2021 Trends: Network Resilience, Security, and Innovation Will Drive Future Growth

December 04, 2020
CCB_CommunityHero_12032020_2021 Trends

The ups and downs of 2020 forced digital transformation upon most businesses, which had to adapt quickly to meet the needs of customers and remote workers alike.

The year 2020 presented many challenges as businesses were suddenly forced to pivot to an environment much more reliant on the internet. Whether it was the need to cater to online customers that once walked through their doors, or employees forced to work from home, network connectivity, security, and reliability were paramount to getting business done.

As we enter the new year, wireless connectivity alone is poised for massive growth across a wide range of platforms and devices. In fact, the global wireless connectivity market is estimated to grow from $69 billion in 2020 to $141.1 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of 15.4%, according to ReportLinker’s October 2020 report, “Wireless Connectivity Market by Connectivity Technology, Type, End-use and Region: Global Forecast to 2025.”

As it turns out, the quick pivot to online commerce activities went well, and formerly long-term digital transformation plans accelerated to become urgent infrastructure and network needs requiring immediate implementation. Here’s how the disruption of 2020 will alter IT and business priorities in the coming year(s).

The Challenges of 2020

The workforce became globally distributed, and it will stay that way

If remote working and learning was an experiment before the pandemic, it became a necessity during 2020 and required organizations to quickly pivot. The best part? It worked well. Not only was the transformation relatively painless, but with the help of the right network partner, businesses found new and permanent ways to connect with their employees, customers and vendors.

Accessibility and security were pressure tested

As businesses and students pivoted to a largely online existence, networks were challenged in ways never before seen. The use of telehealth to see a doctor exploded, online financial transactions and banking became commonplace, and the use of collaboration and online video conferencing rose some 200% as students and teachers suddenly found the internet to be their new classroom.

The quick uptick of online activity and remote work opened organizations to the threats of phishing, malware, and DDoS attacks as the increased use of VPN, Wi-Fi, and broadband opened huge highways to sensitive data of millions.

Resilience won the day

To ensure the success of digital platforms, and the online traffic spikes during peak hours that rose up to 75% higher than normal, network providers were under mandate to ensure accessibility, scalability, and connectivity to ensure network and structure plans held up under pressure.

“I don't believe this is a temporary spike,” says Courtney Munroe, Research Vice President for Worldwide Telecommunications Research, IDC, in a recent webinar. “Companies have realized that they need to engage digitally with their customer base, and this is going to be an ongoing process.”

The Future Has Arrived

Organizations are faced with the reality that things may not go back to the way they used to be. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as customers now embrace and even demand online interactions, and workers may stay largely remote as companies find cost savings in employing a remote workforce.

The workforce has permanently changed

IT departments will be tasked with meeting security and access challenges supporting a hybrid workforce model, and as an added bonus companies will see the cost savings of using technologies to support a network with many locations.

These benefits don’t come without challenges, as employers work to extend office infrastructure to remote locations. Technologies like SD-WAN will be utilized more often to help control application priority and security, and automatically switch to second circuits when necessary to take pressure off overwhelmed networks. In addition, the VPN access and remote desktops utilized for increased use of collaboration tools will require security standardization to help protect networks that don’t have the typical network security afforded by on-premise solutions.

Cloud will be the workhorse of the workforce

As data storage needs increase, and the need for cheaper, mobile solutions proliferate, businesses will continue to take advantage of the benefits of the cloud. Software as a Service (SaaS) applications, touchless technologies, point-of-sale (POS) solutions, and whiteboarding technologies are just some applications that can run cheaper and more efficiently in the cloud.

In addition, robust infrastructure needs will demand the increased use of private cloud technology and edge computing to keep data on premise and closer to the source of compute to decrease latency and increase security.

Munroe says a growth in IoT and AI applications—such as for specialized surgeries in hospitals—will lead to a 20% to 30% growth in API over the next few years, and in some cases, bandwidth needs of more than 10 times current needs will spur quicker 5G implementation.

Security will be paramount

As network use becomes filled with more endpoints, companies will need to partner with a network provider that can help them reassess their business continuity and cybersecurity plans. Internet connectivity needs will be like electrical outlets – demand for seamless connectivity anywhere will speed up implementation of faster, more secure networks, but that will also increase the inherent security risks.

AI and IoT devices will proliferate, requiring faster data routing and less human intervention for network optimization, data analysis, and emergency decisions. Backup circuits, surge capacity, disaster recovery, and dealing with phishing and malware threats as well as DDoS attacks will all be security concerns at the forefront of any IT decisions in the future.

Partner with network providers ready to meet demands

Recovery from economic and cultural disruptions—and adjusting to more long-lasting changes in related social and business practices—will dominate enterprise IT investment decisions and reshape priorities over the next five years and beyond.

Picking the right network provider partner that’s already planning for the future and prepared for the worst-case scenarios is crucial to making sure your organization is ready to face the future’s challenges today.

Learn how the disruption of 2020 will alter IT and business priorities for 2021 and beyond.

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