The Expanding Borders of IT
September 20, 2016

Kong Yang
SolarWinds

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We're in a new era of business, one that's more global, interconnected and flexible than ever before thanks to technologies and trends such as cloud, SaaS and BYOD, to name a few. And I don't need to tell you how it's all made possible by IT. But what impact is this having on the role of the IT professional?

In short, as you may well know, the scope of the IT professional's role has evolved to expand beyond the confines of company-owned devices and on-premises technology. In essence, because work is now done everywhere, IT is now everywhere.

In fact, new surveys by SolarWinds demonstrate the mounting responsibility being placed on the modern IT professional. Overall, the results show how now more than ever, end users are connecting more devices to corporate networks (including personally-owned devices), relying on cloud-based applications and working outside of traditional offices. These trends all take direct control and governance out of the hands of IT departments, yet the surveys also found that the demands on IT professionals to support and ensure the performance of these technologies are just as high. The result is responsibility without authority.

With the second annual IT Professionals Day upon us (September 20, 2016/third Tuesday of every September), these survey results are particularly timely as they emphasize the need for greater appreciation towards you, the IT professionals of the world, and the critical role you play not only in modern business, but in the lives of nearly all technology end users.

With that in mind, let's take a deeper dive into the study, which consists of two surveys — the first focuses on end users' perspectives related to the evolving business technology landscape and IT professionals' role in it, while the second focuses on IT professionals' corresponding viewpoint. Here are the key findings:

More end users are connecting a diverse set of electronic devices, including those personally-owned, to corporate networks.

■ 47 percent of employed North American end users say they connect more devices, whether company- or personally-owned, to corporate networks than they did 10 years ago, at an average of three more per user.

■ 47 percent of end users say they connect more personally-owned devices to corporate networks than they did 10 years ago, at an average of two more per user.

■ 59 percent of end users say they connect a laptop/desktop computer to corporate networks, 46 percent a smartphone and 21 percent a tablet computer.

■ 25 percent of end users say they connect a less expected form of electronic device to corporate networks, such as Bluetooth speakers, streaming media players, wearable technology and eReaders.

The technology end users rely on is increasingly outside their employers' on-premises infrastructure, including cloud-based applications and work-related resources leveraged beyond the office.

■ 60 percent of IT professionals globally say their organizations permit/facilitate the use of cloud-based applications.

■ 71 percent estimate that end users at least occasionally use non-IT-sanctioned cloud-based applications.

■ 53 percent of end users say they leverage these cloud-based applications — both IT-facilitated and non-IT-sanctioned — while at work.

■ 49 percent of end users say they regularly use work-related applications outside the office, on either company-owned or personally-owned devices.

Despite the increase in end users' reliance on technology often outside the control and governance of their employers' IT professionals, they still hold them accountable for its performance.

■ 62 percent of IT professionals say the expectation to support end users' personally-owned devices connected to corporate networks is significantly greater than it was 10 years ago, while 56 percent of end users say they expect their employers' IT professionals to ensure the performance these devices.

■ 43 percent of IT professionals say end users expect the same time to resolution for issues with both personally- and company-owned owned devices and technology.

■ 87 percent of end users say they expect their employers' IT professionals to ensure the performance of cloud-based applications used at work, with 68 percent going so far to say it is their employers' IT professionals' fault if they do not perform as expected.

■ 64 percent of IT professionals say end users expect the same time to resolution for issues with both cloud-based applications and local applications (those managed directly by IT).

■ 62 percent of end users expect work-related applications used outside the office to perform at the same level and to receive the same level of support from their employers' IT professionals, while 83 percent of IT professionals say they at least occasionally provide such support.

In closing, businesses are now more than ever pushing the boundaries of traditional IT beyond the walls of their organizations. IT is truly everywhere, and as a result, you are increasingly expected to ensure always-on availability and optimize performance for any and all devices and applications, many of which you likely do not control. Every industry has felt the impact of increased reliance on technology, but none more than the IT industry itself.

So, on behalf of SolarWinds, thank you.

And if you're a business leader or other technology end user, I invite you to pause for a moment and demonstrate your own appreciation to the IT professionals you rely on day in and day out.

Kong Yang is a Head Geek at SolarWinds.

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