ShareGate, a leading developer of easy-to-use software tools for IT pros working in Microsoft 365 and Teams, today announced the release of its first-annual benchmark report. Titled “State of Microsoft 365: Migration, Modernization, and Security in 2021”, the report draws on user data, Microsoft MVPs, and industry surveys to highlight trends in Microsoft 365 usage over the course of 2020.
A key insight highlighted in the report: organizations should resist the urge to see distributed work—and the methods of virtual collaboration that support it—as temporary. Migrating to the cloud is no longer an eventual possibility for businesses; it is now the default solution.
“What we’re seeing in 2020 [is] cloud migration projects that were supposed to take one year were executed in a couple of months,” said Benjamin Niaulin, Microsoft Regional Director and ShareGate’s Head of Product. “The COVID pandemic accelerated execution.”
The findings reveal that this past year has accelerated multiple existing trends in Microsoft 365 usage:
- Migration trends suggest companies are making fewer on-premises SharePoint migrations while increasingly moving to cloud-based Microsoft 365. Among ShareGate Desktop users, cloud-based migration operations jumped by 50%.
- Migration and modernization projects were accelerated by anything from one month to more than a year. As of February 2021, 43.2% of IT professionals who didn’t have a plan to “modernize” pre-COVID now have a plan to go modern.
- An increase in external sharing shows that users still need ways to collaborate inside and outside their core environment. In six months, the number of groups with external sharing links grew by 52.62% among ShareGate Apricot users, and the number of links per group grew by 73.74%
They also show that COVID-19 has fundamentally changed the nature of work:
- 74% of IT workers surveyed transitioned their entire workforce to distributed work in the past 12 months and 70% expect their workforce to continue working remotely through 2021.
- Cloud-based productivity tools have become essential, with over 40% of IT professionals citing Microsoft Teams deployment as the top motivator to move to modern Microsoft architecture.
- IT teams are increasingly embracing a self-service model with their users. Over 60% of respondents have some form of self-service functionality enabled in Microsoft 365, and 84% say that doing so saves their IT teams time and money.
“Before COVID, a lot of companies were in transition or planning to move to the modern workplace, but… it was more like a nice-to-have,” said Jasper Oosterveld, Microsoft MVP. “The pandemic definitely put more urgency behind it.”
In short, organizations—and the IT teams that support them—must integrate the tools and processes needed for people to connect, collaborate, and create from anywhere.
Key Takeaways for Microsoft 365 users and IT leaders in general
To produce the 2021 State of Microsoft 365 report, ShareGate surveyed more than 800 IT professionals across a broad cross-section of industries and company sizes, and analyzed anonymized user data from ShareGate Desktop and ShareGate Apricot products. They also included interviews from leading members of the Microsoft community who have consulted on workplace collaboration, cloud security, and infrastructure design for decades.
The report uncovers key trends in IT spaces:
- Flexible and distributed work is here to stay.
- Working in Microsoft 365/the cloud is the default solution.
- Adopting Microsoft’s modern workplace is no longer a nice-to-have.
- Productivity tools like Teams are now integral to how we work.
- User empowerment via self-service features is good for IT.
- People need the freedom to collaborate inside and outside their core environment.
- Security is everybody’s responsibility in a distributed workplace.
In addition to uncovering what’s at stake with the future of work in this benchmark report, ShareGate also identifies several strategies for facilitating efficient work environments in 2021 and beyond:
- Prioritize Microsoft 365/cloud migration over a SharePoint on-prem upgrade.
- Create a plan to implement and adopt Microsoft’s modern architecture and tools.
- Enable self-service features in Microsoft 365 and Teams to empower end users.
- Find a scalable middle ground that balances security concerns with collaboration needs.
“Users are a lot further along than we often think,” said Oosterveld. “I think this situation has proven that people are more capable of adopting these new technologies than others would have thought.”