In 2020, the impossible happened over and over. Organisations overcame seemingly insurmountable challenges by employing technical agility and deep customer understanding and breaking down the boundaries. That spirit will define 2021: Top organisations will invest in adaptability, customer-obsession, and technology-fuelled experiences. With all the uncertainty that the pandemic wrought, how is it that some companies have thrived? Forrester thinks they have the answer. Like previous cathartic events over the past 20 years — the dot-com boom/bust and the financial crisis/recovery — the winning organisations have exhibited certain traits that have enabled them to widen the gulf between their success and those that have struggled.
So, what is the secret? First, these companies exhibit an underlying ability to continually adapt to changing conditions and reconfigure their companies to capture new opportunities, even in the most unforeseen of circumstances. Second, these companies are resilient. Planning can never prepare you for every problem, but it can build the muscle that helps you to react successfully to challenges. And last, they are creative. They combine humans and machines to unlock new opportunities before others see them. Forrester calls the combination of adaptive, resilient, and creative a future-fit technology strategy. And, they believe that this is how companies will deliver on customer obsession now and win in the future.
Whereas Public Sector does not work in a commercial model, they do have similarities in terms of delivering a successful service. As terrible as the pandemic has been in terms of loss of human life, the public sector has displayed incredible agility and resilience, breaking down barriers and working as one with the wider community for the benefit of their citizens.
Forrester believes that the organisations that will deliver the most success in 2021 will be the ones that can continue this same drive, citizen focus and joint working ethos across agencies once the risk of the pandemic has been reduced or controlled.
Prediction 1: Forrester predicts that organisations will need to adopt what it calls a "public-cloud-native-first" strategy
The pandemic signalled and as it was necessary for the services, tools, and apps that enabled companies to send their workers out of the office to work from home; it also maintained global supply chains or shifted entire industry business models in just a matter of weeks. Cloud Native tech the report found, will continue to power digital-transformation strategies from those organisations that want the best tools that are fit for the future.
Our thoughts on Forrester public cloud-native first prediction and its impact on the Public Sector
We agree with Forrester that ‘public-cloud-native-first’ is the strongest technical strategy for the Public Sector to follow. Since its launch in 2013, the UK Government’s Cloud First policy has been a flagship technology initiative and an important point in the Technology Code of Practice. The policy says that organisations should evaluate cloud solutions first before considering any other option. Organisations are ultimately free to use other options but need to demonstrate that alternatives offer better levels of security, flexibility and/or value for money than cloud solutions.
The policy was re-examined in 2019 by government officials and then confirmed that it would be upheld in October 2019, showing that cloud reigns as the endorsed methodology to modernising UK public sector ICT infrastructure.
With the advent of unique challenges like COVID-19, the public sector needs digital solutions to meet their fast-changing requirements. While the immediate focus is to limit the human, social and economic loss, operating in the new normal also indicates extra pressure on government IT in years to come.
The Government Tech blog stated in October 2019 that Cloud-First is here to stay and recently provided more guidance on developing your Cloud First strategy. If you are a public sector body working on your cloud strategy, then the full Government guidance can be found on the Government’s technology blog here. As well as a growth in organisations investing in cloud-native applications, the report predicted that applications will increasingly be run on a public cloud.
Prediction 2: Public Cloud usage will grow 35% in 2021
The use of Cloud First and preferred use of Public Cloud has long been Government policy, but Local Authorities have been slow to follow this advice as procuring cloud solutions on the public cloud was not something that they were used to do. Public Cloud will continue to dominate next year as a far superior solution. The Forrester report predicts that the four major public cloud providers are all expected to grow more in 2021. The Forrester report predicts that at the end of 2021, 60% of organisations will leverage containers on public cloud platforms.
Our thoughts on Forrester public cloud growth prediction and its impact on the Public Sector
We agree 2021 will be the year that organisations understand the difference between hosting and the public cloud and understand the many benefits of Public Cloud to their organisation.
The benefits of Public Cloud
- Private clouds tend to use older technology than public clouds: You may have spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on new hardware, but what about investment over time and the need to constantly update?
