A new phase of prolonged office returns is beginning

Many organizations are postponing their woven plans to “return to the office.” This, in turn, will affect CIOs ’IT spending priorities. With companies in an emergency for two years in 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which still doesn’t seem to end, the emergency is starting to become commonplace, which will show up in IT budgets.

A few months ago, it may have seemed that some companies were determined to send their employees back to their offices for at least a few days a week. However, the Delta version of SARS-CoV-2 and another wave of infections with the virus seem to be prompting many organizations to rethink these plans. In late August, Gartner interviewed 238 human resource managers and found that two-thirds of organizations are delaying reopening offices due to new SARS-CoV-2 versions.

What does this mean for the IT budget if the reopening of offices is delayed? The first major procurements were made by companies in April 2020 so that employees could also perform their tasks from home. However, Gartner Vice President John-David Lovelock said the focus is now shifting to helping these workers be productive even in remote environments.

This means that the big boom in the purchase of laptops and desktops will not rise further. But these devices are subject to standard upgrade cycles, so organizations may be replacing them with new ones that were already issued to employees before the pandemic broke out. Spending on PCs, laptops, tablets and mobile phones will reach $ 84 billion in 2021, according to Lovelock, and will essentially stagnate in 2022, at $ 80 billion. However, this is much higher than expected before the outbreak.

“Not so long ago, we thought that spending in this category in 2022 would kick in at $ 67 billion,” said a Gartner expert. Other areas of spending focus on improving the productivity and security of telework. These will include the tools for unified cooperation, security and videoconferencing. In addition, due to the extra traffic passing through the networks, the efforts to modernize the network of remote users are strengthened, keeping in mind the security.

“When considering spending on work from home, the most important thing is to define the architecture. No one should do this on an ad hoc basis. Think about what users need and how they will take care of it,” says Shamus McGillicuddy, Enterprise Management Associates Vice President of Research. What users need depends, for example, on their role within the organization.

Those working in different roles may use different applications and their network needs may vary depending on how much data is being moved over the network. Some data may be sensitive in nature and may require different levels of security. “You also have to think about operation. How do you get insight into your home office? Of the 10,000 users in two or three locations, 10,000 have become users in 10,000 locations,” McGillicuddy gave a large corporate example. The expert believes that the tools used to monitor and troubleshoot networks should now answer other questions, such as whether a user’s problem is related to their ISP or home Wi-Fi.

According to Lovelock, expenditure should also be expected in the areas of standardized communication, security and videoconferencing. Organizations will also invest in additional areas such as API management and RPA.

When the time finally comes for employees to return to the office, some conflict may arise between the needs of companies and teleworkers. Some said they would quit before returning to an office full-time, Lovelock said. “As much as we hope it’s going to be a nice moment, it won’t be,” Lovelock added.