2023's cloud priorities and trends

Issued by Cloud Essentials
Johannesburg, Sep 1, 2023

As 2022 kicks into full swing, the effects of the pandemic continue to linger. Businesses that spent the last two years scrambling to fast-track their cloud adoption journeys now find themselves in a brave new world of digital possibilities.

With new opportunities come new challenges and security and compliance risks, but also potential rewards from leveraging cloud technology. As a result, Chris Hathaway, Founder and Director of Cloud Essentials, says the majority of cloud priorities are likely to fall into the following four categories this year:


“For a lot of organisations, the initial rush to accommodate remote work via the cloud left no time for precision planning of their overall environment,” says Hathaway. “That inevitably means there will be inefficiencies, redundancies and untapped opportunities in those cloud deployments. I think 2022 will see a lot of businesses shift their priorities to retroactively address those shortfalls.”

This process is largely about stepping back to take stock of the existing cloud deployment and licensing and exploring the full range of capabilities they make available. That information can then be used to:

Identify and offload now-redundant third-party solutions in areas like archiving, content management, data protection/encryption and identity and mobile device management.

Shift workloads from unnecessary and/or end-of-life on-premises infrastructure into the cloud where appropriate.

Strategically manage, migrate and consolidate data within Microsoft for improved usability, now and in future.

“Done right, the end results should deliver a more efficient, effective and productive cloud environment that maximises return on investment while minimising unnecessary costs associated to legacy systems and data,” says Hathaway.

Productivity enhancement

Organisations that have already invested in consolidating their cloud environment will be turning their attention towards enhancing cloud capabilities with an eye on productivity.

“Priorities in this category include adapting to accommodate new hybrid workplaces and improving data governance and management to maximise the benefits of cloud apps like SharePoint, Teams and OneDrive,” says Hathaway. “The key, here, is to get a wider “business” audience involved and educated in the technology, to make content easy to find, easy to use and easy to collaborate on without jeopardising security or compliance and not just leaving it up to IT to get things done.”

It’s worth noting that productivity enhancements, particularly for apps like Teams, are ongoing in Microsoft’s cloud. New features and integrations are released regularly (see the latest Teams releases, here). As a result, even the most well-established deployments often have room for improvement if you know where to look.

Security and compliance

The move to remote work has inevitably highlighted a lot of new security and compliance risks that are associated with a highly mobile modern workforce. The complexity of controlling business-critical data and sensitive information under these circumstances has caught a lot of businesses by surprise.

“An unfortunate side-effect of the rapid roll-out of home-working means the right data governance controls were often not put in place from the start,” says Hathaway. “Remote work also means more devices and more sharing, increasing the risk of data leaks, cyber attacks and ransomware.”

Now that the dust has settled, Hathaway says businesses in this situation will be looking to shore up their vulnerabilities for this “new perimeter” in 2022. For them, in-depth compliance reviews and security assessments against Microsoft’s Zero Trust Model will be the order of the day.

Innovation and acceleration

Of course, plenty of businesses were already established in the cloud when the pandemic hit. For them, the shift to home and remote work was nothing new. According to Hathaway, many of these businesses will now be building on their existing cloud foundations to move to the next level of cloud maturity and advanced information management in 2022.

“Key focus areas will be AI and machine learning’s productivity and user experience improvement capabilities,” he says. “Tools like Viva Topics and SharePoint Syntex will definitely be taking centre stage. The knowledge-surfacing and expertise-amplifying benefits of these technologies offer a huge competitive edge for our clients – we’re very much looking forward to helping our customers build knowledge management teams that can sharpen the access and speed to the information.”