UPDATED 17:43 EDT / JUNE 02 2020

stress CLOUD

Surveys find COVID-19 is stressing IT pros but also elevating their importance

Three recent surveys document the toll that the COVID-19 pandemic is taking on information technology professionals, ranging from long work hours to heightened stress levels caused by the need to support employees who are using new tools for the first time.

Yet some are saying there has never been a better time for IT to influence their organization’s march toward a more efficient digital future.

IT groups have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic’s disruptions because they must attend both to a new burden of supporting large remote workforces while also shoring up digital channels for customer interaction. A survey of 1,000 IT pros in large organizations by Cisco Systems Inc.’s AppDynamics subsidiary found that 81% said COVID-19 has created unprecedented pressure on their organizations and 61% feel that they’re under more work pressure than ever. Nearly two-thirds said they’re being asked to perform tasks they’ve never done before.

Economic pressures stemming from the pandemic-driven recession are no doubt contributing to the pressure. A survey of 1,002 enterprise IT managers by Yellowbrick Data Inc. found that 89% said their companies are more focused on cost optimization than before the outbreak began. An overwhelming 95% said COVID-19 has made their lives more centered on technology than ever before but nearly 64% believe the worldwide response to pandemics needs to be better coordinated.

The pandemic has “exposed weaknesses in digital transformation strategies,” said Gregg Ostrowski, regional chief technology officer at AppDynamics. That analysis is borne out by the company’s finding that 74% of IT pros said digital transformation projects that would typically take more than a year to be approved have been signed off in a matter of weeks. “You have a lot of projects that were held up by legacy processes,” Ostrowski said. In response to the pandemic, “companies saw the need to rapidly change.”

The result is a leap forward in digital transformation activity but often without the necessary support mechanisms in place. Nine in 10 respondents to the AppDynamics survey said they need more support in defining clear goals and objectives and 87% feel a greater need to have the freedom to experiment and take risks.

Their anxiety may be heightened by the speed with which organizations are shifting to the cloud during the pandemic, often without the luxury of time to enforce strict policies on configuration. Another survey by application development security provider Accurics Inc. found that while organizations are moving quickly toward deploying infrastructure as code, 90% are allowing privileged users to make configuration changes to cloud infrastructure after it’s deployed. Misconfiguration errors have been cited as the No. 1 security risk to organizations using the cloud.

Nevertheless, there is a bright side to the research. AppDynamics also found that 87% of IT pros see this period as one of opportunity for them to show their value to the business and 80% said the response of their teams has positively changed the perception of IT within their organizations. Similarly, Yellowbrick’s survey found that 66% of respondents are accelerating the migration of analytics to the cloud and 44% are moving faster to cloud platforms in general.

Bottom line, said Ostrowski, is that IT organizations are primed to come out of this period primed to take a more assertive role in leading their companies forward. “Business is becoming more reliant on technologists,” he said. “It’s what will separate the weak from the strong.”

Photo: Unsplash

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