At Spiceworld 2020 (Virtual), Pandemic Mindset Looms Large

Spiceworld 2020 is happening in the virtual sphere this year.

The old saying goes: "You don't miss the water �til the well runs try." I've been reflecting on that this week as I've been popping in an out of SpiceWorld 2020 virtual sessions. The air of interest and excitement is a little muted, which helps me understand how much of the trade show experience just comes from hanging around with a large crowd of people with like interests and avocations.


Nevertheless, we all soldier on — including me, as I prepare to deliver my own technical session later today (it's Thursday, Sept. 17, as I write this post). I'll be talking about a specialized Windows 10 boot tool called Ventoy early this afternoon.


Pluses and Minuses for the  Virtual Tradeshow Experience


On the plus side, anybody can register to take part in virtual Spiceworld (even after its over). All of the sessions are available in recorded form from the get-go (this used to happen only 2-3 weeks after the show ended). You can, of course, easily pick up on content from sessions that were scheduled at the same time by watching them serially in whatever order you like.


All of the content is easily accessible, easily navigated, and readily auditioned at your convenience. These are all pretty impressive benefits as plusses go.


So what's missing? The sights, sounds, and smells of the convention center, for one. The press dinner the night before the show gets going. The regular breaks for snacks and meals with fellow show-goers. The opportunities for chance meetings and new friendships, and the renewal of ongoing personal and professional relationships.


Those are not huge or irreconcilable minuses — but I do kind of miss all of those things. Sigh.


SpiceWorks' State of IT 2021


Spiceworld 2020 would have happened in Austin, Texas, were it not for COVID-19.

One of my favorite parts of the show has always been taking a half-hour to meet with Spiceworks In-House Industry Analyst, Peter Tsai, to talk about his current State of IT report. This is now available through the Spiceworks/Ziff-Davis site (see previous link), so you can read it at your interest and discretion. Here are some of the highlights that most struck me:


1) The Pandemic Effect: As it has changed the world we live and work in, the COVID-19 pandemic has, in Peter's words, "caused uncertainty and profound shifts on a global level." Amidst the human health crisis, there's been ample economic instability and a profound shift away from on-premises, in-office IT to work-from-home (WFH) IT. Acccording to the latest report, 76 percent of organizations surveyed plan on making long-term changes to their IT infrastructures and working arrangements, largely impelled by the COVID-19 crisis.


2) Tech Spending: Responding to the pandemic has driven tech spending almost entirely for 2020, with one-third of 2021 budget increases also driven by pandemic responses.


3) IT Budgets: Overall, these will decline a bit for 2021 compared to 2020, but 80 percent of organizations surveyed plan to spend the same or a bit more in 2021 than they did in 2020.


4) Cloud and Managed Services Spend: As you'd expect, with more of everything happening remotely, cloud spend will increase in 2021, while hardware spending is set to decline in almost equal measure.


5) Innovation put on hold: Scrambling to adapt to increased remote access and all it entails means many organizations have put forward-looking (and forward-thinking) initiatives on hold for 2020 to, as Peter put it, "deal with more pressing needs."


Here's an interesting table from the report that I reproduce verbatim:


Spiceworld business plans graphic



To answer the question of what's driving IT budgets (and increases) right now, Tsai's survey results turned up an interesting collection of factors:


Need to upgrade IT infrastructure remains high (56 percent), but has dropped from the 2019 and 2020 surveys (both at 64 percent).
Increased priority on IT projects has likewise dropped (45 percent this year) from 2019 (56 percent) but is identical to 2020.
Increased security concerns have fallen dramatically, to 39 percent, from prior thresholds of 47 percent for 2020 and 56 percent for 2019.


New concerns include changes to business operations during pandemic (38 percent) and supporting remote workforce (36 percent). Other lesser factors include employee growth (33 percent), business revenue increases (25 percent), changes to regulations/compliance (23 percent), and recent security incident or breach (12 percent).


The real take-home, of course is that the pandemic has changed, is changing, and will change (in the future) everything, including IT. This is no surprise in and of itself because the impact is both obvious and pervasive. But it is interesting to see how it's playing out and affecting those who work in the world of IT. Good stuff!


Would you like more insight into the history of hacking? Check out Calvin's other articles about historical hackery:
About the Author

Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran who's worked as a software developer, technical marketer, consultant, author, and researcher. Author of many books and articles, Ed also writes on certification topics for Tech Target, ComputerWorld and Win10.Guru. Check out his website at, where he also blogs daily on Windows 10 and 11 topics.