IT 2021: Overcoming The Economic Pressures Of COVID-19

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2021 is another year of disruption as IT and businesses adapt to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For many organizations, 2020 brought rapid changes — workforces went remote, retail moved online, and traditional services were redesigned for the virtual world. If anything, 2020 showed how digital transformation and IT flexibility enable organizations to quickly pivot toward new and unexpected challenges.

As a result, organizations are accelerating their digital transformations, using new tools and technologies to create new processes, services, and value streams. In 2021 alone, at least 30% of organizations will begin to reinvent their business models in order to future-proof their organizations.

IT will be doing much of the heavy-lifting for these transformations.

For example, Gartner research suggests that, by 2022, 70% of customer experience programs will rely on IT. Organizations are increasingly reliant on digital systems and new technologies, asking IT to provide more capabilities that drive innovation. 

As business success becomes more dependent on IT, IT teams are finding themselves more involved in strategic discussions and business operations. CIOs and IT leaders are forging closer relationships with line-of-business leaders, and in many cases are now leading customer experience programs.

Meanwhile, IT teams are still busy managing day-to-day IT tasks, maintaining infrastructure, and responding to help desk requests. Considerable resources will be needed to prepare organizations for a digital-first future. Technological advancements in broadband, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things (IoT), matched with exponential growth in data, will continue to disrupt markets and business models through 2021 and beyond. 

This all comes at a time when many IT departments are facing budget constraints. In a recent survey by TechRepublic, 62% of IT departments reported budget cuts in 2021 as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

IT Departments Are Under Resourced 

IT departments are playing larger roles within the organization, yet are struggling to recruit and retain IT professionals. According to joint research from Wiley Education Services and Future Workplace, 64% of organizations report skills gaps, with technology and IT among the hardest roles to fill. 

Unfortunately, the skills gap doesn’t appear to be narrowing. A Gartner study found that 51% of IT teams have experienced layoffs, hiring freezes, and wage freezes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yet the IT skills gap isn’t new. It has always been difficult to locate professionals with experience in emerging technologies. But this difficulty is growing as the evolution of technology accelerates. Three technologies that are critical to strategic IT objectives — edge computing, container management, and automation — also happen to have some of the widest skill gaps.

At the same time, veteran IT professionals with deep knowledge of legacy systems are retiring, contributing to a growing knowledge gap. IT teams are strained, and as digital transformation accelerates, they’re being asked to do a lot more with limited resources.

Process Automation And Orchestration

In order to meet business demands, IT teams have been automating as many tasks and processes as possible. A study by Ernst & Young has found that 41% of companies are investing in accelerating their automation.

However, IT environments are too complex for simple task automation implemented in siloes. Basic automation tools such as RPA, native schedulers, and custom applications cannot provide the extensibility needed to rapidly automate and orchestrate. Many of these tools require time-consuming custom scripts or other forms of unreliable integration.

In order to create seamless, reliable processes that manage data across diverse endpoints, IT leaders are pushing for process automation and orchestration. Gartner expects that by 2024, 80% of IT teams will replace their traditional automation tools with service orchestration and automation platforms (SOAPs). SOAPs are highly extensible workload automation platforms that enable IT teams to rapidly integrate new tools and technologies, and to monitor and manage diverse processes from a single location.

“SOAPs do not represent a new market, rather a transformation of a mature market for workload automation tools to meet modern infrastructure, application and data requirements.”

Gartner, Market Guide for Service Orchestration and Automation Platforms 

By automating manual tasks, IT teams can prevent unnecessary errors, optimize processes, and deliver data faster. More can be done with less — improved reliability means less time spent troubleshooting. And by orchestrating processes from a single location, IT can streamline the development, management, and monitoring of disparate processes. More can be automated faster.

Additionally, modern workload automation platforms provide easy-to-use REST API adapters that drastically reduce the need for custom scripting. This makes it possible for IT professionals to quickly develop end-to-end processes regardless of their experience levels or knowledge of underlying technologies, helping IT teams to bridge the skills gap.

Learn more about reducing complexity and enabling transformation in our free eBook, “Stop Fighting Digital Transformation.”

Digital transformation brings new challenges and complexities, but with the right systems and processes, IT can become the agent of change the enterprise needs.

See how you can enable innovation with automation and orchestration by opening the free ebook, “Stop Fighting Digital Transformation“.

Brian is a staff writer for the IT Automation Without Boundaries blog, where he covers IT news, events, and thought leadership. He has written for several publications around the New York City-metro area, both in print and online, and received his B.A. in journalism from Rowan University. When he’s not writing about IT orchestration and modernization, he’s nose-deep in a good book or building Lego spaceships with his kids.