Tech Forecast 2017: Facts and figures for the year ahead in IT

Computerworld - Tech Forecast 2017 - Fact and Figures for the Year Ahead [slide-01]
Computerworld

IT sharpens its focus

What's the outlook for the tech year ahead? In general, IT executives are feeling optimistic as they head into 2017. According to the results of Computerworld's Tech Forecast 2017 survey, enterprises plan to continue on the path to digital transformation, deepening their commitment to big data and analytics, as well as cloud computing and software as a service (SaaS).

But that doesn't necessarily translate to greater IT spending -- and may not bode well for rank-and-file tech employees. According to survey results, most companies plan to keep both costs and head count in check throughout their digital journeys by increasing automation to enable self-service IT. Tech staffing will generally remain flat or decrease at seven out of 10 organizations.

So which emotion will dominate in 2017 -- optimism or caution? Read on for detailed survey data on budget priorities, new tech investments, hiring, hot skills, management challenges and more.

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Computerworld

Closing the IT cash drawer

Technology spending appears to be slowing down. Fifty-nine percent of respondents to this year's Tech Forecast survey said their IT budgets would either remain the same or decrease in 2017, compared to 54% who said that in the previous year.

And the percentage of respondents who anticipate their budgets will rise in the coming year is down as well -- 41% for 2017, compared to 46% the previous year.

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Computerworld

Where the dollars are ...

When IT does open its wallet, it plans to invest in security technologies, data analytics, mobile applications, software-as-a-service and application development. 

Security is much on IT managers' minds: They listed it as the No. 1 tech skill they expect to be most difficult to hire for in 2017, and security likewise was the top choice among survey respondents when asked to name their single most important technology project.

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Computerworld

... and where the dollars aren't

Survey respondents indicated they plan to scale back spending in 2017 on hardware, legacy systems, storage, on-premises software and data center projects (consolidation, optimization and/or modernization). 

In a twist, legacy systems modernization/replacement was the No. 2 choice when survey respondents were asked to name their single most important technology project -- an indication the topic is on their to-do lists if not in their budgets for 2017.

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Computerworld

Head count takes a hit

As with spending, IT hiring is expected to cool off in 2017, with 71% of survey respondents saying their staff size will either remain the same or decrease in the next 12 months, compared to 63% who said the same in the previous year.

IT managers looking at flat or reduced staffing said they plan to cover any gaps by increasing self-service IT and investing more in cloud services. 

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Computerworld

Reasons to hire

Among the 29% of survey respondents who said they anticipate increasing head count in 2017, new systems and projects and corporate growth were the main drivers for adding IT staff. 

Thirty percent indicated they will be looking for technology pros who can articulate IT's value to the business. That's in keeping with Computerworld's reporting, which found that companies that are deep into digital transformation initiatives are often looking for IT employees with a hybrid set of skills.

Technical chops are important, but equally important are communications skills and, increasingly, the ability to connect with customers. 

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Computerworld

In demand in 2017

Among survey respondents who said they plan to add head count in the coming 12 months, programming/app dev, help desk/tech support and security lead the list of in-demand skills. 

As contributing writer Mary K. Pratt observes in 10 hottest tech skills for 2017, hiring managers frequently seek candidates with multiple in-demand skills -- database administrators who also understand business processes and user interface requirements, for example. 

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Computerworld

Beating the bushes

With news of epic hacks and data breaches continuing to dominate the headlines, it's no surprise that organizations of every size and specialty are prioritizing security in the coming year. That in turn makes security the No. 1 tech skill that survey respondents expect to have a difficult time hiring for in the next 12 months.

Others in the top 5 include programming/app dev, business intelligence/analytics, help desk/tech support and project management. 

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Computerworld

IT gets down to work

When survey respondents were asked what their IT departments' single most important technology project is, security topped the list -- again no surprise in a year in which IT security approached a tipping point.

On-premises software was the surprise entrant on this list, curious given enterprises' continued interest in cloud computing and the "as-a-service" trend.

One explanation: As cloud platforms mature, organizations are better able to get a handle on what systems they're comfortable offloading and which they prefer to maintain in-house. 

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Computerworld

Trying out technologies

Big data/analytics leads the list of technologies that survey respondents say they are currently beta testing in their organizations. 

As Computerworld staffers discuss in this video, if the list feels a little dated, that's because there's typically a lag between when new technologies make a splash in the media and when they actually make their way into the enterprise.

To that end, analysts expect the internet of things to remain a popular pilot program for several years, as more companies begin to explore the technology.  

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Computerworld

New to the coffers

What will IT organizations be spending money on for the first time in the next 12 months? The internet of things tops the list, followed by hybrid cloud computing, platform as a service, high-performance computing and infrastructure as a service. 

In fact, all the "as a service" options combined (platform, infrastructure and software) add up to 34% of total responses.

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Computerworld

Gazing into the crystal ball

Looking a little further out, when survey respondents were asked to name the tecnology most likely to disrupt their organization in the next three to five years, big data/analytics and cloud computing/software as a service came out on top. 

Interestingly, self-service IT wasn't far behind, with 22% of total responses. As contributing writer Beth Stackpole reports in 5 disruptive technologies to track in 2017, IT managers are looking to self-service IT as a way to improve efficiency and keep head counts down as they grapple with flat or reduced budgets. 

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Computerworld

Where IT's focus lies

When asked to name the goal of their single most important technology project, survey respondents cited increased productivity, security and customer experience as their top 3 picks.

As contributing writer Julia King reports in IT sharpens its focus, 2017 is shaping up for many organizations to be the year of the customer, which means IT in turn will be charged with deploying technologies that allow the business to fine-tune and deepen relations with its customer base.  

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Computerworld

IT taking the lead

When asked what their single biggest leadership challenge would be in the coming 12 months, survey respondents chose security and budget constraints as their top two picks. 

How to reconcile those competing challenges? Some IT managers are turning to security outsourcing to fill in knowledge gaps and bring in expertise quickly without increasing head count. 

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Computerworld

A solid B for cloud computing efforts

When asked to assign a letter grade to their efforts to return business value via cloud computing, 43% of respondents gave their organizations a B, indicating, "We're getting good business value from our cloud efforts," while 31% graded their efforts with a C, meaning "We're gaining some business value, despite some roadblocks." 

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Computerworld

Bs and Cs for progress on digital transformation

Progress toward digital transformation is a mixed bag for many survey respondents, the majority of whom gave their efforts either a B ("We're well into the process") or C ("We're keeping pace, despite some roadblocks"). 

Just six percent of those responding gave their companies an A, indicating, "We're ahead of the curve." 

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Computerworld

Wait and see for IoT?

Despite much buzz and many pilot projects, a majority of survey respondents (56%) are not planning on launching an internet of things project in the next 12 months. 

As we report in 5 disruptive technologies to track in 2017, corporate IT shops seem to be taking a measured approach to IoT, pursuing pilot projects in lieu of full-out deployments -- a strategy that seems prudent in light of incidents like the device-driven DDoS attack in October that knocked out a significant portion of the internet.

Want even more insights into the year ahead? Don't miss our free download of the Tech Forecast 2017 complete survey results.