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As we lean in to what will undoubtedly be another transformational year—amidst political transition in the United States and the ongoing global pandemic—here at OwnBackup, we’ve been taking stock of where we are and what’s to come. In many ways, 2020 brought on permanent transformation to most enterprise IT landscapes, creating ripple effects the business world will likely experience for years to come.

In particular, here are three specific shifts that we expect will gain significant traction in the coming year:

1) 2021 will be the year SaaS comes of age

Last year, companies learned the hard way that disruption can happen at any time. They were reminded that the time for transformation was yesterday. And in many cases, we saw that only the agile survived. It was a rude awakening, most especially for those who put off long-promised digital transformation. 2020 marked an inflection point from which there is no turning back. Software-as-a-service (SaaS) is no longer just a way of buying business systems, it is the only way of buying business systems. Gone are the days when a CIO will debate whether SaaS is the right move, Instead, the question will be, “which cloud solution is best for the business?” What we are witnessing is the acceleration of the model Salesforce pioneered nearly 23 years ago. 

Enterprises now average an astounding 288 SaaS apps, and by the end of 2022, 86% percent of organizations expect 80% of their software to be in the cloud. Every modern enterprise will run in the cloud on names like Salesforce, Microsoft, Workday, Slack, Zoom, Zendesk, Hubspot, and Jira—not just because they’re scalable, cost-effective, or customizable with little or no code, but because SaaS enables CIOs to guarantee their business will be digitally driven and their systems readily available when and where their teams need them. However, as companies run faster and faster in the cloud, many will see a corresponding increase in faulty code, data corruption, data leakage, and data loss. As our customers know all too well, better cloud-to-cloud storage, backup, and recovery solutions are key to addressing those challenges.

2) CIOs will embrace their role in data security and adopt guardrails to ensure oversight

As SaaS continues to pervade, concerns about the ability of cloud service providers to safeguard customer data have largely diminished. This has created a false sense of security because organizations fail to identify their greatest risk: vulnerabilities are inevitable whenever people, even those in their own trusted workforce, have access to data. According to Gartner, 99% of cloud security failures and resulting data loss will be the customer’s fault through 2025. One specific driver of this risk is that most SaaS solutions are becoming increasingly extensible through low-code, no-code, and pro-code tools, and with that power comes great responsibility. Workflows and applications created by non-IT professionals greatly increase the chance of inadvertent data loss or corruption impacting mission-critical SaaS systems.

To address this, CIOs and CISOs will turn the question of data governance inward and recognize that it’s their responsibility—not the SaaS vendors—to protect all data stored in the cloud, devices, as well as to closely manage accounts and access policies. It is IT leadership’s job to safeguard data from any threat (internal or external) and ensure that their cloud providers deliver bulletproof security and compliance guardrails. As more SaaS customers realize that data backup is their responsibility, they’ll turn to data protection platforms to help mitigate the impacts of human error that often cause data corruption or loss

3) Traditional business continuity practices will be reinvented

Most backup and recovery approaches are still stuck in the era of disaster recovery centered around infrastructure failures, making them ill-suited for the data management needs of an always-on, digital world. This year, we predict that companies will start to shift their focus from the ‘backup’ portion of business continuity planning to the much more difficult and important topic of ‘recovery.’ 

More modern, forward-thinking approaches to recovering from data loss and corruption will involve advances in system uptime, data monitoring, rogue change isolation, and valid data identification. In addition, organizations will adopt more efficient strategies for data restoration back to any point in time, such as frequent incremental backups, as well as more configurable retention policies that automate compliance. Finally, next-generation data storage techniques will include controls like replicating the data to three different availability zones in a given region, and validation that each push and pull of backup data is working properly. 

We’re inspired by how our thousands of forward-looking customers are tackling these evolving dynamics head-on, and we look forward to sharing their best practices over the course of this year. Stay tuned for more on how innovative data strategies can support continued digital transformation.

For more insights, check out the data backup and recovery report from Forrester Research Senior Analyst Naveen Chhabra.