Skip to content

COVID-19 budgets, data security, and automation are concerns of IT leaders and staff

Dueling surveys from Kaseya showed that IT department leaders share their underlings’ worries about security and productivity.

IT technician with network equipment and cables

Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto

More for CXOs

IT infrastructure and security management company Kaseya have released a two-part report featuring insights gleaned from surveys of both IT leaders and IT practitioners. The two reports—”Technical Priorities for IT Practitioners” and “Strategic Priorities for IT Leaders”–show that members of both sides of IT departments share broad concerns on a variety of issues including data protection and security

The researchers behind the study spoke with 878 respondents in July 2020, more than 500 of whom were IT practitioners and 335 were IT leaders. According to the survey responses, IT leaders are more concerned with ensuring that operations are always up and running amid coronavirus-related budget shortages, while the managers and technicians working daily with technology are more focused on maintaining productivity using limited resources.

“Our 2020 IT Operations survey makes it clear that IT leaders and practitioners are trying to do as much as they can today with far fewer resources than usual,” said Mike Puglia, chief strategy officer at Kaseya. 

“Understanding the new challenges that IT leaders and practitioners will face in 2021, we are committed to continuing to evolve and improve the solutions we make available to manage and solve those challenges.”

SEE: TechRepublic Premium editorial calendar: IT policies, checklists, toolkits, and research for download (TechRepublic Premium)

Data protection and security were something both sides of the IT coin could agree on, with both leaders and employees highlighting the startling increase in cyberattacks since the onset of the pandemic and the need for more focus on protecting organizational data. 

According to the survey, “Improving IT security” was the top priority in 2020 for more than half of IT practitioners and 60% of IT leaders. “Cybersecurity and data protection” was listed as the biggest challenge cited by more than half of both groups.

Despite the concerns about cybersecurity, 63% of IT practitioner respondents said their enterprises have had no cyberattacks or breaches in three years. 

The two sides separate on the issue of funding for IT departments. More than 30% of IT leaders are very concerned about being able to manage the increase in tasks and importance in light of potentially decreased budgets. 

“Most IT Leader respondents have allocated less than 10 percent of resources to various areas of IT. However, the results indicate a certain section of respondents allocating more resources to IT security and IT support,” the report said. “Nearly half of IT Leader respondents have allocated 11 percent to 30 percent of resources to IT support and help desk, while one-quarter have allocated another 11 percent to 30 percent to IT security.”

SEE: SEE: TechRepublic Premium editorial calendar: IT policies, checklists, toolkits, and research for download (TechRepublic Premium)

While 73% of IT leaders said they expected budgets to either increase or stay the same, lower-level IT workers reported facing issues with patching remote, off-network devices. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it a wide array of challenges, as many more employees are working remotely long term. This has resulted in IT technicians all over the world dealing with managing remote, off-network systems, providing and maintaining secure remote connections such as VPNs, and keeping work from home users’ computers patched,” the report said. 

“The need to protect IT systems has never been as crucial as it is now. About half of the IT Practitioner respondents cited ‘Cybersecurity and data protection’ as their biggest current challenge. Nearly one-third of the respondents are also struggling to meet current demands due to IT budget and resource constraints. This is a perennial problem for both IT Leaders and practitioners. The pandemic has accelerated the need for digital transformation, which technicians have had to accommodate, at times with fewer staff and smaller budgets.”

One solution that both sides are eager to test out is automation, which is increasingly becoming necessary for many security teams. The deluge in alerts and increase in attacks has made it nearly impossible for small IT teams to handle the workload foisted upon those tasked with protecting organizations. 

IT workers said automation would increase their productivity and help solve a key goal of IT leaders, namely reducing IT costs. For 2021, 60% of IT leaders said automation was a technology they planned to invest in, and 38% of IT workers said “automation of IT processes” was necessary for any endpoint management solution.

Researchers with Kaseya have been conducting the survey for five years but this is the first time they’ve split the surveys and resulting reports into two. The respondents that were IT practitioners were mostly from North America and were working in sectors like education, healthcare, and manufacturing. 

The report also goes into things IT teams are now striving to get a better handle on, like updated patches. 

“Three-fourths of IT Practitioner respondents regularly scan their servers and workstations for operating system patches. More than half (58 percent) apply critical operating system patches within 30 days of release. Only about 45 percent have automated patch management,” the report said. 

“Only 36 percent apply critical patches for third-party apps within 30 days of release—this exposes companies to higher security risk. Automated patch management would help IT teams meet this objective. Less than a third of respondents can patch remote, off-network devices which means that many companies are putting their business at risk due to the prevalence of work-from-home employees.”

Also see