Support for flexible working an increasing challenge for IT managers, claims survey

Flexible workingOne of the greatest challenges currently facing IT managers is providing secure and robust technological infrastructure for flexible working, and it is set to become even greater as more and more firms adopt Cloud based working, according to a new report  from technology specialists ControlCircle. The survey of 250 UK based CIOs, ‘IT Growth and Transformation’ found that over the next five years the increasing mobility of the workforce is going to present them with a range of increasingly important challenges, with IT leaders predicting that security (56 percent), cloud (46 percent) and mobility (41 percent) set to become the biggest challenges they face. The survey also revealed that nearly half (48 percent) of respondents experience hourly, daily and weekly technology availability issues and a fifth (21 percent) experience business downtime daily or hourly as a result.

Overall, smaller organisations (employing between 251-500 employees) report a higher level of service excellence across the board. Even in this group, only 46percent claim excellence in quality of service, regardless of budget. Among larger enterprises, only 20 percent of respondents believed they were achieving ‘best effort’ in quality of service, regardless of cost control.

When questioned about IT environment complexity opinions are split. 40 percent of respondents agree that their current environments are more complex compared to five years ago, with hybrid IT (in which there is a mix on in-house and Cloud technology) cited as the most difficult and complex to manage by 55 percent. Looking forward five years, approximately half believe their current IT environment will simplify; yet, 30 percent still believe complexity will increase. 52 percent of respondents state that they do not have the ability to support the hybrid IT environment within a single IT governance framework.

This complexity is exacerbated by the proliferation of monitoring tools. Respondents revealed that on average, IT departments are using at least thirteen monitoring tools to manage discrete applications in their IT estate. The number of tools was reported as high as 17 in large organisations.

The cloud is seen as a current and increasing challenge for IT departments, with the use of private cloud services more common than not. This leads to a large proportion of organisations having hybrid IT environments that make use of managed service providers (MSPs). Across the board approximately 50 percent of all respondents have part of their IT infrastructure as a managed service. When it comes to choosing a MSP almost two thirds of respondents report that 24/7 service is crucial, alongside flexibility (55 percent) and cost effectiveness (54 percent).

“Use of private cloud services are more common than not in today’s enterprise, with most IT organisations using a mix of IT services,” comments Carmen Carey, MD at ControlCircle. “This leads to a large proportion of organisations having a hybrid IT environment, which they cannot keep control of, making 24/7 service and flexibility the top ‘must haves’ within third party services partners. These issues are made worse by a complexity in tools adopted to monitor the environment, leaving CIOs struggling for real time visibility and a sense that they are in control. What is interesting is that over half of respondents agreed, or strongly agreed, that hybrid IT is difficult and complex to manage. With the increase in cloud adaption, MSPs are a sure way organisations can get the expertise they need to future proof their business.”

The three biggest challenges IT departments are currently facing are security, cloud and compliance (65 percent, 36 percent and 34 percent respectively). In the next five years mobility of workforce and forms of flexible working is going to become of increasing importance, with IT leaders predicting that security (56 percent), cloud (46 percent) and mobility (41 percent) are to become the biggest challenges IT departments face.

The prevalence of big data is also predicted to rise in the next five years. It makes the biggest jump in ranking (originally seventh on the list of nine, rising to fourth) with an 8 percent increase from 30 percent to 38 percent.

The in-depth research was conducted with 250 senior IT decision-makers working in UK organisations that employ 3rd party and managed service providers and a minimum of 250 staff. The IT leaders interviewed were taken from the manufacturing, technology, financial services, professional services, healthcare, telecoms and utilities industries.