IT Pro Day – Time to get a glimpse into the mind of the IT professional

Today marks international IT Pro Day, a day to celebrate all IT professionals regardless of discipline, by emphasising the crucial work that they perform in every business. This year, in light of IT Pro Day, SolarWinds has released the findings of its Little-Known Facts survey.

Other than pointing out the obvious—without IT professionals, we would all be doomed—the survey sheds light on the little-known mysteries of their work. Though you may not discover what IT professionals eat for breakfast, you’ll learn their position on artificial intelligence (AI), and who is most guilty of taking up all of their time. At a time of increasing automation, this perspective is even more interesting.

Blossoming human-robot friendships

To pursue a career working within IT, a passion for technology is (usually) considered a prerequisite—at least to begin with, anyway. But is taking that up a notch and replacing family and friends with intelligent IT monitoring systems surely a step too far?

It was surprising to find that over a quarter of U.K. IT professionals surveyed claim that in any given week, they spend more time communicating with their monitoring systems than they do their closest loved ones. Now I appreciate that it’s always good to make an effort with work friends, but surely that doesn’t apply to the non-human ones. Hopefully an emerging motto amongst IT professionals is not “keep your friends close, your enemies even closer.”

On the other hand, only 14% of those surveyed fear that AI will develop to one day take their jobs outright. While this may be due to IT professionals having confidence in their roles being far too complex for robots to perform, IT pros’ friendship with machines is sufficiently collaborative that they can’t possibly imagine being betrayed by them. 

Educating the masses

It may come as a surprise, but IT professionals claim to only spend, on average, 61% of their time actually managing IT and IT-related services. The rest of this time isn’t spent watching reruns of the “The Big Bang Theory®,” at least not according to the survey results. Rather, it is largely dedicated to bringing everyone else up to speed on the technology they work with.

Twenty percent of an IT professional’s time is dedicated to educating business leaders and end-users on IT. This is a lot of time to be dedicating to a duty that isn’t necessarily within the work remit of an IT professional, and just goes to show the dependence that their colleagues have upon them to go about their own roles. This will become increasingly evident as new technologies are introduced to the workplace, and as digitalisation continues to reshape the traditional structures of organisations. 

Now, you might have thought that devoting all this extra time to improving everyone’s IT skills would result in organisations becoming fully armed with tech-savvy employees, right? Not really. Almost a fifth of respondents stated that when end-users attempt to fix their own IT issues, over half the time they will end up worsening the problem. Kudos for trying, but sometimes it’s best to leave things to the professionals, and ask for help. 

I’m sure you are wondering, which personnel are most guilty of consuming IT professionals precious time? C-suite members, hang your heads in shame. Forty-eight percent of IT professionals surveyed claimed that senior executives/chief officers are within the top three personnel who create the most IT issues. Now this may be because those in the C-suite are slight technophobes, or it could possibly be that they are simply committed to seeing a clear ROI on their IT professionals. For the sake of one’s IT career, I’d lean towards the latter.

Overtime all the time

I think it’s safe to say that IT professionals generally go above and beyond to meet the growing demands they face on a daily basis. There are no surprises that the survey results support this: 91% of survey participants work overtime hours, and, of those, 64% do so with no compensation. These statistics evidence the “always-on” mentality that IT professionals have adopted as they perform tasks outside of their core IT responsibilities.

That being said, 91% of IT professionals surveyed truly enjoy the role, and over half love what they do. In fact, not a single respondent said they hated their job.  How many professionals can say that? In return for their commitment and enthusiasm, business can well benefit by making an effort to better understand IT professionals and appreciate all that they do.

Patrick Hubbard is Head Geek™, SolarWinds