2020 Softcat
Business Tech
Priorities Report

A snapshot of the enterprise IT landscape in UK and Ireland, provided by Softcat

Enterprise IT and the new normal

2020, what a year it’s been. There’s been ups and downs, mistakes and solutions, hard challenges and new opportunities. And it isn’t over yet.

Through it all, IT has been pivotal. The 2020 Softcat Business Tech Priorities Report gives a timely snapshot of the enterprise IT landscape in the UK and Ireland based on the views of 1,500 of our customers. In the latest edition, customers were asked what business technologies they’re prioritising for the year ahead and what have been the biggest IT challenges they’ve faced during the pandemic.

It reveals which technology solutions and services are mission critical today, helping organisations navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, and which are being prioritised for recovery and future prosperity.

“This year has been hugely challenging for every business. Despite each unprecedented twist and turn, organisations have shown astonishing agility, creativity and intelligence in the face of the disruption and pressure. During this time, all of us at Softcat have worked hard to support our customers to not only survive this period but to thrive. It is clear from our latest Business Tech Priorities Report, the importance of enterprise IT has truly been solidified, accelerating demand and giving rise to innovative use cases. The future of enterprise IT is looking brighter”

At a glance

1500+ respondents,
21 industries

Cyber Security is ranked as organisations’ top tech priority for the year ahead for the fourth year in a row (2017-20)

End User Computing is ranked as the top tech priority for education and real estate industries, and 2nd overall

Cloud capabilities are ranked as the 3rd most important area for technology investment across all industries

95% of industries said remote working was the biggest tech challenge of the pandemic

Emerging technologies including IoT and AI remain low priority across the board for the fourth year running

Communication and collaboration tools are more important to organisations than ever before ranking in 5th place – up two places from last year

The findings

Explore how organisations across 21 industries are planning to invest in enterprise IT

Investment in business technology is vital for any modern organisation.

A digital-first approach improves communication, boosts productivity and delivers cost-savings. But enterprise IT must remain agile, now more than ever before. So, what technologies are organisations prioritising in the UK and Ireland in the year ahead?

We asked over 1,500 of our customers this question...

The top three business tech priorities explained


Cyber Security

For the fourth year running, cyber security is ranked as organisations’ top business tech priority. 86 percent of industries say their focus for the year ahead is keeping users, data and infrastructure secure in the face of a rapidly evolving threat landscape.

This is up from 83 percent in 2019; unsurprisingly given recent statistics highlighting 96 percent of UK organisations experienced a cyber breach of some kind last year.

All sizes of organisation surveyed - from start-ups (0-50 employees), SMEs (50-250 employees) to large national and international companies (250-10,000+ employees) - ranked cyber security as their top business tech priority for the coming year.

It’s clear the COVID-19 pandemic has forced more organisations to look beyond financial or regulatory risks and place greater importance on cyber risk management as part of business continuity plans.

The rapid switch to a home working model in March meant many organisations were forced to review their security strategies and invest in more sustainable systems long term. So much so, cyber security became the fastest growing UK start-up sector during COVID-19 and organisations leaned on consultancies and invested in new tools to improve their security posture.

Only three industries – public education, private education and real estate – placed greater importance on other technologies, namely end user computing.


End User

End user computing (EUC) remains the second biggest tech priority area for organisations across the board, for the fourth year running.

Bringing the full digital workspace to life, end user computing consolidates all systems required for the daily workload and allows employees to work at their most productive, both on premises and remotely.

Poor end user experience can hit productivity and employee morale, something organisations are fighting hard to protect.

At the height of the pandemic in April, nearly half of UK employees were working from home (46.6 percent), rising to 57.2 percent in London.

Many employees, including some of the UK’s biggest, continue to support homeworking over returning to the office. Therefore, in the coming year, organisations are prioritising investment in the end user experience to optimise systems for the “new normal” way of working.


and Cloud

Investment in the datacentre and cloud capabilities also remains a top tech priority for organisations, coming in third place overall.

