As organizations of all sizes continue to wait and see how the next phase of the COVID-19 pandemic might evolve, a survey of 400 IT leaders at organizations with more than 500 employees suggests IT leaders, in terms of setting their next priorities, are moving on.

Conducted by Snow Software, a provider of a platform for managing IT assets, the survey finds 92 percent of IT leaders report their organizations were moving or had already moved to a hybrid work model. Only a little more than a third (34 percent) said they expect enabling hybrid work models to be their primary focus over the next 12 months.

Instead, the top priorities cited are enabling competitive differentiation (57 percent), reducing or optimizing IT costs (55 percent), managing digital transformation initiatives (54 percent), and accelerating cloud adoption and migration (48 percent).

IT leaders remain concerned about remote work

For example, controlling and optimizing IT costs (18 percent), reining in shadow IT (16 percent) and managing cybersecurity threats (13 percent) were all noted as challenging aspects of supporting or transitioning to hybrid work. A full 84 percent also noted they expect to allocate additional funding to support new ways of working, with 37 percent planning to hire additional IT staff as part of those funding initiatives. More than a third (34 percent) also noted remote work would increase overall consumption of IT resources.

The biggest impact of the pandemic, overall, appears to be increased dependency on Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications. A total of 70 percent reported that investments in SaaS platforms has increased over the past 12 months. Nearly half said that controlling SaaS sprawl was their biggest challenge, while 26 percent said it was discovering unmanaged applications. When asked about the most impactful SaaS applications at their organization over the past year, 32 percent of IT leaders cited Microsoft 365 followed by Google Workspace (20 percent), Zoom (19 percent) and Salesforce (11 percent).

Most organizations have adjusted to the ‘new normal’

The issue going into next year is how to allocate IT budgets based on their current priorities. Managed service providers (MSPs) would do well to remember that while many fiscal years start in October, decisions about how IT budgets should be allocated are being made now. MSPs have a vested interest in making sure they are part of those conversations because once budgets are allocated to a specific project, it’s difficult to convince the leadership of an organization to alter course.

The fact that IT leaders are moving on from COVID-19 doesn’t mean the pandemic is any less of a crisis. It’s just from an IT perspective, most IT leaders appear to feel they’ve done enough to support remote work, especially as more vaccinated employees head back to the office.

It may not necessarily be business as usual going forward, but the days when the pandemic was a dominant factor in almost every IT decision being made are coming to an end. Determining just what precisely comes next, of course, is still anybody’s guess.

Photo: Rawpixel.com / Shutterstock

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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