While many organisational leaders may be glad to see the back of 2023, 2024 is likely to bring a continuation of many current challenges with some becoming even more acute in the short and longer-term. These include on-going workforce and talent shortages that are hampering business development and growth across sectors and industries.
The government’s predictions for a slow economic recovery, bordering on flatlining, now accept that persistent inflation is likely to lead to a very slow growth, probably not until 2025 or later. Technology has already demonstrated its transformative potential.
During the pandemic those with the right digital solutions were able to pivot and continue to operate with employees working remotely, while others adopted cloud-based systems that have enabled them to thrive despite external pressures. Emerging technologies such as AI and machine learning (ML) are also driving faster and more efficient automation. Despite this, the cost of doing business may be diverting resources and downgrading the urgency to invest in new technology, as the pressures of day-to-day business take over and organisations focus on ways to survive in the short term.
These leave IT leaders operating in the eye of the storm, shouldering the responsibility for helping their organisation overcome multiple operational challenges while balancing their own, specific technology challenges. The role of the IT leader has never been so important.
We are pleased to release the IT Services Trends Report, which shares perspectives from 1500 IT leaders across a range of industries, and provides insight into the current state of IT and preparing for the future. Headline findings include:
Cyber security, a constant concern
41% of IT leaders say cyber security and data protection is the number one challenge this year.
Less than half (47%) of IT leaders feel their digital systems are ‘very secure’ from cyberattacks, which reflects the ever-growing attack surface, sophistication of attack techniques, and that security is an ever-evolving practice which can always be improved and strengthened.
Encouragingly though, 44% of IT leaders feel more prepared for a cyberattack than they were a year ago, and 46% say they are ‘somewhat’ prepared. This may be down to increased investment in cyber security tools and a heightened awareness of potential risks, but nonetheless many sources claim that phishing scams, malware, and ransomware attacks are on the rise.
Current systems are falling behind
85% of IT leaders say they intend to upgrade their digital systems.
Innovation in digital technology is moving quickly and even those who are currently happy with their systems recognise the need to upgrade solutions to stay level with competitors. IT professionals are under pressure to keep up to date in an innovative and competitive digital environment and it is the job of the IT leader to prioritise the implementation of the most effective technology that can help the organisation achieve its goals.
Half (51%) of IT professionals tell us that digital transformation is their biggest priority for the coming year, reflecting that notion that what is sufficient today may well not be in a few months’ time, and organisations must innovate to stay competitive.
Barriers to digital upgrading
43% of IT leaders say the biggest challenge when implementing new technology is attachment to traditional methods.
Many users are stuck in their ways and may need convincing that they can do their jobs more effectively by making a change. 41% also tell us that user resistance to new technology is one of the key considerations when adopting new technologies for the business.
Another challenge for IT leaders is getting on top of the skills shortage, finding ways to attract, recruit and retain enough suitably qualified and experienced people in order to drive their business objectives. 31% of IT leaders say one of the biggest barriers to adopting new tech is the lack of in-house IT skills to support technology implementation projects.
The outsourcing solution
82% of organisations outsource all or some of their IT stack to an external provider.
While 40% of IT leaders say budget is holding them back from modernising, outsourcing can be a more cost-effective solution for many organisations than maintaining an in-house team. It enables greater flexibility with skills, so that businesses can access the skills they need, when they need them, without the commitment of hiring and employing them in-house.
Outsourcing partners can also ensure that systems are maintained in the most cybersecure way, helping reduce one of the worries that keep IT leaders awake at night and provide round the clock support so productivity never dips.
IT leaders and AI
97% of IT leaders feel positive to some degree about what GenAI can do.
AI and specifically Generative AI may be a new and unregulated technology, but IT leaders are ahead of other colleagues in their understanding and the great majority feel positive about the potential benefits it can bring to their organisations.
Looking at how GenAI is currently being implemented within organisations, 30% of IT leaders say they are actively using GenAI in all areas of their organisation, 41% are currently experimenting with GenAI in certain projects or departments, and 18% say they are in the planning stage of implementing it in the near future.
To read the report in full, download it for free here (select the 'IT Leaders' option).