Hybrid Work Is Here to Stay, Bringing Its Own Mix of Complexities for IT
September 22, 2021

Alastair Pooley
Snow Software

Share this

2020 heralded the era of remote working, with companies empowering their employees to work in their homes. Cloud usage skyrocketed, and as Microsoft's CEO said, "We've seen two years' worth of digital transformation in two months."

The world's appetite for cloud services has increased but now, more than 18 months since the beginning of the pandemic, organizations are assessing their cloud spend and trying to better understand the IT investments that were made under pressure. This is a huge challenge in and of itself, with the added complexity of embracing hybrid work.

A recent survey from Snow Software polled 400 IT leaders to determine the current state of hybrid work and technologies and found that more than 92% were moving or had already moved to a hybrid work mode. This statistic isn't surprising as many companies — most recently LinkedIn and Amazon — have pushed back their return to office dates due to the Delta variant or adopted a permanent hybrid work approach rather than a full return to office.

While most IT leaders have moved or are already moving to hybrid work, only 34% indicated that the shift to hybrid work is the IT team's primary focus for the next 12 months. Most leaders noted that reducing/optimizing IT costs (55%) and enabling competitive differentiation through IT initiatives (57%) are their main priorities.

This begs the question — if hybrid work is top of mind for organizations, why is it not a top focus for IT leaders?

Hybrid vs Remote Work: the Difference is Complexity

Firstly, it is important to recognize that remote and hybrid work bring their own set of complexities. While they have similarities — both bringing the challenges of managing application sprawl, shadow IT and managing costs — they are not the same.

Hybrid work involves managing requirements for both a remote and a physical environment. A hybrid work model must adjust to the ebb and flow of employees who may pivot back and forth, creating a similar technology experience regardless of location. Troubleshooting network constraints at company headquarters while also solving connectivity issues for an employee at home are the reality of hybrid work. For remote-only work, the variables stay largely the same.

Every organization has its own unique needs, and as we saw in the survey, many IT leaders are still dealing with some lingering effects of 2020 decisions. But hybrid is an increasing priority, and the majority of IT leaders are optimistic about the future of hybrid work, with 57% saying they were excited and 44% indicating it was a move in the right direction.

SaaS Sprawl is (and Will Likely Remain) Concerning

According to the survey undertaken by Snow, IT leaders believe the most challenging aspects of supporting or transitioning to hybrid work are controlling costs (18%) and reining in unseen application use (16%). Most organizations surveyed are running hundreds or thousands of SaaS applications across their network, and 73% of IT leaders indicated that this is an increase over the last 12 months. With SaaS continuing to gain importance, it's no wonder that one of the biggest challenges for SaaS is controlling sprawl. Discovering unmanaged SaaS applications remains a priority and will likely be a priority for many years to come.

When asked, IT leaders named Microsoft 365, Google Workspace and Zoom as the core applications used by their organizations. Video conferencing was ranked as the top type of tool organizations relied on the most in the last year (32%), confirming Zoom's place among the core applications. Other tools organizations relied on included:

■ Cloud infrastructure (i.e. Microsoft Azure, AWS, Google Cloud, etc.) (23%)

■ Office suites (i.e. Office365, Gsuite, Dropbox Paper, etc.) (11%)

■ Specialty software (i.e. Salesforce, Adobe, etc.) (11%)

Surprisingly, collaboration applications (i.e. Slack, Teams, Dropbox, etc.) were on the lower end of tools heavily relied on in the past year (9%). Considering the top three most-used applications include many of the features of collaboration applications (such as chat, file sharing, etc.), collaboration-focused applications may have ranked lower because their function was already covered by the leading tools.

