Future-Proofing Europe, Middle East and Africa IT Strategies

Over 80% of EMEA IT decision-makers see improving data compliance, cybersecurity and customer experience as their top priorities for future success

Matthew George
Future-Proofing Europe, Middle East and Africa IT Strategies

Contributing to the annual Equinix 2022 Global Tech Trends Survey (GTTS)[1] report, 1,700 IT decision-makers across Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA)[2] weighed in on today’s biggest technology trends and challenges. The results uncovered the top priorities for future-proofing EMEA businesses’ IT strategies as they reinvent themselves throughout the ongoing global pandemic.

According to the GTTS results, over 80% of EMEA IT decision-makers see improving data compliance, cybersecurity and customer experience as their top priorities for future success. However, they also reported challenges that threaten these objectives, including:

  • Increasing cyberattacks and security breaches and data leaks
  • Changing regulatory environments around data privacy
  • Global microchip shortage and issues with supply chains and shortages
  • Meeting environmental sustainability targets

As EMEA companies address these challenges, the GTTS shows them moving toward the next generation of transformation by deploying more agile, flexible and interconnected digital infrastructures. By taking a virtualized approach to infrastructure, these companies can switch connections on and off as needed, putting them in a better position to adapt quickly to whatever the future might bring.

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Next-gen digital transformation in EMEA

Over the next three years, EMEA companies are focusing on the next generation of digital transformation. Top priorities include:

  • 5G network infrastructure
  • Personal data and privacy rights
  • Real-time applications
  • IoT applications
  • Interconnection
  • Edge computing

Even with these digital transformation goals front of mind, over half of EMEA GTTS respondents felt they weren’t moving fast enough in their transformation and are advancing digital strategies to speed things up despite the challenges of the global pandemic.

Accelerating their digital transformation could be why cloud computing is a critical component in EMEA companies’ digital-first strategies. In fact, 64% of IT decision-makers said they will be moving more functions to the cloud in the next 12 months. Hybrid cloud is the most common deployment approach for EMEA IT leaders, especially within the Africa subregion, with private cloud being the most prominent in GEM countries.[3]

EMEA businesses see the biggest impact of having a strong 5G network as being able to take advantage of new digital technologies (AI, IoT, etc.). This was particularly true of companies in Africa, Bulgaria, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). However, in Frankfurt, London, Amsterdam and Paris (FLAP), there is particularly strong concern that 5G networks will increase CAPEX and reduce OPEX.

Around four in 10 IT decision-makers in EMEA said they expect Web3—the latest evolution of the internet, defined by a more decentralized approach—to fully replace Web2 within the next one to five years. In the FLAP metros, 43% of companies believe this will happen within the next year.

Nearly half of IT decision-makers in EMEA say their interconnection spending in 2021 increased compared to 2020. This share is even higher in Africa, where around two-thirds of the respondents increased their interconnection spending. IT organizations across EMEA see the main benefits of interconnection as improving network optimization and distributed security, and facilitating digital transformation.

These next-gen digital transformation strategies all play toward a much more agile, distributed hybrid IT footprint that is a combination of interconnected physical and virtual infrastructure, enabling EMEA companies to reinvent themselves as digital-first businesses.

Global chip shortage and supply chain disruption are driving virtualization

Virtualization is accelerating due to chip shortages and supply chain disruption caused by the global pandemic lockdowns. Across EMEA, 52% of IT leaders see the global microchip shortage as a threat, and feel that global supply chain issues and challenges working with more complex digital supply chains are impacting their organizations.

In response to these obstacles, approximately two-thirds of EMEA IT decision-makers say they are moving toward an Everything as a Service (XaaS) model, with businesses in Africa most likely to make the transition. At a time when hardware backlogs could last up to 12 months, it’s no surprise that many organizations value XaaS for the greater flexibility and agility it enables. About half of EMEA IT leaders say that an XaaS model is attractive to their business because it’s more flexible and allows them to add or remove elements from their IT infrastructure as needed.

Building a sustainable future is a business imperative

The results of the GTTS make it clear that prioritizing sustainability is much more than just the responsible thing to do; it’s rapidly becoming a requirement to attract new business and stay ahead of the competition. For example, 65% of IT decision-makers across the globe say they will only work with IT partners who can meet key carbon reduction targets.

In addition, more than two-thirds of EMEA companies indicated that reducing their environmental impact is a priority for their organization’s technology strategy, with over half of the businesses committing to Science Based Targets. Africa, France, Germany, Spain, Turkey, the UAE and UK are some places where organizations are most committed to meeting their sustainability objectives.

Protecting company data and security is priority #1

EMEA companies are increasingly focusing on better complying with data protection regulations. However, two-thirds of IT decision-makers also see cyberattacks, security breaches and data leaks as considerable threats. The majority of EMEA organizations are moving IT infrastructure to the digital edge and adopting edge services to deal with security threats and comply with data sovereignty. In the FLAP metros, the use of the digital edge to comply with data sovereignty is higher than in other subregions.

The cloud also seems to be offering EMEA companies some solutions to data protection and privacy issues, as survey respondents are planning on moving their databases and security tools to cloud services. EMEA IT organizations are also looking to private interconnection to address these concerns, with many of them saying that interconnection improves distributed security and ensures data compliance.

Improving the customer and employee user experience equals retention

EMEA companies recognize the need to improve acquisition and retention for both customers and employees: 82% said improving the customer experience was a top priority, whereas 78% said the same regarding their employee user experience. In EMEA, around one in four IT decision-makers say they are expanding into new regions, countries or cities in the next year. Expanding into new regions and moving digital infrastructure closer to users is a huge step toward improving customer experience as companies expand their global reach.

Companies are leveraging hybrid work, along with XaaS, edge and interconnection strategies to achieve these goals. However, with 46% of EMEA companies encouraging their employees to come into the office more often, almost half of the IT decision-makers see maintaining both home and work office environments for employees as a challenge.

Equinix has long been a champion and supporter of companies on their digital transformation journeys. The resilience of EMEA businesses throughout the pandemic continues to inspire us. As the GTTS demonstrates, technological changes made by companies in EMEA during the pandemic could be here to stay and have created many new opportunities for companies to accelerate the adoption of their digital strategies.

The Equinix 2022 GTTS gives businesses greater insights into how IT decision-makers around the world are future-proofing their strategies to achieve their most critical business, digital transformation and sustainability goals. Learn more by reading the Equinix 2022 Global Tech Trends Survey.


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[1] The annual Equinix 2022 Global Tech Trends Survey gathers opinions on the biggest tech trends from IT leaders around the world; 2,900 IT decision-makers in 29 markets surveyed from 01 March 2022 – 29 March 2022.

[2] EMEA Countries: Bulgaria, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Nigeria, Poland, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom.

[3] GEM Countries: Bulgaria, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Arab Emirates

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Matthew George Director, Equinix Research Group, EMEA
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