Bloatware: IT Pros Waste Time Due to Bloated Applications
August 23, 2022
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Global IT professionals spend nearly a full work day each week (an average of 7 hours and 19 minutes) dealing with bloatware — unwanted, overly complicated SaaS add-ons and features that hinders productivity and causes frustration at work, according to State of Workplace Technology: Bloatware — the difference between love and hate for workplace tech, a new report from Freshworks.

The cost of trying to use unhelpful technology amounts to more than $84B annually in wasted time in the US alone, or $10M every hour of every day, reinforcing that complex systems continue to be a major financial strain — not to mention the negative implications they can have on workplace morale and productivity.

The report found that 89% of the global IT professionals surveyed waste time each week due to pervasive bloated technology, distracting them from their core responsibilities and undermining the bottom line.

IT Pros Want More of Less

Despite widespread innovation and a societal movement toward simple, easy-to-use apps, the new study reveals that bloatware is a persistent and pernicious problem for organizations. IT professionals report that they have an average of 14 different applications available for use on their work computer, but only actively use half of them — meaning that half are simply a distraction that lowers overall system performance.

Almost every IT professional (94%) says that their company could benefit from reducing overall software contracts, while seven in ten (71%) say their company would benefit from simpler software.

The problem is widespread and substantial, with IT professionals reporting bloatware infiltrates many aspects of their work. Notable findings include:

■ Too much clutter. Over half (54%) say their organization pays for SaaS features that their IT teams never use.

■ Work software is overly complex. Forty percent say too much of their tech stack is hard to use.

■ It's expensive. 45% say their organization spends too much on its tech stack, while over one-third (34%) believe their company doesn't know how to stop paying for unnecessary services.

■ Fragmented solutions. Nearly two-thirds (63%) prefer a single software solution for IT service management rather than several applications.

Despite these costly and frustrating issues with software, seven in 10 (70%) IT pros have hesitations about sharing feedback on their software.

Why? 1 in 5 don't want to be seen as a complainer (21%) and say their company has a history of ignoring feedback (21%), while 17% don't believe they'll be listened to.

"Technology is critical for business success in today's digital-first world, but far too many organizations are distracted by software they don't want and can't use to deliver on their full potential," said Professor Joe Peppard, former Principal Research Scientist at MIT Sloan School of Management. "With costs approaching $100B, the impact of IT bloatware on businesses is far larger than most realized. More software isn't always better, and CIOs realize it's time to break the doom cycle of bloatware to help employees and businesses succeed."

Frustrating Software Hurts Motivation and Performance

Almost unanimously, IT pros are not satisfied with their company software. Nearly 9 in 10 (89%) IT pros said they have frustrations with their company's software, with the leading reasons being: it slows down their work (35%), it lacks flexibility (33%) and it requires multiple programs to do their job effectively (30%), but more worryingly is bad software also hurts work performance and morale.

Notable findings include:

■ Contributes to the Great Resignation: One-third of IT workers (36%) say being forced to use outdated legacy software makes them want to quit their job.

■ Hurts mental health: 8 in 10 (82%) IT pros are burnt out and more than one-third (36%) say they are the most burnt out they've ever been in their career. They see bloated software as part of the problem, with 42% reporting that easier-to-use software would help reduce their burnout.

■ Better software can be part of the solution: IT professionals say that easier-to-use software (42%) and software that reduces workload (37%) would help reduce burnout.

IT Pros Will Give Up a Lot for Better Software

60% of IT pros say they hate using outdated legacy software that isn't easy to use. Many are so frustrated with the software that they are willing to give up benefits, including:

■ 44% are willing to give up more vacation days

■ 41% are willing to give up more parental leave

■ 33% are willing to give up more sick/wellness days

"Legacy SaaS providers may have had good intentions by offering more add-ons and features, but the era of complexity has backfired and is bogging down businesses' ability to deliver," said Prasad Ramakrishnan, CIO at Freshworks. "As we enter a slowdown in the economy, the C-suite is re-examining their tech stack to prioritize solutions that deliver maximum productivity, not complexity and burnout. This is what we build for, and it showcases that bloatware needs to go."

Freshworks recently released Part 1 of its State of Workplace Technology series titled, Workplace technology: The new battleground for the war on talent, productivity & reputation. It found that businesses globally face a potential workplace crisis due to inadequate technology — which damages employee productivity, mental health and the ability to retain talent — as an overwhelming 91% of employees report being frustrated due to inadequate workplace technology. Meanwhile, 71% of business leaders acknowledge that employees will consider looking for a new employer if their current job does not provide access to the tools, technology or information they need to do their jobs well.

Methodology: Freshworks conducted this research using an online survey prepared by Method Research and distributed by RepData among n=2,001 adults ages 18+ that work full time as IT professionals, with n=500 US, n=500 U.K., and n=100 in each of the following ten countries: Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Singapore, Australia/NZ, Malaysia, India, United Arab Emirates, and South Africa. The sample was balanced by gender, age, and company size, with an internationally representative geographic spread of respondents. Data was collected from March 18 to April 9, 2022.

Wasted time due to bloatware costs in the US was calculated by taking the median salary of computer and IT pros in the US ($91,250 per US BLS Data, May 2020) and calculating an hourly rate. Using the hourly rate, a per worker annual cost was found by multiplying it by the annual amount of hours in the US wasted dealing with bloatware (7 hours and 45 minutes * 50 work weeks). Then, by multiplying by the amount of US IT workers (4.6 million per Census' American Community Data, 2016), it gives a final value of $84.65B annual costs.

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