2021 IT Spending Will Increase

With increased complexity comes increased costs. More than 83% of IT leaders expect additional funds to support and implement new ways of working, while 13% said they expected their budget to stay flat and just 2% said they would face budget cuts. If given an additional budget today to support new ways of working, the majority of IT leaders (37%) believe it should be invested in IT staff while other leaders believed that budget should be spent on:

■ SaaS applications (18%)

■ Cloud infrastructure (i.e. public, private, virtual machines, etc.) (17%)

■ Cybersecurity tools and training (10%)

Hybrid work models will put more pressure on IT, with IT leaders (34%) expecting that hybrid work will increase employee access and consumption of IT resources — and only 10% think hybrid work will decrease the employee use of IT resources. Additionally, 18% of IT leaders believe that hybrid work will increase department-led technology purchases, which can contribute to shadow IT if the right policies, processes and staff are not in place.

While SaaS spending increased in 2020, according to IT leaders surveyed, this is only the beginning of more significant spending increases we will see as hybrid work becomes the norm. As we continue to navigate the pandemic and embrace the hybrid work model, organizations will need to think more critically about how they can support this new reality. For example, in this new era of hybrid work, vendors like Microsoft are developing solutions for organizations to offer greater flexibility to the hybrid workforce. It is now essential that organizations take the time to review and assess their IT spending and resources to ensure their companies and employees are well equipped to adopt a hybrid work environment.

Alastair Pooley is CIO of Snow Software
Share this

The Latest

October 21, 2021

Scaling DevOps and SRE practices is critical to accelerating the release of high-quality digital services. However, siloed teams, manual approaches, and increasingly complex tooling slow innovation and make teams more reactive than proactive, impeding their ability to drive value for the business, according to a new report from Dynatrace, Deep Cloud Observability and Advanced AIOps are Key to Scaling DevOps Practices ...

October 20, 2021

Over three quarters (79%) of database professionals are now using either a paid-for or in-house monitoring tool, according to a new survey from Redgate Software ...

October 19, 2021

Gartner announced the top strategic technology trends that organizations need to explore in 2022. With CEOs and Boards striving to find growth through direct digital connections with customers, CIOs' priorities must reflect the same business imperatives, which run through each of Gartner's top strategic tech trends for 2022 ...

October 18, 2021

Distributed tracing has been growing in popularity as a primary tool for investigating performance issues in microservices systems. Our recent DevOps Pulse survey shows a 38% increase year-over-year in organizations' tracing use. Furthermore, 64% of those respondents who are not yet using tracing indicated plans to adopt it in the next two years ...

October 14, 2021

Businesses are embracing artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to improve network performance and security, according to a new State of AIOps Study, conducted by ZK Research and Masergy ...

October 13, 2021

What may have appeared to be a stopgap solution in the spring of 2020 is now clearly our new workplace reality: It's impossible to walk back so many of the developments in workflow we've seen since then. The question is no longer when we'll all get back to the office, but how the companies that are lagging in their technological ability to facilitate remote work can catch up ...

October 12, 2021

The pandemic accelerated organizations' journey to the cloud to enable agile, on-demand, flexible access to resources, helping them align with a digital business's dynamic needs. We heard from many of our customers at the start of lockdown last year, saying they had to shift to a remote work environment, seemingly overnight, and this effort was heavily cloud-reliant. However, blindly forging ahead can backfire ...

October 07, 2021

SmartBear recently released the results of its 2021 State of Software Quality | Testing survey. I doubt you'll be surprised to hear that a "lack of time" was reported as the number one challenge to doing more testing, especially as release frequencies continue to increase. However, it was disheartening to see that a lack of time was also the number one response when we asked people to identify the biggest blocker to professional development ...

October 06, 2021

The role of the CIO is evolving with an increased focus on unlocking customer connections through service innovation, according to the 2021 Global CIO Survey. The study reveals the shift in the role of the CIO with the majority of CIO respondents stating innovation, operational efficiency, and customer experience as their top priorities ...

October 05, 2021

The perception of IT support has dramatically improved thanks to the successful response of service desks to the pandemic, lockdowns and working from home, according to new research from the Service Desk Institute (SDI), sponsored by Sunrise Software ...