Where did 2021 go? It feels like yesterday that I just finished writing the 2020 Wrap Up post!
2020 we all know was terrible for many reasons. 2021 unfortunately didn't seem to get any better despite some early optimism at the end of 2020. Our province alone had suffered some tremendous tragedies from the Lytton fire to the severe flooding... it is hard to put into words the scope of the damage. On the human side, the discovery of the unmarked graves of the residential schools in BC also made a significant impact on us as a society. Through it all, people remained resilient.
While in 2021 the bad actors didn't put a break on cybersecurity breaches, we did see a significant drop of ransomware profits from 2020. This is a good indicator that organizations are much better prepared this year around when it comes to cybersecurity. Still, as you will see in the trend highlight below, it also means the attacks have gotten more sophisticated.
As a business, this year I really tried to focus more effort on our web presence and general education. We released an entire blog series on Intune OMA-URI, which is our most popular blog posts. If you haven't seen it, we really recommend you do as it is packed with information. As well, we put out some tips on Teams and SharePoint, that really showcases some of the capabilities of Microsoft's business suite.
This summer, SiFr also had its first ever Strategy Retreat hosted on the beautiful Sunshine Coast. During the retreat, we focused on what worked well for our clients this past year, and what we need to change going forward... and played many rounds of IT Against Humanity (I made the game from scratch based on the very popular Cards Against Humanity).
In reviewing what we did and didn't do well, we decided to cancel our service offering of Google Workspace and AWS, and focus on the Microsoft stack of technologies. Why? Because both partners of SiFr have an enterprise technology background grounded in Microsoft's foundational infrastructure. So we believe this is where we can best provide expert advice to clients. Additionally, as our client base grew, we needed to focus our efforts in order to deliver our best service.
While security threats with Ransomware and Phishing remain largely unchanged from 2020, they are getting more sophisticated as companies are better prepared, and employees are better trained against these types of attacks.
Additionally we are seeing a raise of:
Cryptojacking is where attackers take over a device (physical or virtual) to use its processing powers to "mine" for cryptocurrency. If you aren't sure what cryptocurrency is, crypto mining generally requires computers to solve complex mathematical problems. By hi-jacking your systems to perform these complex calculations, the attacker can essentially render the system unusable for normal functions.
In 2021 we also saw rise of purported state-sponsored cyberattacks. While most smaller organization likely do not need to contend with the threat of state-sponsored hackers targeting their organization, it is an indication that cyberthreats are now better funded and better resourced. As such, organizations need to step up their defense as well.
All the market trends of IT for 2020 remain true for 2021. Digital transformation is still very key going into 2022. If your business have not started on this journey, I personally would not wait.
Intune and Device Management
Project wise, we saw a significant up-tick of projects around Intune. I think I completed six separate Intune engagements in a two months time span. Surprisingly, almost all of them were net-new implementations., meaning, companies are freshly adopting Intune as their remote device management solution.
If I need to attribute this trend to something, I would say that as the pandemic rolled on with more and more COVID variants, companies finally started to accept the reality that devices and data need to be managed while we're in this limbo. No longer are companies holding out hope they can simply announce for everyone to return to the office building in order to protect their data.
Collaboration via Teams
We also saw an increase of projects surrounding Microsoft Teams for better remote collaboration. Indeed, this is where Microsoft has focused much of its energy this year as well. Teams improvements were coming fast and furious out of Microsoft's development pipeline.
Not only did Microsoft focus on Teams as a meeting/file sharing platform, a focus has been placed on remote employee connections and wellbeing through the Viva suite of apps. I personally swear by Microsoft Viva as it helps to remind me of tasks and plan my day, and ensure I can better focus on tasks that require my full attention.
Did you know that switching between apps is a giant time waster and productivity killer? A report by PEGA showed that the average employee switches between 35 business apps more than 1,100 time a day. The report also showed less app switching contributed to less total errors. (page 6 of report).
So, if you're still using multiple apps to manage tasks, calendar, files, and meetings, I highly recommend you check out Teams as well.
Have you experienced other trends this year that we didn't cover? How was your experience with this year's technology trends? Let us know in the comments. Be sure to join us on LinkedIn, Facebook or follow us on Twitter to stay connected to the most up-to-date news about Information Technology and Cybersecurity.