Business Decisions: The Evolving Role of the Modern IT Professional
January 27, 2014

Suaad Sait
SolarWinds

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Increasing infrastructure complexity has affected the role of nearly all IT professionals, creating the need for new skillsets, including the ability to help companies make informed, strategic business decisions, according to the SolarWinds New IT Survey, which sheds light on the evolving role of the modern IT professional in today’s technology-driven business environment.

While most IT professionals are at least some degree confident in their ability to provide such advice, more preparation is needed to feel completely confident.

The days of IT's limited impact on business are long gone, replaced by the modern era of almost complete reliance on technology and the incredibly complex infrastructure it brings with it. Something as simple as an incorrect server configuration can lead to loss of access to cloud-based applications and data, email server outages and ecommerce site shutdowns.

These and other IT issues can have tremendous negative impact on productivity and revenue generation. As a result, more businesses are starting to recognize that behind their success are teams of IT heroes that need to be involved in business-level decisions. Likewise, IT professionals need to be prepared to take on this new role.

Survey Findings:

Technology's rise in importance as a core business component may have only been outpaced by the complexity it created. This increasing infrastructure complexity has affected the role of nearly all IT professionals.

- Over half of all IT departments now manage virtualization, mobility, compliance, data analytics, SDN/virtual networks, BYOx, cloud computing and self-service automation

- 52% of respondents said increasing complexity has greatly affected their responsibilities over the past 3-5 years, and an additional 42% said it has somewhat affected their role

Foremost among the results of this evolution, modern IT professionals are now expected and must be prepared to help their companies make informed, strategic business decisions with regard to emerging technologies.

- 99% of respondents said they are given the opportunity to at least occasionally provide guidance and expertise necessary to help their companies make such decisions

- While 95% of survey-takers said they feel at least somewhat confident in their ability to provide such advice, only one-third of those are completely confident doing so

- To feel more empowered to provide such advice, slightly more than half of respondents said they need more training in their area(s) of responsibility, and nearly 40% said they need a better understanding of their companies’ overall business

In addition, this evolution of IT and the increasing infrastructure complexity behind it have also resulted in the need for new technology and IT skillsets to effectively manage networks and systems.

- More than 50% of those surveyed said information security and cloud computing top the list of IT skillsets that will grow in demand over the next 3-5 years, followed by virtualization

- Respondents said information security is the IT role that will need to adapt the most to evolving technology over the next 3-5 years

- Cloud computing ranked as the most important technology for businesses to invest in today to remain competitive for the next 3-5 years, followed closely by mobility, virtualization (server or desktop), data analytics and BYOx, respectively

The survey was conducted from November 12-18, 2013, resulting in 298 survey responses from IT practitioners, managers and directors in the US and Canada from public- and private-sector small, mid-size and enterprise companies.

Suaad Sait is EVP Products and Markets at SolarWinds.

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