2020 has delivered challenges few could have foreseen – namely the black swan of COVID-19 and all its attendant issues. Looking into 2021, ERP Maestro’s Jody Paterson offers guidance based on anticipated trends.
More than a few people are likely ready to put 2020 to bed and start afresh in 2021. From a business perspective, we still have work to do in the remaining months to make up for earlier losses before we close the door on the 12-month period at hand. However, it’s not too soon to get ready for the year ahead by taking a look at anticipated trends.
1. Preparedness and Risk Management
In 2020, businesses encountered more uncertainty and rapid shifts in everything – from where employees worked to how they marketed and sold goods and services to adjusting budgets and revenue expectations – like at no other time in recent history. It was a shock to everyone, including leaders at the top, those down through the ranks and especially those who lost jobs as a result.
The events of this year were completely unexpected and unplanned. Worldwide, no one considered a scenario in which the majority of the global workforce would work remotely or how they would keep business systems secure in such a situation.
Business leaders should not only be thinking about how to complete this year safely with any continued remote work, but also be seriously reviewing their risk management solutions and contingency strategies to be ready if another crisis like COVID-19 forces employees home once again. This will become a top concern for 2021 planning and here on out.
2. Cloud Technology
We already know that cloud technology will continue to play a big part in the future of work, just as it has been doing consistently over many years now, and it will have a larger role than most anticipated in 2021 due primarily to the rise in remote work and also the need for better agility and less cost associated with on-premise solutions.
As companies seek to provide both tools for anytime-anywhere work while also decreasing costs, cloud deployments will rise. A decrease in traditional on-site work will also cause a decrease in on-premise software for ease of access, zero maintenance and cost-cutting. Companies that have not yet undergone advanced digital transformation and moved the bulk of business systems to cloud applications should be doing that now – especially when vendors may also be willing to offer greater savings coming out of COVID-19.
3. More Internal Security Spend
At the end of 2020’s second quarter, Gartner was already predicting a 33.3 percent increase in spending on cloud security this year over 2019. While other technology spending will still increase over the previous year, it will do so to a lesser degree than was previously predicted. The increased demand for cloud technology in general will also translate into the security technology industry.
It only makes sense that internal security spending will be included in the cloud security spend forecast. With more employees working from home – with less supervision now and potentially into the future and with conditions ripe for more cases of employee fraud and data breaches – the need is growing to protect systems from insider threats. Many of the conditions that caused an increase in fraud during the 2008 recession are prevalent today. Employee layoffs, financial insecurity, less direct supervision and furloughed IT and security teams can make fraud much more likely.
Historically, external security has been a higher priority for companies because of the lack of knowledge when it comes to the devastating impact of internal threats. That is finally changing, and businesses should be preparing for even more investments in tools to prevent insider incidents in 2021.
4. A Closer Eye on Audit
Investor scrutiny is apt to increase and, as a result, so will audit and compliance activities to ensure investors that controls to protect against insider threats are effective and that financial statements are accurate. This closer examination of risks and controls stems from the surge of remote workers, the conditions for potential growth in fraud cases and unsteady revenue growth. Stakeholders will want added assurance that financial statements have not been altered or numbers manipulated. They will also want better risk management data and the peace of mind that assets are protected from external and internal threats equally.
Organizations will want to make sure they have robust segregation of duties, risk analysis and reporting tools to provide rapid insights to catch and remediate risks. To accommodate remote work and reduced budgets, cloud solutions for this work will be more in demand.
Although there are a few months left in 2020, we have learned enough from this year about what to expect and how to plan and be better prepared going into 2021.