IT Trends 2018: The Intersection of Hype and Performance - Part 1
April 30, 2018

Leon Adato
SolarWinds

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According to Google, in the time it takes you to read this sentence, a website will lose 53% of its visitors if the page hasn't loaded. This confirms what most of us have known for a while: IT performance is more important than ever in today's digital economy. It's crucial to an organization's bottom line, as high bounce rates can result in lost money, while improved performance can save time and money.

Also well known is that emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and blockchain are disrupting the industry. With that said, while they may be top of mind for the c-suite, in many cases, IT professionals are focused on more urgent, basic performance problems. The SolarWinds IT Trends Report 2018: The Intersection of Hype and Performance investigates how IT professionals view the current state of technology and digital transformation.

Overall, the 2018 key findings show:

Hybrid IT and cloud computing will remain IT professionals' top priority for the next five years as these elements meet today's business needs while serving as the foundation for trends like machine learning and AI.

■ 94 percent of IT professionals surveyed indicate hybrid IT or cloud as one of the top five most important technologies in their IT organization's technology strategy today, with 51 percent listing it as their number one most important technology.

■ When ranking most important technologies today, and for digital transformation over the next three to five years, as well as technologies with the greatest potential to provide productivity/efficiency benefits and ROI, IT professionals ranked hybrid IT and cloud as number one across the board (by weighted rank).

At the same time, IT professionals are prioritizing internal investments in containers as a proven solution to the challenges of hybrid IT and cloud computing, and a key enabler of innovation.

■ 44 percent of respondents ranked containers as the most important technology priority today, and 38 percent of respondents ranked containers as the most important technology priority three to five years from now.

■ Concurrently, AI and ML investments are expected to increase in importance over the next three to five years – 37 percent of respondents indicate that AI is the biggest priority and 31 percent of respondents indicate that ML is the biggest priority three to five years from now (compared to 29 percent and 21 percent today, respectively).

The results of the IT Trends survey suggest a dissonance between the views of IT professionals and their senior managers on priorities for IT investment over the next three to five years.

■ On the weighted list of technologies IT professionals believe are needed for an IT organization's digital transformation over the next three to five years, AI did not make the top five. This contrasts with a recent CEO survey, which found that 81 percent of CEOs consider AI and machine learning to be a priority for their business, up from just 54 percent in 2016 (Fortune).

While IT professionals continue prioritizing hybrid IT and cloud computing, adoption of these technologies has made it challenging to optimize performance of their systems and applications.

■ 58 percent of IT professionals surveyed indicated that by weighted rank, hybrid IT/cloud presents the greatest challenges when it comes to implementation, roll-out, and day-to-day performance.

■ Nearly half (47 percent) of all IT professionals surveyed think that their IT environments are not operating at optimal levels.

■ Over half of all IT professionals surveyed spend less than 25 percent of their time proactively optimizing performance.

■ Nearly half of IT professionals spend 50 percent or more of their time reactively maintaining and troubleshooting their IT environment.

Many IT professionals cite a lack of organizational strategy and inadequate investment in areas such as user training as the most common barriers to system optimization.

■ Of IT professionals indicating their environments are not optimized, 43 percent ranked inadequate organizational strategy as one of the top three barriers to achieving optimization. To achieve true performance and work toward a successful digital transformation, IT professionals require deeper strategic collaboration with business leaders.

If IT professionals want to be instrumental to their organization's successful digital transformation journey, they should continue prioritizing a hybrid IT environment while simultaneously developing new skillsets and leveraging emerging technologies.

Start with: IT Trends 2018: The Intersection of Hype and Performance - Part 2, offering recommendations on how to manage the intersection of hype and performance.

Methodology: The 2018 IT Trends Report is based on a survey of IT practitioners, managers, and directors at public- and private-sector small, mid-size, and enterprise organizations, fielded in December 2017 by C White Consulting on behalf of SolarWinds. 803 respondents from North America, Australia, Germany, Hong Kong, Singapore, and the United Kingdom were surveyed, as reported on the SolarWinds IT Trends Index.

Leon Adato is a Head Geek at SolarWinds
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