TEKsystems released the results of its 2018 Forecast Reality Check, measuring the current impact of market conditions on IT initiatives, hiring, salaries and skill needs. Here are some key results:
Technologies Critical to Driving Strategy
Q: Which top 3 technology areas will be most critical for driving/enabling your company’s business strategy in the second half of 2018?
48% Cloud computing
39% Big data analytics
33% Mobile applications
13% Internet of Things (IoT)
13% Artificial Intelligence (AI)
08% Machine learning
02% Augmented reality/Virtual reality (AR/VR)
TEKsystems Take: TEKsystems believes it is logical that a high percentage of respondents identified enabling technology (such as security, cloud and big data/analytics) as critical for driving business strategy for the remainder of 2018. These areas are also key to spurring digital transformation efforts.
While artificial intelligence (AI), IoT and blockchain have the potential to transform how business is run, many of these business-driven initiatives centered around next-gen technologies are still in the planning or early phases of adoption. This clarifies that companies are still in the process of creating strong foundation for scale through three key pillars: cloud, data and security. As such, these technologies are not considered critical for driving business strategy for the second half of the year, or until enterprise IT can demonstrate that a secure, stable, scalable environment is in place to deliver these services.
The relatively high percentage of organizations focusing on DevOps and cloud computing initiatives provides further clarity that IT organizations are taking transformative steps to meet the agility and velocity demands of their business partners.
Barriers to Accomplish key technology initiatives
Q: What is the biggest barrier to successfully executing on key technology initiatives?
19% Having the right skills/expertise
12% Supporting the business while executing/maintaining status quo and implementing new (bimodal)
12% Budget approvals
10% Outdated technology landscape (i.e., legacy applications, infrastructure, etc.)
09% Controlling costs
08% Project management and change management
07% Having the right tools (e.g., technologies, methodologies and applications)
05% Managing risk and security (i.e., InfoSec, regulatory compliance, etc.)
04% Technology complexity/Identifying use cases
TEKsystems Take: Having the right skills/competencies and working through resource management issues (e.g., budgets) are to be expected for those organizations with a consistent goal of maximizing technology’s impact. Enterprise IT must be agile and flexible enough to deliver on digital transformation goals focused on speed to market for critical consumer-facing applications.
The most significant challenge facing IT organizations today is their ability to is to maintain legacy IT systems and services (technical debt) while still attempting to deliver next generation, scalable technology solutions.
Q: What are the expected business use cases or outcomes given the technology areas you consider most critical for driving business strategy through the end of 2018?
50% Improve customer services and support
45% Reduce costs
40% Increase customer satisfaction
38% Improve security/mitigate risk
35% Drive innovation
34% Improve IT agility
31% Improve data insight/visibility
29% Increase employee productivity
24% Create new products/services
23% Unlock new revenue streams
15% Enhance employee training and development
TEKsystems Take: Most of the expected business use cases and outcomes listed here are considered critical for driving business strategy in 2018. However, an interesting paradigm shows up here; core IT business functions like improving customer service, reducing costs, increasing customer satisfaction and strengthening security/risk management are actually inhibitors to business partners looking to drive release velocity and digital transformation efforts. IT teams are more likely to support traditional IT functions such as security, legacy platform management and maintenance activities.
The shift to cloud enablement and DevOps/CICD programs is setting the foundation for increased agility, faster feature and function release, and an organization’s ability to scale. Newer technologies like AI, IoT and blockchain are most likely to be used to unlock new revenue streams or create new products and services once foundational platforms are in place.
Confidence to meet demand
Q: How confident are you in your IT department’s ability to satisfy and support each of the following in 2018?
TEKsystems Take: TEKsystems notes that, generally speaking, levels of confidence for core IT and line-of-business demands remain steady, one to two percent shifts notwithstanding. Enterprise IT seems to have settled into a pattern of focusing on actionable items regarding established technology that supports ongoing digital transformation efforts. As the business works through the desired goals and outcomes regarding newer, emerging technology and its impact, enterprise IT will shift to developing, refining and implementing those technology solutions while at the same time continuing to manage legacy platforms and services.
Interestingly, when it comes to new initiatives, there is a three percent increase in those indicating a lack of confidence in enterprise IT’s ability to satisfy and support those initiatives. This is perhaps further proof of the challenges facing IT as it juggles the management of business-driven initiatives focused on digital transformation efforts, legacy systems and the always-present need for high levels of enterprise security.
This study clearly shows that IT departments are in a constant, internal struggle to balance the business needs of velocity and agility against traditional IT goals of security and operational sustainability. From a budget and resource skill set perspective, they are struggling to meet both of these core objectives simultaneously. The high demand/low capacity market for advanced skills across Cloud, DevOps, CICD, Big Data, Analytics, etc. is exacerbating this issue. While security remains supreme, the overarching focus on automation is promoting new concepts like Security-as-Code and DevSecOps, and IT organizations are beginning to adopt automation models that are more in line with cloud computing and code based solutions to meet business velocity demand.
TEKsystems also observed that organizations have latched on to two core constructs; Agile ways of working and automation. Many early adopters of these significant organizational changes have had mixed results at best. While cloud computing and DevOps have become key drivers to bridge the chasm between business and IT goals, the evolution of both concepts is still ongoing and will be for the foreseeable future. Similar phenomena, such as “Agile to Nowhere” and “Automation without Purpose,” are prevalent in many enterprise development and IT groups, which presents additional conflict between IT and business executives as predicted ROI is not being realized.
With regard to emerging technologies like IoT, Machine Learning (MI) and Artificial Intelligence (AI), enterprise businesses are quickly realizing that data is king in predicting trends, understanding customer behaviors and ultimately driving new revenue opportunities. In most large organizations, data is distributed, unaligned and not being leveraged in a manner conducive to driving measurable value to the business. While business sponsors understand the value consolidated, actionable data can provide, IT and security groups must remain overly cautious and pragmatic about centralizing and providing access to data repositories and information. As the research shows, this is likely a core reason these topics still have relatively low sponsorship across IT organizations today.
TEKsystems believes that enterprise IT must do a better job demonstrating value to the business for next gen programs and projects. Security, sustainability and supportability are not mutually exclusive to enabling faster software releases for critical consumer facing applications. Significant upfront planning can save countless man hours on the backend of automation and data based solutions, especially in this limited talent, high demand environment.
“From our vantage point, a significant number of organizations suffer from a lack of communication and collaboration between core IT and business/product teams,” said Brandon Carroll, Director, Transformation, DevOps & Cloud Services at TEKsystems. “This fact is driving poor stakeholder buy in - and ultimately standing in the way of adopting new platforms. Maintaining legacy systems and underlying technical debt are also major hindrances to advancing next gen products and services for most large organizations. We frequently witness preventable mistakes made such as Automation without Purpose, leading to limited adoption and extensive re-work once critical business requirements are defined. The inherent conflict around increased velocity has also resulted in a new rush of ‘shadow IT deployments’ which do not follow internal security policies and procedures, potentially opening up organizations to very costly data breaches.”
About the Survey: The TEKsystems 2018 Forecast Reality Check2018 Annual IT Forecast. As part of this year’s effort, IT leaders were also surveyed on their opinions on key areas for the remainder of the year. The survey reflects the perceptions of nearly 250 IT leaders (CIOs, IT VPs, IT directors, IT managers) in industries including IT, healthcare, manufacturing and banking/finance, as well as more than a dozen other industries across the United States.