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IT professionals day 2018: A world powered by tech pros

(Image credit: Image Credit: SFIO CRACHO / Shutterstock)

As our world grows increasingly complex, and digital transformation remains top of mind for businesses in every industry, technology professionals are working around the clock. Tech pros work tirelessly to solve any problem thrown their way, no matter the issue’s size—from helping an individual send a large file, to patching critical enterprise vulnerabilities, to solving latency issues beyond the firewall, or fixing application performance problems, technology professionals are often the unsung heroes of modern business.

While we certainly appreciate tech pros year-round, there is often a lack of understanding by business leaders and end users as to just how critical their responsibilities are, and the complexities associated with their day-to-day roles. The problem is, the job is never done. In fact, tech pros have so much on their plates that the 2018 SolarWinds IT Trends Report: The Intersection of Hype & Performance, launched earlier this year, found that over half of all tech pros surveyed spend less than 25 per cent of their time on proactive optimisation of their environments. But, what if that wasn’t the case?  

To celebrate IT Professionals Day 2018, SolarWinds commissioned its fourth annual survey to empower technology professionals with the freedom to think bigger than their day-to-day tasks. The IT Pro Day 2018: A World Powered by Tech Pros survey explores a “Tech PROactive” world where technology professionals have the time, resources, and ability to use their technology prowess to do absolutely anything—from improving their IT environments, to addressing global societal challenges, and even enhancing their personal lives (turns out, virtual reality can work magic at work and at home).

End users are the top priority

Every day, tech pros hand over their time to one-off user requests and help desk tickets. When surveyed, 70 per cent of UK tech pros said they frequently respond to these requests, and over half (51 per cent) respond to help desk tickets on a daily basis. Even IT professionals whose roles do not include directly working on tickets end up getting involved at some point. Finding a spare moment between holding down a busy helpdesk whilst juggling strategic priorities, can often be exhaustive.

Application of technology

When tech pros do find the time, they spend it researching new technologies that will benefit the end user, who remain tech pros’ number one priority, in addition to the organisation as a whole. On top of the endless support for existing issues, tech pros are always proactively looking to leverage the latest and greatest in technology to create better, more effective services. These new technologies, including AI and the blockchain, are receiving lots of industry attention but often fall at different levels of the priority pecking order for tech pros and the C-suite.

In fact, a recent SolarWinds report highlighted a dissonance between the views of tech pros and their senior managers on priorities for IT investment over the next three to five years. Enterprises see AI and ML (81 per cent) and process automation and robotics (82 per cent) as important C-suite directives toward operations strategy—higher than any priority other than cost reduction. On the other hand, when IT professionals weighed in on the technologies most needed for an organisation’s digital transformation over the next three to five years, AI didn’t even make the top five.

There will continue to be a great deal of excitement around ML and AI into the foreseeable future. As we saw with cloud, executives are eager to implement the technology, which promises the hyped benefits of disruptive innovation. They want to activate a new technology quickly without the experience to understanding current capabilities, technical complexities, or deployment challenges. The best course of action for IT professionals is to become educators: identify ways to discuss the basics and then the specific cost-benefit analysis of how the technology will benefit the business and what it means for service integration and service delivery.

In fact, the survey did show that AI, automation and the cloud were the top three technologies named by tech pros for solving the challenges they are still grappling with in their IT environments. These innovations can help solve certain challenges and transform their IT environments to uncover more actionable insights and make repetitive tasks more efficient, cost effective and accurate.

The doorway to social transformation

Time is money. What if an IT pro had an extra hour a day? That’s time they can dedicate to resolving another helpdesk query, negotiating a new contract with a supplier or investigating anomalies thrown up by reporting. But, that’s time not well spent. Instead, when surveyed, it was the proactive elements of the job that were top of the list for tech pros: developing a new skill set (41 per cent), spending time researching new technologies (21 per cent) and planning/strategizing future technology innovation in the IT environment (19 per cent).

Technology can be the doorway to transformation, not just in the office but all around us, one domino after the other. Smartphones are often touted as an example of how technology has altered the way we consume information and communicate. Technology will continue to streamline many areas of our lives and could help to, effect positive change across our society. Tech pros play a key role in this transformation, in fact, they drive the innovation behind it. Given the option, they would choose to focus on boosting technology to provide affordable education, housing, and healthcare for all and as well as working to create environmental and sustainability initiatives, for example the role of smart cities and clean energy.

In the housing market, technology has already improved customer experience through virtualisation - digitising its paper records and enabling effective asset management. The transition to digital applications, has enabled greater collaboration across the property industry, powering the sharing of accurate, up to date information about specific properties. This could highlight important updates concerning maintenance issues or alert buyers and agents when a property is on/off the market, saving time and money.

Powering their personal lives

In last year’s IT Professionals Day survey, “Little-Known IT Pro Facts,” it became clear that technology professionals are not only the backbone of our businesses, they’re also often the source of innovation in the home. In the same survey, tech pros outlined a few areas where technology could be used to enhance their personal lives. The areas where they felt technology could be of most use? Home DIY projects, personal finance management and travel planning. And the technologies which could affect the most change?

  1. Virtual reality (VR) could help visualise home DIY projects such as a kitchen remodel before implementing changes.
  2. Machine learning could help automate the pain of managing finances, making it easier to grow investments and diversify a portfolio.
  3. The use of cloud-based services to store and link travel data, and using IoT-based devices to generate real-time insights could help with planning travel itineraries on-the-go.

The 2018 survey shows this trend has continued, and envisions technology pros’ ambition to better the workplace, the world, and their personal lives through the use of technology. It just reinforces the importance of valuing our IT professionals and acknowledge the ways they make our day-to-day lives better.

Sascha Giese, Head Geek, SolarWinds (opens in new tab)
Image Credit: SFIO CRACHO / Shutterstock

Sascha Giese is a Head Geek™ at SolarWinds, based in the company’s Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) headquarters in Cork, Ireland.