IT Pros to Acquire New Skillsets and Improve Business Insight in Today's Complex Environment
March 07, 2014

Patrick Hubbard
SolarWinds

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To remain relevant to business' overall goals, today's IT professionals must adopt new skillsets and be prepared to help their companies make informed, strategic business decisions, according to the New IT Survey conducted by SolarWinds.

The New IT Survey found that despite the increased sophistication and complexity of corporate technology, Australian businesses still do not consider IT as a vital role in the critical business decision-making process – while almost every IT professional surveyed (99 percent) said they are given the opportunity to provide the guidance and expertise necessary to help their company make critical business decisions, the majority (70%) only have the opportunity to do so occasionally or rarely.

Furthermore, 96% of respondents said they feel at least somewhat confident in their ability to provide such advice – with nearly half (44%) of those feeling completely confident in doing so – suggesting that businesses are underutilizing the IT department, only seeking their guidance when ‘disaster strikes’.

In addition, the survey revealed the technology and IT skillsets IT professionals must invest in today to effectively manage networks and systems, while still remaining relevant to the overall business. In particular, cloud computing was identified as the top IT skillset that will grow in demand over the next three to five years, followed by information security and business analytics.

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.

As a result, more businesses are now recognizing that IT holds an important key to success. Likewise, IT professionals can no longer operate within the bounds of their traditional role. Instead, IT professionals and businesses alike must create opportunities for IT to take on a leadership position within strategic business initiatives, rather than just seeking IT's counsel on a reactive basis.

Fielded in November 2013, the survey yielded responses from 109 IT practitioners, managers and directors in Australia from public and private sector small, mid-size and enterprise companies.

Survey Findings

IT's role in strategic business decisions:

- 99% of respondents said they are given the opportunity to provide the guidance and expertise necessary to help their company make informed, strategic business decisions in this area; however, the majority (70%) only have the opportunity to do so occasionally or rarely

- 96% of survey-takers said they feel at least somewhat confident in their ability to provide such advice, with 44% of those reporting that they are completely confident in doing so

- To feel more empowered to provide such advice, almost half of respondents said they need more training in their area(s) of responsibility, and nearly 44% said they need a better understanding of their company’s overall business

Demand for new skillsets:

- More than 50% of those surveyed said cloud computing and information security top the list of IT skillsets that will grow in demand over the next three to five years, followed by business analytics

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

- Cloud computing ranked as the most important technology for businesses to invest in today to remain competitive for the next three to five years, followed closely by mobility, data analytics, virtualisation (server or desktop), self-service automation and BYOx, respectively

Other findings:

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

- 47% of respondents said increasing complexity has greatly affected their responsibilities over the past three to five years, and an additional 42% said it has somewhat affected their role

About the survey: The survey was conducted from November 12-18, 2013, resulting in 109 survey responses from IT practitioners, managers and directors in Australian small, mid-size and enterprise companies. SolarWinds will be releasing additional survey data in the coming weeks on IT professionals in the UK, US, Germany and Brazil.

Patrick Hubbard is a Head Geek and Technical Product Marketing Manager at SolarWinds.

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