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SolarWinds Study of Singapore IT Professionals Finds Cloud Computing is Top Transformative Technology and Main Cause of Mounting Performance Challenges

SolarWinds, a leading provider of powerful and affordable IT management software, today released the findings of its annual state-of-the-industry study. The new study reveals the state of today’s IT landscape: IT professionals are continuing to prioritize investments in cloud computing as they grapple with how to leverage the benefits of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). A juxtaposition of the findings with other independent research also suggests a misalignment between the IT investment priorities of the practitioners surveyed and their leaders.

The IT Trends Report 2018: The Intersection of Hype and Performance, the company’s annual report on IT trends, explores the spectrum of today’s existing and emerging technologies and the extent to which they are disrupting IT and optimizing the performance of environments as organizations progress in their digital transformation journeys.

Overall, Singapore IT professionals are prioritizing investments in cloud computing and hybrid IT more than any other technology; over four-fifths of IT professionals surveyed indicate that cloud/hybrid IT and big data analytics are among the top five most important technologies to their organization’s IT strategy today, with 52 percent listing cloud/hybrid IT as their number one most important technology. This mirrors the SolarWinds IT Trends Report 2016: The Hybrid IT Evolutionwhere nearly all (92 percent) of the IT professionals surveyed said adopting cloud technologies is important to their organizations’ long-term business success.

However, the rapid adoption of new technologies has created environments that are not optimized for peak performance: local IT professionals indicated that by weighted rank, cloud/hybrid IT is the greatest challenge when it comes to implementation, rollout and/or day-to-day performance. At the same time, nearly half (44 percent) think that their IT environments are not operating at optimal levels with 72 percent those surveyed spending less than half of their time proactively optimizing performance.

At the same time, IT professional respondents also cite inadequate organizational strategy (49 percent) is the number one barrier to system optimization. Ultimately, to keep pace with changing environments and achieve successful digital transformation, IT professionals require new skill sets and deeper strategic collaboration with business leaders.

“The narrative in today’s IT industry revolves around transformative technologies like AI, machine learning, blockchain, and more. These technologies are unquestionably important, but the results of this year’s study reveal that IT professionals are still prioritizing investments in technologies that help run day-to-day operations, and choosing initiatives that deliver more immediate value,” said Joe Kim, executive vice president and global chief technology officer, SolarWinds. “The SolarWinds IT Trends Report 2018 shows IT professionals are focusing in on proven technologies that deliver value today, such as the cloud, with an eye towards AI for tomorrow.”

“This is how most IT professionals currently are optimizing their environments to help unlock additional performance for their organizations,” he added.

2018 Key Findings

The SolarWinds IT Trends Report 2018: The Intersection of Hype and Performance explores IT professionals’ view about what is happening in their technology worlds, and how their organizations are prioritizing existing and emerging technologies. Key findings show that:

Cloud computing and hybrid IT will remain IT professionals’ top priority for the next five years as these elements meet today’s business needs while serving as the backbone to trends like ML and AI.

  • Over four-fifths of IT professionals surveyed indicate that cloud and/or hybrid IT and big data analytics are among the top five most important technologies in their IT organization’s technology strategy today, with 52 percent listing cloud/hybrid IT as their number one most important technology.
  • When ranking most important technologies today and for digital transformation over the next three to five years, as well as technologies with the greatest potential to provide productivity/efficiency benefits and ROI, IT professionals ranked cloud and/or hybrid IT as number one across the board (by weighted rank).
    • Big data analytics is ranked as the number two priority for technology strategy today, as well as the technology needed for IT digital transformation over the next three to five years and the technology with the best potential to deliver the highest ROI.
    • IT professionals ranked automation as number two when it comes to technologies/management tools with the greatest potential to provide productivity/efficiency benefits.

At the same time, IT professionals are setting their sights toward future innovation in emerging technologies like AI and ML.

  • In terms of most important technologies and management tools to an IT organisation’s technology strategy today, AI and ML were the number five and six priorities, respectively (by weighted rank).
  • Looking ahead to the next three to five years, AI and ML jump to number three and four priority technologies, respectively (by weighted rank).
  • Cloud service providers such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft® Azure® are investing heavily in AI technologies and capabilities, which presents an opportunity for IT professionals to leverage existing investment in cloud offerings to experiment with and deploy AI-based services in their organizations.

The results of the IT Trends Survey suggest a dissonance between the views of IT professionals and their senior managers on priorities for IT investment over the next three to five years.

  • On the weighted list of technologies that IT professionals believe are needed for an IT organization’s digital transformation over the next three to five years, AI—while gaining in importance­—only just made the top five.
    • This contrasts with a recent global CEO survey, which found that AI and ML is the number one strategic priority four-fifths of enterprise C-suites are placing on their operations.
      • Enterprises see AI and ML (81 per cent) and process automation and robotics (82 per cent) as important C-suite directives toward operations strategy – higher than any priority other than cost reduction (HFS Research).
    • As AI and ML continue to mature, IT professionals will be required to have a fundamental understanding of these technologies and their capabilities to act as an educated liaison for business leadership when it comes time to consider the benefits of adoption.

While IT professionals continue prioritizing cloud computing and hybrid IT, adoption of these technologies has made it challenging to optimize performance of their systems and applications.

  • IT professionals surveyed indicated that by weighted rank, cloud/hybrid IT is the greatest challenge when it comes to implementation, rollout and/or day-to-day performance. This is followed closely by IoT and big data analytics.
  • Nearly half (44 percent) of all IT professionals surveyed think that their IT environments are not operating at optimal levels.
    • 72 percent of IT surveyed spend less than half of their time proactively optimizing performance, and only 1 in 25 IT professionals spend 75 percent or more of their time doing so.
  • This echoes findings from the 2017 SolarWinds IT Trends Report: Portrait of a Hybrid IT Organization, in which 37 percent of IT professionals surveyed who migrated critical applications and infrastructure to the cloud ultimately brought back/left area(s) on-premises due to security concerns, budget and performance issues.

Many IT professionals cite a lack of organizational strategy and inadequacy in areas like app strategy and infrastructure as the most common barriers to system optimization.

  • Of IT professionals indicating their environments are not optimized, inadequate organizational strategy is the number one barrier to achieving optimization, followed closely by inadequate app strategy and inadequate infrastructure (by weighted rank).
    • To achieve optimized performance and work towards a successful digital transformation, IT professionals require deeper strategic collaboration with business leaders.
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