Op-Ed: From risk reduction to unleashing new possibilities

Daniel Fried, GM and SVP, EMEA and Worldwide Channels, Veeam, explains how embracing cloud data management as part of digital transformation can help businesses remediate and mitigate ransomware.

2020 will surely be looked back on as a watershed moment for the role technology plays in our lives as well as business. But even before this year, Digital Transformation (DX) was becoming a critical priority.

In 2019, IDC predicted that direct DX investment would approach $7.4 trillion between 2020 and 2023. In its Worldwide Digital Transformation Spending Guide published in May 2020, IDC noted that despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, spending on DX technologies and service will grow by over 10 percent.

The resilience of this market in light of economic turbulence is a strong proof point for the importance businesses place on the need to digitise. Further to this, the Veeam 2020 Data Protection Trends Report found that almost one-third (30 percent) of organisations globally are in the early stages of implementing or planning DX.

Clearly, DX is not only a significant investment, but a huge undertaking requiring clear objectives, strategy and buy-in from the business. Understanding these challenges and breaking them down into smaller, more solvable problems can provide a welcome sense of perspective.

Managing resources appropriately

Of the so-called barriers to transformation, one of the most relatable is lack of time and lack of budget. According to our research, almost half (47 percent) of IT decision makers in EMEA businesses said lack of IT staff skills or expertise is preventing or has prevented their organisation moving forward with DX. Almost a quarter (24 percent) stated that they do not have enough staff to work on new initiatives: the most impactful data management and protection challenge their business has. Lack of budget to support new initiatives was a close second, with 23 percent of EMEA decision makers citing this as the most impactful challenge.

There are a number of reasons organisations may feel they do not have enough time or people to execute on DX. Firstly, they do not have the available human resources to work beyond the day-to-day tasks which keep the business running. As businesses become more virtual entities with more employees working from home, and the output of a business ‘living’ in the cloud, keeping the lights on becomes an even more time-consuming operation.

Secondly, businesses may not have the right skills onboard to execute a technology strategy aligned to their business objectives. The European Commission’s Digital Single Market report highlights that 40 percent of European businesses have difficulties finding ICT specialists. This year we are due to hit 500,000 unfilled professional ICT vacancies in Europe alone. While upskilling is a must, organisations will not gain value from doing so reactively. The pace of change is such that businesses must take a much longer-term view of where they want to be digitally and understand where best to invest resources at the right time. For instance, hiring a CIO when what you really needed a Sys-Admin or vice-versa can set this journey back.

Furthermore, IT skills within the business must be used economically. With the abundance of software available to automate processes like backup and replication of data, an organisation’s best IT brains can be put to much better use than performing these tasks manually. This time could be spent configuring cloud-based applications that will save employees’ time or reallocating data to more cost-effective storage environments. Doing so means businesses can look at increasing ROI from their technology investments at the same time as ensuring business continuity.

Data protection, security and governance

One of the biggest threats to business continuity is, of course, cybercrime – most notably ransomware. A report produced by Cybersecurity Ventures claims that an organisation will fall victim to a ransomware attack every 11 seconds in 2021.Given that the average ransomware payment being made jumped by around one-third at the start of 2019 to $111,000, it is a key item on every CIO’s agenda. This supports our recent report, which found that almost one-third (31 percent) of EMEA decision makers saw cyber threats as the number one challenge that will impact their business in the next 12 months.

Organisations should not view increased exposure to ransomware as a hindrance or a negative side-effect of DX though. As with any technology rollout, employees require training and upskilling to make the cultural transitions required by company-wide transformation. This includes education on dealing with cyber-threats to ensure cyber-attackers are not being through to a business’s network via phishing links.

Embracing Cloud Data Management as part of DX can, in fact, help businesses remediate and mitigate ransomware. This is where we come full circle and start talking about unlocking the power of data as well as protecting it. The data management industry often sees itself and is seen by others as a risk reduction. As the leader in Backup solutions enabling Cloud Data Management, Veeam helps its customers ensure data is backed up, replicated and recoverable across its entire IT and cloud provision.

What businesses must also focus on is unleashing the potential of its data by taking advantage of the flexibility and performance capabilities of hybrid IT. By managing resource intelligently and understanding where in-demand IT skills are best spent, as well as what tasks can be automated to free up human brainpower, organisations can reap the benefits of DX. Whether that’s enabling a truly remote workforce, driving new revenue through services delivered via the cloud, or consolidating cost.

While DX is considered a panacea rather than something that has a definitive end-point, the positive outcomes organisations can achieve are clear. Cloud Data Management provides the foundation for businesses to unlock and use their data rather than struggle to protect and bury it. This is the first step to building a digital business that is fit-for-purpose in the post-2020 world.

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