%*, which isn’t really a surprise given that many companies joined the race towards digital transformation, driven by trends in e-commerce and IT services as well as telecommuting and distance learning. Apart from hybrid work, what trends did we see at our customers’ in 2021? And how will these develop in 2022? Read our blog to discover the five trends that stood out.
At Bechtle, we are offering an ever-growing number of holistic solutions—not only in the Netherlands, but across the Bechtle Group. This trend is nothing new, but is one that shifted significantly into the spotlight in 2021, particularly in the public sector. Gijs van der Putten, Partnerships & Communities Manager and part of the Bechtle IT Solutions Team explains, “public sector customers are turning to us when they need a holistic solution that focuses on end user support. When a large organisation orders smartphones from us, we deliver them to the employees at home and they can then use a helpline, for example, to get themselves up and running.”
It’s no surprise that there has been an increase in demand for these all-in solutions. No less than 51% of IT managers admit that their workload is (too) high. 81% say that they don’t have enough time to innovate. Over 60% say that they spend too much time on device management. “Trying to relieve the pressure on IT departments is something that will continue in the next few years. End user support and experience are also becoming more important for organisations,” says Gijs.
IT products and services that can be procured “as a Service” will see their popularity increase in 2022. Something that we can also see in our personal lives. Think of your car leasing or Spotify subscription. “IT quality has to go up and prices down. A logical consequence is, therefore, that there will be a shift towards subscription models, also in IT.”
This trend goes hand in hand with that of hybrid working. Before the pandemic,we were helping customers set up fixed workplaces, but in 2021, it was all about being mobile and we don’t expect that to change in 2022.
Studies conducted by Microsoft show that 67% of Dutch employees want to continue working from home after the pandemic while only 13% of companies listed on the stock exchange expect that their staff will want to return to the office five days a week. These figures are illustrative of what we witnessed on the market last year. Iris Cauwels, Head of Solutions at Bechtle, says, “In the IT sector, we’ve been saying for many years that hybrid working is the model of the future, but that didn’t really come to pass until 2020/21. Now, however, the drive towards digitalisation has really started.”
Almost every organisation now realised that telecommuting actually is possible. “I think it was obvious that people would be reluctant to return to the office. Now, however, we can see that traffic jams are back and more employees are in the office. I don’t think that’s got anything to do with the employers, rather much more with the fact that people have had enough of COVID-19 and are social creatures.” We’ll find out in the future how people split their time between home and the office, but right now, it’s too early to draw any conclusions.
In 2021, hybrid working caused quite a few problems on the IT market. The huge demand combined with expensive raw materials meant that not all products were available. “Our customers’ mindset has changed and this has become very noticeable. They now want a headset that best suits their preferences becoming more flexible when it comes to brand and model,” says Iris.
We would have preferred it not to be the case, but in 2021, there was a story every week about organisations falling victim to cyberattacks, in particular ransomware. There aren’t any exact figures on how much damage is caused every year by these kind of attacks, but in the Netherlands alone, we’re talking millions of euros. At the beginning of this year, Cyber Security Raad (CSR) warned that digital security in the Netherlands is under increasing pressure.
There are already some figures out there on the number of global ransomware attacks. By mid-2021, there had already been more than in an entire year before.** In the first six months of 2021, 304.7 million attacks had taken place. In comparison, there had been 304.6 million in the whole of 2020. Even if no more attacks had been recorded after June, 2021 would have still been the worst year ever.
There are several factors at play here. As the number of companies that pay after an attack increases, the greater the incentive for cybercriminals to carry out more ransomware attacks. Criminals’ demands also then increase. Another factor is that cybercriminals are getting much better at what they do and at leveraging the various technologies. There’s also the fact that the probability is high that an organisation, which was already the victim of an attack and paid a ransom, will be attacked again as criminals know they are vulnerable.
Iris says, “Organisations still believe that these things will never happen to them. Customers always put their faith in manufacturers’ security solutions, as we found out out our digital customer event, Bechtle NEXT Digital, this year. A survey carried out during the event showed that most Bechtle customers thought they had everything under control in terms of IT security. However, that confidence was misplaced.” Organisations tend to have a range of good security solutions, but these don’t often work together, aren’t well maintained and the employees have to figure out for themselves how to better handle risks.
At Bechtle, we use our Security Ladder to advise our customers. The higher your organisation is on the ladder, the more secure it is. But even then, there’s still plenty of time and money to be invested. 2022 is the year organisations need to implement a 360° security strategy. Security has to be seen as a big picture with multiple solutions. A nice goal for 2022?
In Bechtle direct’s first magazine of 2021, Gijs mentioned that he had noticed that many organisations had put their connectivity projects on hold because remote working had taken priority. The result was that many campus projects were put on ice. “Many universities and offices still have outdated networks that were never designed for hybrid working or IoT. As an organisation, you design your network around office-based employees, but today we are seeing that offices are becoming a place for people to meet, either digitally or face-to-face,” says Gijs. “During every meeting, someone will suddenly dial in. This creates pressure on the network that shouldn’t be underestimated and in which organisations should invest as quickly as possible.
Hybrid working cost organisations a lot of money in 2021. Large IT investments were put on hold because of all the uncertainty. Now, however, we at Bechtle are noticing that things are changing. As expected, these projects will be restarted by many organisations in 2022.
Alongside good network connections that can handle all the video calling, it is also advisable to adapt the meeting rooms.
The final big trend of 2021 was the big increase in requests to make calls using Microsoft Teams. We don’t just mean (video) calls, but completely replacing organisation’s switchboards with the program. One question that many organisations asked themselves was if it was possible to use Microsoft Teams as a Unified Communications tool that included telephony.
“The answer is yes, but there is a lot involved. This is especially the case when it comes to functionalities that aren’t standard in Teams such as using it as a switchboard. This is why were looking to collaborate with a new partner in 2021,” explains Gijs. “Thanks to this collaboration, we can now offer our full support to organisations when it comes to (video) telephony. Something that takes us full circle back to Trend #1—relief.
* Calculation ING Economisch Bureau (now: ING Research) based on CBS Statistics Netherlands (2021)
** SonicWall Cyber Threat Report