Business needs and strategy have fundamentally changed during 2020, driven by response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Much of what learning and development organizations were able to do as they also pivoted their delivery approach during this time was supported by whatever technology IT had available, or that could be brought to bear quickly. Changes in L&D delivery will continue to evolve through 2021, tied closely to current and future IT infrastructure decisions, strategies, and priorities. This article outlines some of the results of a study on the ways L&D organizations in enterprise settings and in the education field met demands in 2020, and trends that will affect future planning for learning support and deployments, especially regarding adoption of integrated cloud technology by IT.

Nutanix, a global company that provides cloud software and hyperconverged infrastructure solutions, commissioned research on the state of global enterprise cloud deployments and adoption plans. The research involved organizations across multiple industries, business sizes, and geography, including the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA); and the Asia-Pacific (APJ) region.

Survey respondents were asked about the effect of the pandemic on current and future IT infrastructure decisions and how IT strategy and priorities might be changing because of it. Many of the trends uncovered will affect L&D deployments as IT moves toward their operating model of choice: hybrid cloud infrastructure. The study also includes data on technical challenges that education and L&D organizations have experienced, and how education and L&D priorities have shifted. Some of these changes are substantial. This is information that L&D and IT leaders should be aware of in planning for 2021 and 2022.

To begin with, in 2019, about 27% of respondent companies had no full-time at-home workers. That number fell to 7% in 2020 according to the study. While some remote workers will ultimately return to their traditional office locations during the course of the next two years, not all will. The ratio of working from home vs working from the office is unlikely to return to pre-COVID levels. By 2022, 13% of respondent companies expect to have no full-time remote employees, less than half as many as in 2019. With the larger remote workforce, continued investments in cloud infrastructure and in security will be a priority in order to serve a larger remote workforce. Improving IT infrastructure (50%) or work-from-home capabilities (47%) have become priorities for the next 12 to 18 months

According to 55% of education respondents, “ensuring remote workers have adequate hardware” was one of the primary technical challenges that they faced. At the same time, there were increased expenses in IT infrastructure and services to introduce or expand remote learning in the era of social distancing. While this accelerated the progress of digital transformation for learning, it also exposed more challenges, including the need to identify and evaluate the options and to provide employees working from home with necessary technology and access. Security was another concern and so were changing privacy laws about where learner, employee and customer personal data can be stored; this is a concern for IT and L&D alike. The sector also ranked high in private cloud deployments, with 29% of respondents saying they were running private clouds only (substantially more than the 22% global total). In this regard, education was second only to the business and professional services sector.

Readers can download the complete report today.