Hybrid working will put pressure on IT infrastructure

Cristina De Luca -

June 24, 2021

The lasting impact of remote working will result in the immediate need to reassess IT infrastructure, warns Gartner. According to the consultancy, remote workers will represent 32% of the workforce worldwide by the end of this year. And if we consider only the so-called “knowledge workers” this rate rises even further, to 51%.

The consultancy defines “knowledge workers” as those who are involved in knowledge-intensive occupations, such as writers, accountants, or engineers. On the other hand, remote workers are employees who work away from the workplace at least one full day a week (hybrid workers) or in the home office (fully remote workers).

The US will lead the way in terms of remote workers in 2022, accounting for 53% of the US workforce. Across Europe, remote workers in the UK will account for 52% of its workforce by 2022, while remote workers in Germany and France will account for 37% and 33% respectively.

According to the consultancy, by 2024, organizations will be forced to submit digital business transformation plans in at least five years. And those plans will have to adapt to a post-COVID-19 world that involves a permanently increased adoption of remote working and digital touchpoints.

This long-term strategic plan will require ongoing investment in strategic technologies such as hyperautomation, AI, and collaboration technologies. Social and collaboration tools will continue to be “must-haves”, which will lead the global social software and collaboration revenue market to increase by 17.1% in 2021 compared to 2020, totaling $4.5 billion.

Impact on how IT will be procured and used

Many organizations have had to change and adapt their IT approaches to support this increase in remote workforces and ensure business continuity. This movement will further intensify as work environments become more hybrid or fully remote in the coming years.

The hybrid workforce will continue to increase demand for PCs and tablets. By 2021, PC and tablet shipments will exceed 500 million units for the first time in history, highlighting demand in the business and consumer markets.

Organizations have also deployed the cloud to enable remote employees quickly. Gartner predicts that end-user spending worldwide on public cloud services will grow 23.1% in 2021 as CIOs and IT leaders continue to prioritize the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model. Cloud-native applications have visibility gaps, creating monitoring and management challenges.

This will result in at least 40% of all remote access being served predominantly by zero-trust network access (ZTNA) by 2024, up from less than 5% at the end of 2020. Not coincidentally, worldwide spending on information security and risk management technology and services is expected to grow by 12.4% to reach $150.4 billion in 2021, according to the consultancy’s latest forecast.

To combat attacks, organizations will extend and standardize monitoring activities for threat detection and response. ” Organizations continue to grapple with the regulatory and security demands of the public cloud and software-as-a-service,” said Lawrence Pingree, vice president of research management at Gartner. “Looking ahead, we are seeing early signs of the growing automation market and increased adoption of machine learning technologies in support of security,” he adds.

Cybersecurity control failures were listed as the top emerging risk by leaders heard from the consultancy in the first quarter of this year. “Many organizations were forced to implement quick fixes as a result of their initial responses to the pandemic,” explained Matt Shinkman, vice president of the Gartner Risk and Audit Practice. “Nowhere was this more apparent than in cybersecurity policies that prioritized local security over secure remote work access. The executives responsible for these areas are realizing that the time to implement more sustainable and robust policies has arrived.”

The trend is towards increasing the adoption of the Cybersecurity Mesh approach. A distributed architectural approach to scalable, flexible, and reliable cybersecurity control consists of deploying controls where they are needed most. With many IT assets now outside of traditional corporate perimeters, a cybersecurity mesh architecture will enable organizations to extend security controls to distributed assets. The concept recognizes that networks have no physical boundaries. Organizations need to build a security perimeter around each user, allowing them to securely access assets from any location and device.

Authentication and access management will be crucial

Ensuring that each node has its own perimeter will enable IT, network managers, to better maintain and track differential levels of access to different parts of a given network and prevent hackers from exploiting a particular node’s weakness.

According to Gartner:

  • The cybersecurity fabric will support more than 50% of IAM requests: Today, most digital assets, identities, and devices are outside the enterprise, complicating traditional security models. When it comes to IAM requests, Gartner predicts that the cybersecurity mesh will support the majority of IAM requests and enable a more explicit, mobile, and adaptive unified access management model. With the mesh model, enterprises get a more integrated, scalable, flexible, and reliable approach to digital asset access points and control than traditional security perimeter protection.

  • IAM service delivery will lead to an increase in the number of managed service providers (MSP), complemented by monitoring tools, and managed security service providers (MSSP)s. By 2023, 40% of IAM application convergence will be driven by MSSPs.

  • Identity proofing tools will be added to the workforce identity lifecycle: More robust logging and recovery procedures are urgently needed, thanks to the huge increase in remote interactions, which make it harder to differentiate between attackers and legitimate users, even with the use of powerful monitoring tools. Gartner says that by 2024, 30 percent of large enterprises will implement new identity proofing tools to address common weaknesses in workforce identity lifecycle processes.

  • Decentralized identity standards emerge: centralized approaches to managing identity data make it more difficult to provide privacy, assurance, and pseudonymity. With the decentralized approach powered by the mesh model, blockchain technology ensures privacy and allows individuals to validate information requests, providing the requestor with only the minimum amount of information needed. By 2024, Gartner predicts that a truly global, portable, and decentralized identity standard will emerge in the market to address business, personal, social, and social, and invisible identity use cases.

  • Demographic bias in identity proofing will be minimized: more companies are interested in document-centric approaches to identity proofing. The emergence of remote working in 2020 has drawn attention to the many ways in which bias regarding race, gender, and other characteristics can occur in online use cases. Therefore, by 2022, 95% of organizations will require identity proofing providers to prove they are minimizing demographic bias.