Spiceworks, a professional online community for the IT industry, publishes statistics, trends, and opinions annually. Study participants include approximately 900 buyers of IT-related products and services. This year’s research provides an analysis of available resources, technology adoption, and project trends. In the “Spiceworks 2017 State of IT” report, forecasts remain on par with the 2016 report—with a few key differences.
Overall, 2017 IT challenges reflect our uncertain economy, with budgets and staffing holding steady.
Expect Consistency in Several IT Areas
As reported in 2016, many organizations remain unwilling to invest in new solutions if legacy solutions still work—it’s the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality. This year’s research shows that IT professionals will continue to invest in IT products based on technology end-of-life and current needs.
Although around 60% of respondents expect to see revenue increases, few plan to increase their annual IT budgets. Annual budgets remain flat, which will call for creativity from IT leaders who hope to both create business agility and meet revenue change expectations.
Similarly, businesses will not invest in significant human capital increases. In a time when IT professionals shoulder more responsibility than ever, a lack of staffing growth may increase professional burnout. Staffing stagnation adds pressure to teams charged with doing more with less.
Follow the Money
“It has to be about showing ROI to the business. I don’t think of it as an IT problem — it’s not. It’s a business decision, and investment needs to be justified to solve a problem the business is facing.” – Brian Wing, IT Director.
In 2017, the breakdown of how IT departments spend their budgets will change slightly from 2016 expectations. Top priorities include virtualization and productivity.
- Around 38% of respondents see cloud services as a top spending category, compared to 29% in 2016. The technology is more accessible, secure, and popular among businesses than ever before.
- Compared with 2016 allocations, hardware, software, and managed service project spending will decrease slightly in 2017 while cloud-based projects will rise.
- Spending on desktops, servers, networking, external storage, and printers is expected to fall in 2017. Respondents expect laptop spending to remain flat, and expect to increase spending on security appliances.
- While overall spending on software will remain the same or decline in 2017, businesses that do invest in software will spend the majority of their budget on virtualization, productivity, and OS updates. CRM/ERP, database, and security software expenditures will hold steady, while backup and disaster recover investments will decline slightly.
- Top managed service spending categories for 2017 include IT services, consulting, storage, and hosting. While IT service spending retains the top place for investments, it represents a slight decrease over 2016 investment expectations.
“I load up on as many managed services as possible. Managed AV, Office 365, Meraki, and managed backup streamline workflows. As far as hardware: spare PSUs for servers and workstations and spare drives. Flash drives, SSDs for upgrades, extra RAM, a drive duplicator/cloner.” -Alex Bubunenko, Network/Systems Admin
- Email hosting leads the way for cloud and hosted service investments. Online backup and recovery will take the place of software-based solutions and increase slightly in 2017, while web hosting, productivity, and application hosting solutions are projected to fall from 2016 investments.
While many businesses will invest in cloud services and other technology needs, many may continue to push routine upgrades onto the backburner. According to the data, just over half of businesses participating in the Spiceworks survey still use Office 2007, 10% of businesses still use Vista, and 56% still use Windows XP. Using older and obsolete technologies notes the extreme IT lag some departments are fighting. The prevalence of outdated technology in business creates challenges for new product implementations, performance, and security vulnerabilities.
Recognize Data Privacy Concerns
Security continues to earn a top place in IT initiatives. Security outranks networking, storage, virtualization and other important operational initiatives, and this year, data privacy drives many security activities. Shadow IT continues to pose challenges. In fact, a Spiceworks’ poll notes that more than 3/4 of IT professionals experience some level of shadow IT in the workplace.
When companies do not increase IT resources and continue to use slow and outdated technology in the workplace, many professionals feel the need to go outside of the organization to streamline their own workflows. Ultimately, older technology and internal rule-breaking increases security risks and creates data privacy challenges.
Prepare for the Future of IT
In 2017, IT trends highlight the importance of mobility, advanced security, and IT automation for current and future adoption plans. Spiceworks reports that, from January to August 2016, conversations frequently mentioned 3D printers, the Internet of Things (IoT), and artificial intelligence—suggesting their eventual adoption.
Many IT professionals recognize areas of slow adoption, budget constraints, and flat staffing expectations, and create strategies to work within economic realities. The increase in cloud-based service adoption in 2017 directly correlates to the increased expectation of mobility, security, and automation. Choosing a cloud or managed hosting vendor who can meet expectations for performance and security remains crucial for IT professionals in 2017. Use the insights from this year’s research to optimize your business’s expenditures, manage risk, and build a competitive edge.
Download the full “Spiceworks 2017 State of IT” report.