IT managers: do you feel embattled by an array of IT challenges? You're not alone. As technology evolves at a breakneck pace and business conditions change, business computing faces more pressures than ever. Here are five to consider.
Upgrading IT infrastructure
According to the Spiceworks State of IT 2020 survey, upgrading IT infrastructure is one of the biggest drivers for increasing IT budgets this year. Equipment reaching end-of-life is the biggest issue, affecting 62% of respondents who were afraid of having to maintain obsolete kit. There are other drivers forcing people to upgrade equipment, though; some need more capacity, while others have particular feature requirements, perhaps linked to a business project. For 42% of IT managers, end-users drove the demand for new equipment.
This is closely linked to another big challenge for IT departments: growth in the number of employees. The survey found 47% of IT professionals scoring higher IT budgets as a direct result of this trend.
Workforce growth creates two issues for IT. First, it drives up capacity demand, because companies need more computing power and storage. Second, it changes end-user requirements. Adding more people alters the way a company works. Larger teams want more modern applications so that they can collaborate. Computing needs become more demanding and diverse, possibly driving IT into the cloud. That creates its own migration challenges.
Joint second on the overall Spiceworks list was cybersecurity, which is top of mind for any competent IT manager after reading about breaches like Equifax, Advent Health, and Dow Jones. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) have been in force for 18 months, and large technology companies have already suffered financial penalties. To avoid fines from the UK Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), along with reputational damage and private legal action, companies in the UK must rethink how they manage their customers' data and secure their applications.
Bridging the skills gap
Employee growth creates another challenge for IT departments: extra IT work. The more employees you have, the more irritating calls you'll get asking for password resets or for help turning on a machines that aren't plugged in. There are only so many tier 1 support staff on the market, and companies can't keep throwing more money at the problem.
Instead, they have to work smarter, which means building self-service portals and FAQs to help manage employee queries. It also means streamlining back-end IT processes ranging from employee onboarding and account provisioning through to patch management and change management. While this automation can save IT departments plenty of time in the long run, they have to find breathing time to plan and implement these solutions.
Keeping track of new tech
While IT departments grapple with these issues, they also have to keep an eye on the future. Technology is evolving more quickly than ever. Containers, serverless computing, software-defined networking, and SD-WAN are just some of the new business IT technologies that promise to give comapnies a competitive edge, but they all take new skills to master. IT departments that don't at least keep an eye on them risk dropping behind in IT delivery and becoming less important to the business.
What's clear from this list is that the challenges facing modern IT departments interweave with each other. Cybersecurity challenges and employee growth both exacerbate skills issues. Upgrading IT infrastructure is important to prepare companies for new technology developments. On the upside, some solutions can also address multiple problems. For example, cloud computing can unlock access to new technologies while also providing the capacity to manage new employees as companies grow. A joined-up approach to IT that tackles its challenges concurrently will help IT managers stay on top of them.