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The 20 Top News Stories Of 2020

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the IT industry’s response to the social justice movement, a failed corporate takeover attempt, the division of the oldest IT vendor into two companies, and the most extensive cyberattack in years. It has been a very tumultuous 2020.

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1. COVID-19 Pandemic: Economic Downturn And Work From Home Leads To Strategic Pivots For IT Vendors, Solution Providers

The first IT industry-related news stories about the coronavirus focused on the outbreak in China, including Google suspending operations at its offices in China, Amazon restricting business travel to the country and Apple facing iPhone production constraints as manufacturing plants in China shut down.

By mid-February it became clear the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, although not declared a pandemic until March 11, would reach far beyond China’s borders. The first casualty was the Mobile World Congress 2020 conference in Barcelona, scheduled to begin Feb. 24, which was cancelled on Feb. 12 after a number of major participants like Cisco Systems, Intel, and Sprint dropped out.

From that point just about every IT industry event and conference was canceled and replaced with an online virtual event, including a number of major vendor customer, developer and partner conferences such as HP Inc.’s Reinvent, Google Cloud Next, Dell Technologies World 2020, Amazon’s AWS re:Invent 2020 and Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference.

To halt the spread of the virus many countries around the world – and states within the U.S. – began shutting down their economies and issuing stay-at-home orders. That led to an unprecedented number of businesses ordering their employees to work from home – a change that has had far-reaching consequences for solution providers that have had to quickly pivot and support clients’ employee needs for laptops and other work-from-home equipment such as collaboration tools, video conferencing services and more.

A number of leading IT vendors including Cisco Systems, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, IBM and SAP, took steps to help their channel partners absorb the economic blow from the pandemic by suspending sales targets, providing program level protection, extending deadlines for certification and specialization renewals, and offering generous financing terms, flexibility in using market development funds, and free or subsidized training opportunities.

Some IT vendors have benefited from the increased demand for their products and services generated by the pandemic including laptop computer manufacturers, suppliers of collaboration tools, cloud platform vendors like Microsoft Azure and – most certainly – Zoom Video Conferencing. Cisco Systems reported that user volume for its Webex collaboration platform tripled from March to June.

But others have taken financial hits because of the pandemic and economic slowdown. Application giant SAP saw the value of its stock plunge – wiping out more than $33 billion in market capitalization – after the company lowered its earnings forecast for the year.

As 2020 drew to a close and the first vaccines against the coronavirus were being administered, questions remain about both the short-term and long-term impact of the pandemic. No one can say how quickly the economy will rebound in 2021 and what the IT market will look like in the new year.

Beyond the more immediate impact, the pandemic could have long-range effects on IT and the IT industry. A report from IPED, the research arm of The Channel Company, noted that solution providers are re-focusing their practices to meet surging demand for cloud and managed services, consumption-based IT and subscription services. And a report from the McKinsey & Company consulting firm, based on a survey of 899 C-level executives and senior business managers across industries and geographies, concluded that the pandemic has accelerated the pace of digital transformation and the adoption of cloud computing.



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