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Firms face remote working challenges as IT teams express concern about infrastructure

Post-lockdown survey finds UK-based IT leaders lack confidence in their organisation’s plan to withstand an unanticipated crisis as Covid-19 dramatically accelerates cloud adoption

A global study from LogicMonitor into how IT departments have fared in the first half of 2020 revealed that while firms have mostly coped with a working environment shaped by Covid-19, there are worries about how IT teams will continue to support the new normal which will bring increased disruption.

The infrastructure monitoring company surveyed 500 IT decision-makers across a variety of roles and geographic regions, including the UK, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The goal of the research, which was carried out in May and June 2020, was to understand how IT departments evolve over time and to ascertain their views on IT automation, cloud migration and business continuity in the face of unexpected crises.

While the fielding of this survey took place during the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic – a time when most organisations were forced to transition to a remote workforce model as access to offices and facilities was severely limited – LogicMonitor said the trends revealed by its research had been in play long before lockdowns and the surge in remote working.

One of the key findings was that IT leaders faced a number of immediate challenges as a result of needing to shift to fully remote working models, at pace, in 2020.

Prior to the global coronavirus outbreak, 36% of the 500 global IT professionals surveyed had only worked from home occasionally and 30% had never worked from home before. By the time this survey was fielded, however, 91% of IT professionals were working remotely and just over three-quarters (78%) said that everyone at their company was working remotely.

Some 13% of remote workers said they had chosen to work remotely rather than being required to by their company. Only 9% of IT professionals surveyed were not working remotely when the research took place.

More than half (54%) of IT leaders said they had experienced initial disruptions or outages with their normal software, productivity or collaboration tools as a result of companies shifting to a remote working model in the first half of 2020.

As many as 70% of IT professionals said they had found it find it challenging to adapt to their new responsibilities of supporting a remote workforce, and the same percentage found it challenging to keep data secure as their organisations increasingly relied on the cloud.

Just over two-thirds (69%) said it was challenging to ensure there was enough network bandwidth available to avoid service disruptions, with 29% saying they were finding it “very challenging” to do so.

UK teams also lacked confidence in their infrastructure, with only just under three-fifths of UK-based respondents being “confident” or at least “somewhat confident” in their organisation’s plan to withstand an unanticipated crisis. Only 28% of UK respondents felt “very confident” in their organisation’s plan, compared with 37% of those in the US and Canada, and 39% in Australia and New Zealand.

UK respondents also revealed a number of challenges related to supporting an increased number of remote workers. Just over half (51%) of UK-based IT leaders experienced initial disruptions or outages with their software, productivity or collaboration tools as a result of shifting to remote work in the first half of 2020.

The study also revealed that Covid-19 was “dramatically” accelerating cloud adoption. Prior to the pandemic, UK IT professionals said 62% of their workload was in the cloud, compared with 65% globally. Thinking ahead to 2025, UK IT leaders expect that number to increase to 79%, compared with 78% globally.

In terms of embracing automation, the study highlighted a lag among UK IT departments compared with their global counterparts. IT leaders in the UK were least likely to expect “a great deal” of focus on automation in the coming three years at 47%, compared with 63% in both the US and Canada and Australia and New Zealand.

While as many as 93% of all IT leaders say automation allows IT leaders and their teams to focus on more strategic tasks and initiatives, only two-fifths of their UK cohort strongly agreed with this statement, compared with 52% in the US and Canada and 51% in Australia and New Zealand.

Compared with other regions, UK IT leaders were least likely to be worried about losing their own jobs due to IT automation, at 4%. The rate was 8% and 13% in the US and Canada and Australia and New Zealand, respectively. Conversely, UK IT leaders were most likely to worry about their colleagues losing their jobs (29%), compared with 25% in the US and Canada and 24% in Australia and New Zealand.

Commenting on the Evolution of IT research report, Kevin McGibben, CEO and president of LogicMonitor, said: “Maintaining business continuity is both more difficult and more important than ever in the era of Covid-19. IT teams are being asked to do whatever it takes – from accelerating digital transformation plans to expanding cloud services – to keep people connected and businesses running as many offices and storefronts pause in-person operations.

“Our research confirms that the time is now for modern enterprises to build automation into their IT systems and shift workloads to the cloud to safeguard IT resiliency.”

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