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When IT departments don’t meet their operational targets, new research just released by Lexington, Mass.-based IT services company Ipswitch found that it’s because they’re not receiving the human and financial resources necessary to do their increasingly complex and difficult jobs.

Ipswitch surveyed 2,685 global enterprise IT professionals ― 61 percent located in the US ― and asked them to name their single biggest IT challenge.

Mission Critical

According to Ipswitch CMO and EVP Jeff Loeb, IT departments of all sizes find themselves struggling these days to keep their digital enterprise goals on track.

And he warned that, “IT has become the engine for most corporations. If IT is struggling, your business is sure to follow.”

Loeb told CMSWire that he sees four major downsides to leaving IT departments underappreciated and underfunded:

  • Security breaches
  • Downtime
  • Performance degradation
  • Poor user experiences for customer-facing applications

Eight is Enough

The Ipswitch survey respondents surfaced eight critical issues that they felt were holding back their ability to implement their organizations’ digital innovation plans and goals.

Yet along with a daunting array of issues and problems, the Ipswitch survey also provided some clear, much-needed guidance for senior managers looking to triage measures to aid to their struggling IT departments.

Security Leads the Pack

Of the eight major concerns identified in the survey results, four emerged as far more pressing than others. And within those four sub-groups, there was clear agreement among respondents as to underlying causes.

Security issues were cited by 25 percent of overall survey respondents. Within that category, breaches, malware, vulnerabilities and zero-day attacks led the list of concerns for 55 percent of the survey takers. Data and file transfer safety followed in second place at 39 percent.

Applications were named by 19 percent of the surveyed IT managers. Infrastructure visibility ― including systems, Microsoft apps, network, virtual environments, web servers and HTML certificates ― was their biggest concern at 50 percent, with networking performance concerns weighing on the minds of 34 percent.

New technology rang in as the leading factor for 14 percent of the survey group overall, with 67 percent of that group going on to identify updates and new technology deployments as their biggest problem. Keeping abreast of new technologies was also cited by 26 percent of this group.

Time, budget and resources were named as the top focus by 10 percent of the survey group. Nearly half (46 percent) of those blamed time and internal resource constraints as the stumbling blocks keeping them from doing their jobs effectively. Another 38 percent saw limited budgets as the leading cause of inability to complete projects.

Other priorities rounding out the survey with single-digit responses were business issues (7 percent), data management and storage (6 percent), device management (5 percent) and automation (4 percent.)

Here's What to Do

1. Take IT off the Chess Board

Clearly, IT managers could use a hug. But beyond morale boosting, what can C-Suite management do better to align IT resources with overall organizational priorities?

For starters, according to Loeb, organizations can keep IT from becoming a pawn in internal power struggles.

“IT is perhaps the most valuable resource within an organization [but it is] often subjected to internal battles over what gets done and when,” he pointed out.

“The idea behind this survey and report was to give a voice to IT so that management could evaluate its own needs in light of the IT viewpoint,” Loeb told CMSWire.

2. Stop Fighting Fires

Senior management can also resolve to address IT issues based on a coherent, overall plan, not just by fighting fires or attending to the “squeaky wheel” problems.

“Issues like security have received lots of attention and are on the C-Suite radar. Other issues surfaced in the report have not yet become top of mind,” Loeb reflected.

3. Don’t Shoot the Messenger

IT departments also need C-Suite support in addressing small headaches before they become big ones.

“For instance, device management and end user issues are emerging concerns,” says Loeb. “Wearable technology like the Apple Watch has rapidly penetrated corporate networks, but very few organizations have established policies to mitigate the resultant risks and impact on network capacity,” he pointed out.

4. Applaud ― and Send Money

Finally, Loeb says not to underestimate the power of a little empathy toward IT. “In most cases, IT teams are [just] trying to make do with the resources that are made available to them. [It isn’t their fault that] this often results in patchwork solutions that are not in the long-term best interests of anyone involved.”

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 Title image by Kjunstorm