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IT Reality Check 2018: Progress on Implementing Emerging Technologies Stalls in Favor of Foundational Priorities

October 2, 2018 | HANOVER, MD | For media inquiries, please contact us at media@TEKsystems.com.

TEKsystems’ “Sneak Peek” Reveals Augmented Reality, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Blockchain Not Accelerating Through End of 2018: Budgets and Confidence Anticipated for 2018 Did Not Materialize.

TEKsystems®, provider of IT services that address the pressing strategy, implementation and talent needs for more than 80% of the Fortune 500, today released the results of its 2018 Forecast Reality Check. The survey is designed to measure the current impact of market conditions on IT initiatives, hiring, salaries and skill needs. These data are also comparable, where appropriate, to what was originally reported in TEKsystems’ 2018 Annual IT Forecast. As part of this year’s effort, IT leaders were also surveyed on their opinions on key areas for the remainder of the year.

The survey reflects the perceptions of nearly 250 IT leaders (CIOs, IT VPs, IT directors, IT managers) in industries including IT, healthcare, manufacturing and banking/finance, as well as more than a dozen other industries across the United States.

LOOKING FORWARD: Emerging Technologies Lag in Criticality While Key Skills Remain a Barrier

Organizations Not Leaning on Emerging Technology in 2018 to Drive Strategy:

Q: Which technology area(s) will be most critical for driving/enabling your company’s business strategy in the second half of 2018? [select top 3]

Percentage

Augmented reality/Virtual reality (AR/VR)

2%

Blockchain

5%

Machine learning

8%

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

13%

Internet of Things (IoT)

13%

Mobile applications

33%

DevOps

36%

Big data analytics

39%

Cloud computing

48%

Security

58%

TEKsystems’ Take: TEKsystems believes it is logical that a high percentage of respondents identified enabling technology (such as security, cloud and big data/analytics) as critical for driving business strategy for the remainder of 2018. These areas are also key to spurring digital transformation efforts. While artificial intelligence (AI), IoT and blockchain have the potential to transform how business is run, many of these business-driven initiatives centered around next-gen technologies are still in the planning or early phases of adoption. This clarifies that companies are still in the process of creating strong foundation for scale through three key pillars: cloud, data and security. As such, these technologies are not considered critical for driving business strategy for the second half of the year, or until enterprise IT can demonstrate that a secure, stable, scalable environment is in place to deliver these services. The relatively high percentage of organizations focusing on DevOps and cloud computing initiatives provides further clarity that IT organizations are taking transformative steps to meet the agility and velocity demands of their business partners.

Lack of Skills/Expertise a Significant Barrier to Successfully Executing on Key Technology Initiatives:

Q: What is the biggest barrier to successfully executing on key technology initiatives? [select only one]

Percentage

Rank

Having the right skills/expertise

19%

1

Supporting the business while executing/maintaining status quo and implementing new (bimodal)

12%

2

Budget approvals

12%

3

Outdated technology landscape (i.e., legacy applications, infrastructure, etc.)

10%

4

Controlling costs

9%

5

Project management and change management

8%

6

Security

7%

7

Having the right tools (e.g., technologies, methodologies and applications)

7%

8

Managing risk and security (i.e., InfoSec, regulatory compliance, etc.)

5%

9

Technology complexity/Identifying use cases

4%

10

TEKsystems’ Take: Having the right skills/competencies and working through resource management issues (e.g., budgets) are to be expected for those organizations with a consistent goal of maximizing technology’s impact. Enterprise IT must be agile and flexible enough to deliver on digital transformation goals focused on speed to market for critical consumer-facing applications. The most significant challenge facing IT organizations today is their ability to is to maintain legacy IT systems and services (technical debt) while still attempting to deliver next generation, scalable technology solutions.

Q: What are the expected business use cases or outcomes given the technology areas you consider most critical for driving business strategy through the end of 2018? [select all that apply]

Percentage

Rank

Improve customer services and support

50%

1

Reduce costs

45%

2

Increase customer satisfaction

40%

3

Improve security/mitigate risk

38%

4

Drive innovation

35%

5

Improve IT agility

34%

6

Improve data insight/visibility

31%

7

Increase employee productivity

29%

8

Create new products/services

24%

9

Unlock new revenue streams

23%

10

TEKsystems’ Take: Most of the expected business use cases and outcomes listed here are considered critical for driving business strategy in 2018. However, an interesting paradigm shows up here; core IT business functions like improving customer service, reducing costs, increasing customer satisfaction and strengthening security/risk management are actually inhibitors to business partners looking to drive release velocity and digital transformation efforts. IT teams are more likely to support traditional IT functions such as security, legacy platform management and maintenance activities. The shift to cloud enablement and DevOps/CICD programs is setting the foundation for increased agility, faster feature and function release, and an organization’s ability to scale. Newer technologies like AI, IoT and blockchain are most likely to be used to unlock new revenue streams or create new products and services once foundational platforms are in place.