- Public clouds shift capital expenses to operational expenses: Its pay as you go, versus building an entire data centre, no matter how virtualised it may be.
- Public clouds have better utilization rates: With a private cloud, your organization still has to build and maintain all kinds of servers to meet spikes in demand across various divisions or functions. Public cloud offers the same spare demand on a pay-as-you-need-it basis.
- Public clouds offer greater elasticity: "You'll never consume all the capacity of a public cloud, but your private cloud is another matter entirely."
- Public clouds have greater economies of scale: No private cloud can compete with the likes of Microsoft, Google and Amazon on price. And the public providers are constantly buying boatloads of the latest security technology.
- Public clouds are hardened through continual hacking attempts: Thousands of hackers have been pounding Google, Microsoft and Amazon for years now. Public cloud providers are ready for anything at this point.
- Public clouds attract the best security people available: They seek out the top security experts, will pay them top salaries, and treat them as the most important part of their businesses, which they are. Do traditional enterprises treat security teams this way?
- Private cloud staff competence is an unknown: Your organisation may have a lot of talented and knowledgeable people, but is data security the main line of your business?
- Private cloud penetration testing is insufficient: Even if you test your applications and networks regularly (which many organizations don't), these only tell you if things are secure at that exact moment. Private cloud vendors check every moment of every day.
Prediction 3: On-premises DR (disaster recovery) sites will fade in 2021
Fading in 2021 will be on-premises DR (disaster recovery) sites, and recovery will be given to the cloud. Before 2020, few organisations made the switch from DR operations to the public cloud. But organisations under the challenge of the new remote workforce are now taking a hard look to find out if the public cloud is a preferred DR target. For 2021, Forrester subsequently estimated an additional 20% of firms will make the change from DR operations to a public cloud for a varied part of business apps.
Our thoughts on Forrester On-premises DR (disaster recovery) sites will fade in 2021
We agree that on-premise DR disaster recovery sites will fade in 2021. The technical set up is sub-optimal. If the organisation is using public cloud than they should not be required.
Prediction 4: One out of every four workers will be supported by new forms of automation to reduce administration
This is not the rise of the machines, but Forrester predicts this is another growth area. As a result of the pandemic, new forms of automation will support one in four remote workers either directly or indirectly by 2022. Direct support in the form of giving a bot to individual workers to support their daily journey will be rare. But indirect support will blossom, with intelligent automation handling employee’s work, questions, and supporting documents, customer service, and line-of-business tasks that are often invisible to the home worker.
Our thoughts on Forrester’s automation predictions
While the public sector should not be at the leading edge of AI (as we believe there is still too much hype over substance), they should look at how AI can support their professionals in their work. AI at work in a non-intrusive manner will provide them with significant efficiency gains needed in an industry that is typically understaffed and overworked.
We believe understanding technology and organisational trends is key for the Public Sector. We look at these expert reports and research what is happening in other industries to make our investment decisions to support our customers. 2021 will be a year of technology, and a year of opportunity with barriers broken down by the pandemic. This, we believe creates an opportunity to embed new ways of working rather than rebound back to previous models that many highlights need reform. Those public sector organisations who will be successful will seize the opportunity, accessing better technology that is cheaper to run, more agile and more secure as the prize
Whilst we are a dedicated provider of public sector technology across Education, Health and Social Care, we realise that there are some things that technology cannot do and perhaps should never do. These public sector services need emotion and connection. In choosing a way forward, Public Sector bodies should focus on using technology that empowers the professional rather than looks to replace them. Providing professionals with an easy to use toolkit that assists them in bringing together all the information they need so they can make the best possible decisions. We believe AI will help in many industries but in some sectors not as overtly as perhaps people imagine today. Unfortunately, not everything can be solved with an algorithm (and algorithms can be wrong), but high-performance technology tools that support professionals do the best job will absolutely be a trend in 2021.
We look forward to 2021 as a time of opportunity and a better time for all.
The full Forrester Predictions 2021 report can be accessed here