The single most important attribute any managed services provider (MSP) can arguably have is empathy for their customers. If the customer doesn’t think their MSP is feeling their pain the odds that they will go find someone else who does, increases substantially. Even after a year like no other, a new survey suggests the way customers feel about IT hasn’t changed all that much. The top of mind issue remains data, according to a survey of 150 data and analytics leaders by ibi, an arm of TIBCO Software that provides analytics and integration software.

Specifically, the quality of data and securing it tied for first as the top issue keeping IT managers awake at night at 72 percent each. Data management came in third at 59 percent, followed by compliance (43 percent) and privacy regulations (41 percent).

Despite all the hype surround digital business transformation and working from home, IT managers know that unless they can ensure data quality and security, all their other efforts will simply be for naught. In fact, IT leaders are trying to deal with one set of issues in the here and now, while at the same time casting an eye on the future. The ibi survey finds half of respondents (50 percent) report their data is still stored on-premises, compared to 42 percent that store it across a hybrid IT environment. Only 5 percent store data in the cloud exclusively.

Flash forward three years, and the survey finds that 56 percent expect to be making use of hybrid clouds to store data, while on-premises only drops to 10 percent. Cloud only storage rose to 27 percent in contrast.

Importance of data continues to rise

Overall, 44 percent said they plan to increase spending in 2021, while 38 percent said spending will remain about the same as it was in 2020. Nearly half of respondents (48 percent) said work-from-home programs are a priority. However, only 19 percent said the COVID-19 pandemic had altered their spending plans, with new strategic initiatives (28 percent) being the most affected.

The appetite to take on new risks during a pandemic may not be as high as many IT vendors might prefer to believe. Instead, it appears most organizations may have chosen to accelerate strategic initiatives already underway at the start of the pandemic.

On the plus side, 94 percent of respondents said data is very or somewhat important to digital transformation, with 70 percent noting executives and senior managers are very aware of potential business advantages enabled by data and analytics. However, only half (49 percent) said leadership is making the importance of it clear to employees, and only 25 percent have a chief data officer (CDO).

Put it altogether and it’s clear that it’s not so much the scope of the opportunities to transform business processes that has IT leaders worried. Rather, it’s their ability to execute. Very few organizations would win a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval for the way they managed and secured data prior to the pandemic. That may have improved somewhat since the start of the pandemic, but for all intents and purposes the one place most organizations are still desperate for help from an MSP remains data management and security.

Photo: Sam Wordley / Shutterstock

Mike Vizard

Posted by Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications including InfoWorld, eWeek, CRN, Baseline, ComputerWorld, TMCNet, and Digital Review. He currently blogs for IT Business Edge and contributes to CIOinsight, The Channel Insider, Programmableweb and Slashdot. Mike blogs about emerging cloud technology for Smarter MSP.

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