Report shines light on tech that has steered the sector through COVID complications

On top of revealing the devices and solutions that have allowed educators to navigate the ongoing pandemic disruption, the report highlights the tech that should be prioritised over the next 12 months

A new report sheds light on the technologies that have helped steer education through one of the most difficult – not to mention disrupted – years the sector has seen thus far.

Produced by IT infrastructure solutions provider Softcat, the Business Tech Priorities Report 2020 reflects the views of more than 1,500 public and private sector organisations in the UK and Ireland, across 21 industries.

Daily operations across the education sector have been completely transformed amid the ongoing pandemic, altering procedures surrounding duty of care, staff absences, remote learning, the digital divide and learning attainment gaps among students. This runs alongside rising pressure on public sector institutions to keep data secure, manage finances, and drive workforce productivity.

Technology has enabled the education sector’s ability to adapt to the changing situation, mobilising its workforce and allowing it to adopt new operating models, which many institutions may decide to implement long-term.

Overall, 20 of the 21 industries surveyed – including education – agreed that their most pressing tech challenge during the pandemic came with the switch to remote teaching and learning.

“It is clear from our 2020 Business Tech Priorities Report that the importance of enterprise IT has truly been solidified, accelerating demand and giving rise to innovative use cases” – Richard Wyn Griffith, Softcat

As such, the report posits that the biggest priority area for IT investment in educator should be end-user computing (EUC), which consolidates all daily workload systems and allows employees – including teachers – and students to work productively and securely, whether they are on-campus or working from home.

Cybersecurity is names as the second biggest tech priority for the education sector. Other industries agreed, with 86% of respondents citing a primary focus on keeping users, data and infrastructure secure throughout 2021. This is up 83% on results from the 2019 report.

This makes sense, education has become an increasingly prominent target for cybercrime in recent years, with a government survey from last year showing that secondary schools, FE and HE institutions are at the greatest risk, with 76% and 80% of institutions, respectively, identifying breaches or attacks in the last 12 months.

Cybercriminals also capitalised on the chaos caused by national lockdown, with education providers being forced to lapse on security measure to support a rapid response to the disruption. Attackers used this gap to their advantage, with breaches on UK organisations surging by a third in 2020’s first quarter.

These findings confirm that the education sector must strive to standardise and consolidate its security technology, allowing institutions to balance employee productivity alongside student freedom and cyber risk management.

Networking technologies were identified as the third most pressing investment area for the education sector, as a digitised, stable, secure and reliable network is key to facilitating speedy and efficient communication between computers and devices.

Richard Wyn Griffith, MD of Softcat, commented: “This year has been hugely challenging for the education sector. Despite each unprecedented twist and turn, organisations have shown agility, creativity and intelligence in the face of disruption and pressure.

“It is clear from our 2020 Business Tech Priorities Report that 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.”

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