Changing work patterns in the UK, brought about by the impact of Covid-19, are sparking a surge in digital infrastructure investment. The pandemic has led to sweeping changes across every industry with organizations having to fast-track their digital transformation to adapt to the ‘new normal’.

Amid this rapidly changing landscape, it is critical that global businesses understand the IT trends shaping the world around them. Equinix’s annual global study on the views of IT decision-makers looks at the technology trends affecting businesses in the UK and globally, shedding light on the impact of Covid-19 pandemic and how this has shaped their digital transformation.

The future of business

The pandemic has accelerated a shift to remote working with lockdowns, both in the UK and further afield, challenging traditional notions of workplace collaboration. Equinix’s 2020-2021 Global Tech Trends Survey reveals that almost 7 out of 10 (69 percent) of the UK’s digital leaders expect long-term changes to where and how people work within their organizations.

As a result, investment is being ploughed into updating IT infrastructure to meet the new demands posed by remote and hybrid working, with 44 percent of businesses increasing their tech budgets to hasten their digital transformation. And despite fears that the pandemic and Brexit have severely disrupted the UK economy, half of companies (50 percent) intend to expand into new regions and countries. Of those 50 percent, more than two-thirds (68 percent) plan to achieve this goal virtually, rather than by investing in physical IT infrastructure.

This expected growth is set to place even greater demands on enterprises to extend their digital infrastructure from centralized locations to distributed edge locations, which provide the real time connectivity required for businesses to compete on a global scale.

Asked about their biggest priorities for their organization’s digital strategy, 86 percent of UK respondents reported that digitizing their IT infrastructure was a top priority, while 61 percent saw interconnection – the private exchange of data between businesses away from the public Internet – as a key facilitator of digital transformation. This figure is twice as high as last year. Drilling down by sector, it is believed that the UK’s financial services industry will benefit the most from interconnection (48 percent), followed by professional services (32 percent), healthcare (27 percent) and retail (27 percent).

In fact, the importance of interconnection cannot be understated. Seven out of ten (70 percent) IT leaders believe the technology is central to navigating the challenges ahead as the economy rebuilds.

Interconnecting at the Edge

These findings on growth and investment in the UK should lessen concerns that Covid-19 and Brexit may have put companies’ expansion plans on the backburner. Digital leaders are responding to the challenges by adopting more agile and flexible solutions that will help them thrive in the new world of work.

It is clear from the survey that interconnection is key to this transformation as it will have a lasting impact on the speed, agility and scalability to support remote work and remote customer access. Businesses reaffirm that it is fundamental to increased nimbleness and the ability to manage the uncharted waters ahead. Another key component is the move to cloud-based infrastructure. The cloud has the power to deliver connectivity and flexibility, improve network optimization and facilitate real-time connections to global digital ecosystems.

Of the IT decision-makers surveyed, 3 in 4 said they intend moving more of their infrastructure to the cloud, with 76 percent saying they intend doing so in the next 12 months. Transforming legacy IT infrastructures in this way means businesses can leverage new and innovative technologies to generate increased flexibility and scalability.

On a global scale, the survey paints a similar picture to the UK. Investment in IT infrastructure is seen to protect businesses against the lasting effects of the pandemic. A slightly higher percentage of global respondents (57 percent) than their UK counterparts (50 percent) plan to expand their operations despite the negative impacts of Covid-19.

Furthermore, six out of ten global respondents have revised their IT strategy because of the pandemic, with eight out of ten confirming that digitizing their IT infrastructure was a top priority in the year ahead. In agreement with their UK colleagues, globally two-thirds of IT decision-makers (64 percent) believe that there will be lasting changes to where and how people work within their organizations.

Sustainable growth

Sustainability continues to be a core issue, despite economic pressures, with businesses around the world prioritizing sustainability within their growth strategies. The UK is also keeping this critical environmental factor in its sights with almost two-thirds (64 percent) of organizations revealing they have a long-term sustainability plan in place, while well over half (56 percent) consider their carbon impact as central to their IT infrastructure planning.

The survey illustrates a brighter future beyond the Covid-19 pandemic, with the insights revealing a cautious optimism amongst UK IT decision-makers and their global counterparts. As such, enterprises are pouring time, effort and investment into their IT strategies in line with a global consensus that interconnection will play a leading role in the united recovery of businesses globally.

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