New survey details IT challenges, shadow IT risks, 2021 outlook, and more

The report also illustrates a shift in the way workers perceive IT. Half of the respondent employees said they "had more empathy, had more respect or were more grateful for IT."

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Image: iStock/alphaspirit

On Thursday, Snow Software released its "2021 IT Priorities Report." The findings are based on a survey involving 1,000 leaders in IT and 3,000 workers located in the US, UK, Australia, and Germany. Overall, the report illustrates the top challenges facing IT teams, leaders' outlook, shifting perceptions of the industry, and more.

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"IT teams around the world had to contend with extraordinary challenges this year due to the impact of Covid-19," said Alastair Pooley, CIO at Snow, in a press release. "The complexities, risks and budget concerns IT departments traditionally face have been exacerbated, and a rapid acceleration of digital transformation and cloud adoption has brought new issues to the forefront."

A portion of the report focuses on IT spend and the top challenges tech  teams have faced in the last year. Cybersecurity topped the list for 43% of IT leaders with challenges associated with implementing new tech and supporting remote teams rounding out the top three. Executives noted increased spending on technologies including software, SaaS, cloud, and hardware in the last year. That said, six-in-10 respondents said that technology management "had become more difficult."

The report highlights sentiment regarding access to software and differing opinions among IT leaders and teams about technology procurement. While 41% of workers said that general access to technologies has improved, leaders may "overestimate" the ease at which teams are able to procure applications, cloud resources, and software, per the report. Among IT leaders and employees, the perceived ease at which these technologies can be procured differed by 22 points.

The authors of the report note that the discrepancy between the two could provide an "opening for shadow IT and a lack of comprehensive governance."

Varying perceptions aside, the two groups agree that security is the primary problem caused by technology that is unaccounted for and unmanaged. Although about one-in-six (16%) employees believe that unmanaged and unaccounted for technologies do not cause any problems for the business.

Dealing with outdated technology was the main frustration for 37% of employees followed by receiving support for telecommuting (33%). Resolving support tickets was the third most commonly reported frustration for employees. Interestingly, employee sentiment regarding IT employees has also changed in the last 12 months. Half of employees said they "had more empathy, had more respect or were more grateful for IT," although employees note IT challenges and frustrations. 

A company's level of technological maturity may have an impact on an IT leader's organizational outlook. For example, among IT leaders with "mature technology intelligence," 79% strongly agreed that their company was prepared to withstand ongoing global events, per the report. However, only one-third (32%) of other respondents reported the same sentiment.

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"As we collectively look ahead to 2021, it's more important than ever that CIOs and IT leaders strike the right balance between managing risk and remaining agile in the face of continued unpredictability," Pooley said. "It is clear from the data that a comprehensive understanding of technology resources and the ability [to] manage them is a key differentiator. IT leaders can use the insights to endure challenging periods like the pandemic, as well as embrace innovation to drive future growth and resilience."

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