It’s that time of year again. SolarWinds 2018 IT Trends Report is out! See the SolarWinds IT Trends Index for the full story; I've covered the top takeaways below.

 

Cloud computing and hybrid IT remain IT professionals' top priority for the next five years because these elements meet today's business needs while serving as the foundation for constructs like machine learning and AI.

  • 94 percent of IT professionals surveyed indicate that cloud and/or hybrid IT is one of the top five most important technologies in their IT organization's technology strategy today, with 51 percent listing it as their number one most important technology.
  • IT professionals ranked cloud and hybrid IT as the most important technologies (by weighted rank) over the next three to five years in digital transformation and as technologies that have the greatest potential to provide productivity/efficiency benefits and ROI.

 

At the same time, IT professionals are prioritizing internal investments in containers as a proven solution to the challenges of cloud computing and hybrid IT, and a key enabler of innovation.

  • 44 percent of respondents ranked containers as the most important technology priority today, and 38 percent of respondents ranked containers as the most important technology priority three to five years from now.
  • Concurrently, AI and ML investments are expected to increase over the next three to five years.
  • 37 percent of respondents indicate AI is the biggest priority and 31 percent of respondents indicate ML is the biggest priority three to five years from now (compared to 29 percent and 21 percent today, respectively).

 

 

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 IT professionals believe are needed for an IT organization's digital transformation over the next three to five years, AI did not make the top five.
    • This contrasts with a recent CEO survey, which found that 81 percent of CEOs consider AI and machine learning to be a priority for their business, up from just 54 percent in 2016 (Fortune).

 

 

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.

  • 58 percent of IT professionals surveyed indicated that by weighted rank, cloud/hybrid IT presents the greatest challenges when it comes to implementation, roll-out and day-to-day performance
  • Nearly half (47 percent) of all IT professionals surveyed think that their IT environments are not operating at optimal levels
    • Over half of all IT professionals surveyed spend less than 25 percent of their time proactively optimizing performance
    • Nearly half of IT professionals spend 50 percent or more of their time reactively maintaining and troubleshooting their IT environment

 

Many IT professionals cite a lack of organizational strategy and inadequate investment in areas such as user training as the most common barriers to system optimization.

  • Of IT professionals indicating their environments are not optimized, 43 percent ranked inadequate organizational strategy as one of the top three barriers to achieving optimization
    • To achieve true performance and work toward a successful digital transformation, IT professionals require deeper strategic collaboration with business leaders.

 

Do these takeaways mirror your organizational priorities and challenges? Let me know in the comment section below.