Addressing COVID-19-related challenges is the main business goal for organisations in 2021, followed by improving customer experience (CX) and operational efficiencies, according to a new study from Frost - Sullivan.
The study, Communications and Collaboration Investment Priorities, found the ubiquitous rise in remote work and the shift to virtual customer engagement due to elevated employee and customer safety concerns during the pandemic have also spurred digital transformations across industries and geographies.
Cloud applications (29%) will be the main focus for post-pandemic investments, but in the next two years, cybersecurity (50%) will represent a key technology focal area.
More businesses have moved enterprise telephony (39%) and video conferencing (54%) workloads to the cloud, in line with explosive growth in cloud communications and collaboration services during the pandemic.
The call for business continuity has highlighted the need for robust collaboration-driven tools such as video conferencing, team spaces, and broader unified communications-as-a-service (UCaaS) suites.
"COVID-19 has expedited technology investments for multiple businesses. Adapting to new work modes and increasing digital customer engagement represent key digital transformation objectives driven by the pandemic," says Elka Popova, information - communication technology principal analyst at Frost - Sullivan.
"An anticipated increase of IT/telecom budgets in 2021 by 27% on average indicates that vendors and service providers must be prepared to meet specific customer requirements to capitalise on the opportunity and business use cases.
"Technology developers and service providers must deliver solutions that align with current business priorities and create possibilities to address future technology requirements," Popova says.
"This could involve offering flexible pricing options, which are particularly important during COVID-19 and the economic downturn, or creative bundles with value-added services, such as security or connectivity, that can enable differentiation in the long term as well."
Key study findings include:
- 43% of organisations felt that managing COVID-19 challenges far outranks other business goals in 2021, followed by improving the customer experience (32%) and delivering operational efficiencies (28%).
- COVID-19 accelerated technology investments for more (46%) businesses than it slowed down (28%).
- Cloud applications (29%) will be the main focus for post-pandemic investments, but in the next two years, cybersecurity (50%) will represent a key technology focal area.
- More businesses have moved enterprise telephony (39%) and video conferencing (54%) workloads to the cloud, in line with explosive growth in cloud communications and collaboration services during the pandemic.
- Investments in advanced collaboration tools such as team messaging, video conferencing, webinars and UC soft clients will have been made by a vast majority (80% or more) of businesses by 2022.
- Benefits include improved customer experience, information management, team collaboration and remote work (all at 27%). Companies are largely making investments in AI because of its ability to improve the quality of products (33%) and gain a competitive edge (28%).
- In the selection and implementation of mobile applications for workers, businesses favour software vendors (34%) to carriers (24%), systems integrators (22%) and mobile device manufacturers (17%).
- Over half of respondents felt security (60%) and reliability (59%) were most important when evaluating a communications and collaboration solution provider. For more than one-half of respondents, provider customer care is also essential.