The Littlefish Digital Transformation Survey: Common IT issues

Read time 4 mins

Written June 2018

In this increasingly digital world, where big business is data driven, IT is supposed to inform strategy and help reach strategic goals. Yet despite this change of positioning, many IT operations are still focused on fixing things when they go wrong and reactively fighting fires – application failure, storage capacity shortages and cyber security incident response for instance.

Littlefish surveyed over 100 IT decision makers (ITDMs) to identify the issues that are holding them back. This is what we learned.

The most common issues

By far the biggest issue for IT professionals is the number of “mundane tasks” that need to be completed. Keeping the lights on is time consuming and resource intensive – and nearly one third of respondents think it’s preventing them from completing strategic projects that will support and enhance business performance.

Ideally, the IT leader would be able to delegate some of these tasks to the rest of their team – but that too is a problem. One in five businesses say they lack key skills and talent, so it may be that there’s simply no one to delegate to. Keeping the lights on starts to look more like fighting a fire.

Even in an age of increased automation and autonomous systems, people are incredibly important. The most important factor for productive and efficient operations is having the right people and skills in place, according to 46% of IT decision makers.

Throw money at the problem

The obvious solution to skills shortages is to boost recruitment – but budget constraints create yet another hurdle for ITDMs. Over a quarter (26%) are already struggling with insufficient finance, leaving nothing to spend on hiring. And of those ITDMs who do have a recruitment budget, almost half (41%) do not believe they have enough to hire the talent they need.

And money is not the only problem with recruitment. Complaints about talent availability (16%) or a lack of skills and experience (16%) suggest that ITDMs often can’t find the people they need.

Increase use of outsourcing?

More than 70% of businesses already make use of managed IT services, helping to plug the skills gap. But even here there are problems; a third of ITDMs believe that outsourcing is too expensive, and 36% say they’re not getting value for money. In fact, a mere 5% of respondents rate the service they receive as ‘very good’.

Money seems to be at the root of every IT issue – either a lack of cash to invest in much-needed people and systems, or a failure to realise the expected returns on investments previously made.

Some ITDMs are seeing results

If you’re concerned about outsourcing partnerships, you’re not alone. Dissatisfaction about cost and value for money are joined by complaints about responsiveness and the overall level of customer service received.

But there is clear evidence that outsourcing does resolve budget problems – if the right IT partner is selected. One-fifth (20%) of ITDMs report that they receive service excellence and value for money from their partnerships for instance. And 40% report that their outsourced service desk delivers “good” or “very good” cost-effectiveness.

The same benefits are true of skills shortages – again if the right IT partner is selected. Almost 50% of ITDMs identify access to extra skills and resources as the most valuable aspect of outsourcing.

The report findings prove that the claims of outsourcing providers can be realised. Carefully chosen, well-managed outsourcing really does free up internal resources and provide access to much needed skills. Which means that ITDMs can finally focus resources and investment on the strategic projects that will drive the business forwards.

The choice of IT partner is crucial

Regardless of industry or corporate headcount, ITDMs report the same issues consistently – time, money and skills. Many are already using third-party outsourcing to mitigate these problems, but with mixed results.

For every ITDM reporting satisfaction with their outsourcing partner, there is another who isn’t pleased with their partnership and outcomes. It’s clear that identifying the right partner has a major effect on how successful outsourcing can be.

Outsourcing is not an entirely passive process. The businesses reporting the best outcomes from their agreements are proactive – both in identifying suitable providers, and in building an ongoing relationship that ensures their issues are being addressed properly.

The solution to the most common IT issues is not simply outsourcing. It is identifying the right partner first.

Key takeaways

  • A lack of time, money and skills are the biggest threat to strategic IT projects.
  • ITDMs don’t have the money to invest in solving their in-house skills shortages.
  • Some ITDMs report serious dissatisfaction with their outsourcing agreements.
  • The choice of IT outsourcing partner determines ultimate success or failure.
  • Time, money and skill shortages can be solved with the correct IT outsourcing partner.


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