IT Pros Say They're Undervalued in Workplace

​New Survey Reveals IT Professionals' Priorities & Challenges

As the global economy grows ever more dependent on the fast-evolving IT sector, the perspectives of IT professionals on their challenges and opportunities take on greater weight.  But according to a new survey commissioned by Kensington, a worldwide computer accessory company, many IT professionals believe that IT is being sorely undervalued in the workplace.

The survey, of IT pros in the U.S., UK and Australia, conducted through Spiceworks' "Voice of IT" network, addresses a broad spectrum of factors crucial to implementing and assessing IT in the business environment: strategy, security, budget, productivity barriers to improvement, helpdesk commitments, administrative pressures, time allocation and employee wellness. 

Yet it is the perceived value of IT -- or lack thereof -- that appears to be the subject of the survey's most noteworthy findings.  The fact that many IT professionals "juggle wearing multiple hats and, dealing with ‘human issues’ in particular," may detract from the value they are able to deliver to their organizations, according to the survey report.

When asked about the personality they most identify with, 32 percent of survey respondents felt they were most like a firefighter – but, as the report states, "in spending so much time dealing with employee errors and administrative tasks, there’s a chance [IT professionals'] talents are undervalued and underutilized."

Survey respondents also specified their complaints about organizations’ overall commitment to IT -- which ranged from no or low budget allocation and lack of management understanding, to limited training for end-users.  Forty-four percent complained that they were hampered by lack of time/resources; 40 percent blamed insufficient budget; 36 percent complained that IT was perceived as a cost, not as an opportunity; and 28 percent grumbled that employees disregard the ‘rules’.

Other Key Findings:

Security

Security, not surprisingly, was afforded the top budget priority of the IT professionals surveyed, followed by employee connectivity/uptime and employee set up/workspace configuration.  Human error, lack of process or "employees not following" established processes, and external threats were seen as the biggest IT security risks to organizations. (Employee training is considered a vital component of corporate security -- yet the survey found that just 5 percent of IT professionals' time was allocated to training.)

Infrastructure

The survey respondents also cited hardware/ infrastructure refresh and OS updates as important for 2016. However, big data and cloud technology were acknowledged as higher priorities by companies in Australia compared to businesses in the U.S. and the UK.

Employee Wellness

Respondents appear to be increasingly focused on employee wellness, but they still have some way to go to meet employees’ expectations. Just over half of IT professionals reported that they had not received any requests from colleagues or employees regarding their wellness - possibly due to a lack of awareness of the options open to them.

Strategy

IT professionals want to spend more time on IT strategy but insufficient budget, lack of time/resources, and a prevailing attitude within their organizations that technology is a cost, not an opportunity, are reported barriers.

Productivity and Adoption of New Technology

Improved or upgraded systems and multi-screening/monitors/displays are the most common technology measures implemented specifically to improve performance across all three countries. The U.S. and UK have similar rates of cloud adoption, with roughly one third of organizations having already shifted to some extent. Organizations in Australia have so far placed more emphasis on BYOD than their counterparts in the U.S. and UK, but U.S. employees are driving change, rather than organizational top-down initiatives.

Time

Industry-level conversation may be focused on issues such as BYOD, but day-to-day, much time is spent dealing with general maintenance issues. IT professionals spend 35 percent of their time dealing with user helpdesk support and administrative matters.

Opportunity

If the current scenario were to be switched, and IT resource freed and empowered to focus on improving productivity, IT professionals may feel more valued - while the organizations they work for could receive greater value in return

"IT today is the essential driver of insight and knowledge in the business place -- but insight and knowledge on the application of IT is no less essential if it is to be utilized successfully," explained Kensington Global Vice President Ben Thacker.  "We believe that this new survey provides unique new insights on the application of IT from those best qualified to offer it, IT professionals."

"Most consequentially," he added, "we hope that the survey's troubling findings on how IT is perceived, or misperceived, by too many in the workplace will help induce better appraisals of IT's real value and potential impact." 

Observing the dominance of the firefighter role, Ben Hawkes, business psychologist and Director of Mindsight.work, commented: “IT professionals are far from alone in being firefighters: their colleagues across all business functions – from Sales to HR to Finance – feel the same way. Part of the problem is that IT professionals make great firefighters, but then that’s how they get pigeonholed by their colleagues outside of IT.”

To overcome this issue, Mr. Hawkes devised three top tips to empower IT Managers:

  1. It’s easy to focus on tasks that are High Importance and High Urgency. That’s firefighting. But strategy and proactivity are HILU: High Importance and Low Urgency

  2. Carve out time - every day if possible - to devote to HILU tasks. Set aside time not just in your schedule, but also in meetings and in conversations with your manager to discuss strategy and proactivity

  3. If you think your non-IT colleagues don’t understand what IT does, you’re right. And only IT can change that. Make your work visible to your organization through regular communications, newsletters or even roadshows

About Kensington

Kensington is the #1 brand in physical security for laptops and mobile devices. Its extensive product line-up also includes a full suite of desktop accessories like trackballs, docks, mice, and keyboards, as well as mobile device accessories and ergonomic products for the office, home or school. Kensington’s laptop and mobile security locks provide front-line protection to keep a wide variety of devices safe from theft. In addition, Kensington offers accessories including power adapters, chargers, and carrying cases like backpacks, messenger bags and sleeves.

Headquartered in San Mateo, California, Kensington is the technology division of ACCO Brands, a world leader in branded office products, with products marketed in more than 100 countries across the globe.

About Ben Thacker – Kensington Global Vice President 
With over 16 years’ industry experience, Ben joined Kensington in 2013 – having previously worked for companies such as HP, Asus and Compaq. Under his leadership, his sales and operational divisions have twice been named CDW Vendor of the Year. Ben has an MBA from Rice University and graduated Cum Laude while earning his Bachelor’s Degree at University of California, Riverside. He is also fluent in Spanish and Portuguese.

About Spiceworks Voice of IT®

The Spiceworks Voice of ITmarket insights program publishes stats, trends and opinions collected from small and medium business technology professionals who are among the more than 6 million users of Spiceworks. Survey panellists opt-in to answer questions on technology trends important to them.

Research Methodology

Kensington commissioned market research to identify the top IT investment trends for 2016 (e.g., BYOD, Cloud, Mobility, etc.). Spiceworks Voice of IT surveyed 251 IT decision makers in an online survey during October 2015. All respondents questioned were required to be actively involved in IT decisions / deployment for their organization.

Marc Brailov -- mbrai2015@gmail.com

Source: Marc Brailov


Categories: Business Technology

Tags: CIOs, cloud, computers, IT managers, IT professionals' survey, software, technology