Pre COVID-19, organisations mostly looked to cloud as a way of accelerating the digital shift but were often held back by change barriers.

The pandemic has acted as a tipping point, forcing both public and private organisations to deploy cloud technologies in ways never thought possible. It’s also proven the ability to switch between on-premise and public cloud, and test new solutions in a closed environment, is a valuable insurance policy to have.

A new era for cloud tech adoption has begun, moving towards a multi-cloud environment with a more strategic emphasis. A multi-cloud approach can minimise latency, help organisations meet their data governance requirements, avoid vendor lock-in, and make for better security, failover and disaster recovery.

Expert Analysis

Four experts from Softcat’s consultancy and advisory service dive deeper into the report’s headline findings and explore the business tech trends they’re seeing across IT Intelligence, Digital Workspace, Cyber Security and Hybrid Infrastructure.

IT Intelligence

Dylan Foster-Edwards,
Technology Director:

“2020 has seen more rapid change than any of us of working age have seen in our lifetimes. Those who adjust quickly and dynamically to changing customer and legislative requirements stand to benefit most from a Covid and post-pandemic landscape, and from any future upswing in the economy once things start to settle down.

At the same time, business and organisations need now, more than ever, to keep control of costs in these challenging economic times. IT Intelligence is a key service in times of rapid change; enabling IT teams to rapidly make informed decisions to support dynamic business goals, to increase efficiency, keep control of costs and fully harness the value of the IT estate. The data is out there; creating actionable insight from it, however, is key.”

Digital Workspace

Adam Harding,
Chief Technologist for Digital Workspace:

“Without question, this has been the year of the remote workforce, with many organisations forced to rethink how they work and how they deliver for their employees, customers, patients and students. This rapid transformation to distributed work meant many had to give ground on employee experience and security to deliver workstyle flexibility. Heroically, IT teams across the globe got it done quickly, and now is the time to get it done well. It is time to harmonise productive employee freedoms with risk management and innovation.

Connecting a distributed workforce to an organisation’s culture and resources, the digital workspace and all the processes and technologies that combine to create it are unsurprisingly a top priority for the majority.

Moving forwards, embracing the concept of the remote-ready workforce will be key, while scrutinising every penny of spend through better data visualisation. At the same time, so too will be innovating, integrating, automating and offloading the remaining non-core IT services to partners better positioned to handle the scale of thousands of working locations and deliver immediate cost savings through rationalisation and simplification.”

Cyber Security

Adam Louca,
Chief Technologist for Security:

“It is no surprise security continues to be the number one tech priority for our customers. This year has seen dramatic shifts in the way organisations consume and deliver services. As we continue to see organisations shift towards a multi-cloud and multi-workspace environment, security remains a key foundational component.

2020 has seen an increased focus on integration and security as a platform, with many organisations looking to standardise and consolidate their security technology. This has been driven by continued resource restraints with our customers’ security operations teams.

We’ve also seen an increased desire for organisations to benchmark their performance against their peers and international standards such as Cyber Essentials and ISO 270001, together with an increased awareness of supply chain risk and demand for higher levels of assurance from suppliers. It’s clear Cyber Security excellence is now a differentiator for organisations and a must-have.”

Hybrid infrastructure

Dean Gardener,
Chief Technologist for Cloud:

“The use and evolution of cloud continued to accelerate over the last year and shows little sign of abating over the next. This is down to a combination of environmental, economic, technological and cultural shifts whereby organisations are now pushing the digital agenda to ensure they’re ready to meet the on-going challenges in the world today.

Beyond hybrid cloud, the evolving multi-cloud is now converging on-premises, public cloud and SaaS usage models to support rapid business transformation. But this does not come without technology complexity and operational challenges. Technical skill gaps, evolving busines operations and effective technical operational management will continue to be a challenge as the rate of transformation accelerates.