THE YEAR IN REVIEW: Budget Growth and Confidence Originally Overstated

Expectations at the Beginning of 2018 Remain Largely Unfulfilled—IT Budgets and Salaries Flat or Declining for the Remainder of 2018:

Q: Which of the following best describes how your organization's current IT budget actually changed compared to the prior year? [select only one]

2018 Forecast (Expectations)

2018 Reality Check (Actual)

Increased

40%

40%

Stayed the same

44%

40%

Decreased

16%

20%

Q: How do you expect your overall enterprise IT staff's salaries to change in 2018? [select only one]

2018 Forecast Ranking

2018 Reality Check Ranking

Increased

58%

51%

Stayed the same

40%

47%

Decreased

2%

2%

TEKsystems’ Take: TEKsystems believes that despite an increase in the number of enterprise IT teams expecting budget cuts in 2018, organizations are not necessarily decreasing technology spending. It’s more likely that budget previously going to enterprise IT is now being earmarked for line-of-business (LOB) decision makers who now have budget for IT projects that incorporate emerging technologies into their operations. We also note that the percentage of those indicating that they expect budgets to increase in 2018 has not changed—another indication that technology budgets are stabilizing. Apart from specialized skill sets, IT salary expectations continue to remain stagnant, which can hinder an organization’s ability to attract talent.

Q: How confident are you in your IT department’s ability to satisfy and support each of the following in 2018? [select only one]

Core IT demands

Line of business demands

New initiatives

2018 Forecast

2018 Reality Check

2018 Forecast

2018 Reality Check

2018 Forecast

2018 Reality Check

Confident

76%

74%

72%

73%

59%

60%

Neutral

16%

18%

18%

16%

26%

22%

Unconfident

9%

8%

10%

11%

15%

18%

TEKsystems’ Take: TEKsystems notes that, generally speaking, levels of confidence for core IT and line-of-business demands remain steady, one to two percent shifts notwithstanding. Enterprise IT seems to have settled into a pattern of focusing on actionable items regarding established technology that supports ongoing digital transformation efforts. As the business works through the desired goals and outcomes regarding newer, emerging technology and its impact, enterprise IT will shift to developing, refining and implementing those technology solutions while at the same time continuing to manage legacy platforms and services. Interestingly, when it comes to new initiatives, there is a three percent increase in those indicating a lack of confidence in enterprise IT’s ability to satisfy and support those initiatives. This is perhaps further proof of the challenges facing IT as it juggles the management of business-driven initiatives focused on digital transformation efforts, legacy systems and the always-present need for high levels of enterprise security.

SUMMARY: This study clearly shows that IT departments are in a constant, internal struggle to balance the business needs of velocity and agility against traditional IT goals of security and operational sustainability. From a budget and resource skill set perspective, they are struggling to meet both of these core objectives simultaneously. The high demand/low capacity market for advanced skills across Cloud, DevOps, CICD, Big Data, Analytics, etc. is exacerbating this issue. While security remains supreme, the overarching focus on automation is promoting new concepts like Security-as-Code and DevSecOps, and IT organizations are beginning to adopt automation models that are more in line with cloud computing and code based solutions to meet business velocity demand.

We’ve also observed that organizations have latched on to two core constructs; Agile ways of working and automation. Many early adopters of these significant organizational changes have had mixed results at best. While cloud computing and DevOps have become key drivers to bridge the chasm between business and IT goals, the evolution of both concepts is still ongoing and will be for the foreseeable future. Similar phenomena, such as “Agile to Nowhere” and “Automation without Purpose,” are prevalent in many enterprise development and IT groups, which presents additional conflict between IT and business executives as predicted ROI is not being realized.

With regard to emerging technologies like IoT, Machine Learning (MI) and Artificial Intelligence (AI), enterprise businesses are quickly realizing that data is king in predicting trends, understanding customer behaviors and ultimately driving new revenue opportunities. In most large organizations, data is distributed, unaligned and not being leveraged in a manner conducive to driving measurable value to the business. While business sponsors understand the value consolidated, actionable data can provide, IT and security groups must remain overly cautious and pragmatic about centralizing and providing access to data repositories and information. As the research shows, this is likely a core reason these topics still have relatively low sponsorship across IT organizations today.

TEKsystems believes that enterprise IT must do a better job demonstrating value to the business for next gen programs and projects. Security, sustainability and supportability are not mutually exclusive to enabling faster software releases for critical consumer facing applications. Significant upfront planning can save countless man hours on the backend of automation and data based solutions, especially in this limited talent, high demand environment.

“From our vantage point, a significant number of organizations suffer from a lack of communication and collaboration between core IT and business/product teams,” said Brandon Carroll, Director, Transformation, DevOps & Cloud Services at TEKsystems. “This fact is driving poor stakeholder buy in - and ultimately standing in the way of adopting new platforms. Maintaining legacy systems and underlying technical debt are also major hindrances to advancing next gen products and services for most large organizations. We frequently witness preventable mistakes made such as Automation without Purpose, leading to limited adoption and extensive re-work once critical business requirements are defined. The inherent conflict around increased velocity has also resulted in a new rush of ‘shadow IT deployments’ which do not follow internal security policies and procedures, potentially opening up organizations to very costly data breaches.”

To schedule an interview, please contact Nathan Bowen at nabowen@TEKsystems.com.

About TEKsystems®

We’re partners in transformation. We help clients activate ideas and solutions to take advantage of a new world of opportunity. We are a team of 80,000 strong, working with over 6,000 clients, including 80% of the Fortune 500, across North America, Europe and Asia. As an industry leader in Full-Stack Technology Services, Talent Services and real-world application, we work with progressive leaders to drive change. That’s the power of true partnership. TEKsystems is an Allegis Group company.