As employees’ transition to hybrid work environments following COVID-19, IT leaders are now investing more in cloud-based and AI-powered networking technologies. According to a global survey of 2,400 IT decision-makers (ITDMs), 38% of IT leaders plan to increase their investment in cloud-based networking, and 35% in AI-based networking, as they seek more agile, automated infrastructures for hybrid work environments.

The survey, commissioned by Aruba, also said that the average proportion of IT services consumed via subscription will accelerate by 38% in the next two years, from 34% of the total today to 46% in 2022. Also, the share of organizations that consume a majority (over 50%) of their IT solutions ‘as a service’ will increase by approximately 72% in that time.

ITDMs report that the impact of COVID-19 has been significant both on their employees and short-term network investments. While 22% describe the impact on their employees as ‘significant’ (widespread furlough or layoffs), 52% considered it ‘moderate’ (temporary reductions in some functions), and 19% ‘low’ (very few jobs impacted).

ITDMs in India (57%) and Brazil (34%) were most likely to cite a significant impact on their employees, while those in Hong Kong (12%) and Mexico (10%) reported the least, highlighting a massive swing in experiences between regions.

As many as 77% said that investments in networking projects had been postponed or delayed since the onset of COVID-19, and 28% indicated that projects had been cancelled altogether.

Project cancellations were highest in Sweden (59%) and lowest in Italy (11%), showing there are also significant disparities between countries within the same region, while 37% of ITDMs in education and 35% in hotels and hospitality globally said they have had to cancel network investments.

By contrast, the vast majority of ITDMs have plans to maintain or increase their networking investments in light of COVID-19, as they work to support the new needs of employees and customers.

An astounding 38% globally will increase their investment in cloud-based networking, with 45% maintaining the same level and 15% scaling back. The APAC region was the global leader with 45% stating increased investment in cloud-based networking, rising to 59% among ITDMs in India.

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