And as multi-cloud evolves so does the rate of application development. Joint engineering between public cloud hyperscalers and traditional on-premises vendors has increased velocity and new solutions and products are hitting the market, improving the platform, operational, security and connectivity consistency.

Ultimately, organisations will have more choice and simplified multi-cloud offerings, giving them more time to prioritise application transformation and the ability to move into the new innovation space needed to support immediate business drivers and subsequent digital shift.”

COVID-19: The impact on enterprise IT

In this year’s survey, our customers were also asked to share their biggest technology concern in relation to COVID-19.

Using their responses, we’ve created a word cloud to visualise their experiences since the pandemic started:

wordcloud wordcloud


Switching to remote working

Overwhelmingly, organisations said the switch to remote working was the biggest technology challenge they faced during the pandemic. 20 out of 21 industries surveyed agreed.

In March, many organisations had no choice but to switch to a fully operational remote working model with just a few days’ notice. A mobilisation of the workforce never seen before.

A significant cultural shift has taken place across industries, one which is likely to remain long after the COVID-19 pandemic. Organisations must continue to invest in remote working technologies and adapt leadership strategies to protect productivity, engagement and wellbeing.

Enhancing the digital workspace

A successful digital workspace strategy puts people first, technology second. It means the experience that securely connects people, apps, data and devices.

Organisations have been, and continue to, evaluate and invest in the digital experience of their workforces during the pandemic, focusing on workstyle flexibility, employee choice and collaborative workspaces that enable people to be more productive, engaged and happier.

Bolstering cyber security

As our survey shows, cyber security has and continues to be the number one tech priority for organisations. But the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a curveball, one that organisations have had to be quick to respond to. Securing data access through managing user identity and behavior has been a huge challenge as workforces switch to remote working. This has also complicated and widened security boundaries across devices, data centres and clouds. Cyber criminals have also been quick to capitalise on these new vulnerabilities, putting even more pressure on IT leaders to improve their security posture.

Leveraging the cloud

Cloud adoption has been increasing rapidly in recent years, as part of strategies to improve the scalability of organisation’s datacentres while reducing IT costs and risks. 2020 marks a new era for cloud computing, kick-started by the challenges presented by COVID-19. Its adoption has vastly increased and innovative new uses have been developed opening-up opportunities previously unimaginable within such short timescales. Business contingency planning and disaster recovery will be a priority for many coming out the other side of the pandemic. The importance of being able to scale up and scale down, as well as test new systems in a safe environment supports this.

for now

We hope you have enjoyed reading the 2020 Softcat Business Tech Priorities Report as much as we did. You can download the full report in PDF format here:

Download PDF

Today’s ever-changing IT-driven environment means that organisations must keep up to date with the latest trends, technologies and threats. From understanding the experience of our own organisation and our customers in 2020, it’s clear the pandemic took us ‘back to basics’.

Now is the time to build and improve upon this in order to support future prosperity and growth, in any eventuality. At Softcat, your priorities are our priorities.

As your partner, we will help you tackle the challenges in your IT environment and adapt to the “new normal”. We’ll help you make the most of your IT assets, identify opportunities to maximise and improve performance, and minimise your costs and risks.

If you’d like to get advice from one of our experts, get in touch using the contact form below:

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About Softcat

We are a leading provider of IT infrastructure to corporate and public sectors, with a passion for employee satisfaction and world-class customer service. We have nine offices across the UK and Ireland and a growing workforce of over 1,600 people.

We offer you a single point of purchase for bespoke, innovative IT solutions. This is delivered through a combination of our broad portfolio of IT services and solutions, a deep technical knowledge, and strong partnerships with leading vendors.

A strong and effective IT estate is underpinned by four priority areas: Hybrid Infrastructure, Cyber Security, Digital Workspace and IT Intelligence. Our team will work with you on these priorities to create a solution that meets your needs.

Whether it’s a piece of software, expert advice or full infrastructure transformation, our teams are ready to deliver.