The only constant in the world right now seems to be change, and at JumpCloud®, we know how important it is to keep a finger on the pulse of the IT industry amidst it all. An important part of staying in the loop involves regularly talking to and surveying small to medium-sized enterprise (SME) IT professionals to get a feel for their problems, priorities, and needs at different moments in time.
To stay on top of this, in December of 2021, JumpCloud commissioned the 2022 SME IT Trends Survey from Propeller Insights. 509 U.S.-based and 503 U.K.-based professionals in a variety of IT-bound roles were surveyed, each from an organization with 2,500 or fewer employees. JumpCloud also hosted a 2022 IT trends webinar, discussing the survey results in more depth — featuring our own Technical Champion Benjamin Garrison as well as Joshua Reynolds, founder and CEO of Rob Roy Consulting.
In this article, we will highlight the top eight IT trends that we pulled from the survey. This is a great opportunity to compare them against what’s happening in your own organization right now, and use these insights to plan ahead, adjust your priorities, negotiate more budget, and more.
1. Adjusting to the New Normal
While dissecting the results of the survey, we found that fewer IT professionals were feeling overwhelmed compared to the beginning of 2021 when the unknowns still heavily outweighed the knowns. We also found that respondents are either happier now or just as happy with their job compared to how they felt in January of 2021. Happiness and stress seem to be moving in the right direction, and this is likely due to continued acclimation to the new normal that the COVID-19 pandemic forced upon us.
As time goes on, in 2022 and beyond, we expect to see these levels continue to move in a positive direction. At this point, many organizations have taken steps to help the IT department deal with remote work, security, compliance, productivity, and more; or, at the very least these things are on the docket for 2022.
We also found that more than 76.3% of those surveyed believe that decision-makers listen to their recommendations, which is critical for happiness and the success levels of the IT team’s initiatives. This trend is expected to continue through 2022 as decision-makers realign priorities and bring IT in to discuss the best steps for moving forward.
2. Budget Increases
The survey found that 75.1% of budgets increased in 2021, and 77.3% are expected to increase in 2022. What’s more, the majority of IT professionals surveyed agreed that their IT budget is adequate to meet their organization’s needs. Although the majority of those surveyed agreed that the budget is adequate, 29.8% think that their organization is spending too much on enabling and securing remote work.
Because of this, we expect to see a portion of the 2022 IT budget go toward IT tool consolidation, and more specifically, tools that lessen the workload on IT with automation and provide security features. With the proper tools in place, enabling and securing remote work doesn’t have to be tedious or costly. Consolidation may even lead to lower costs in the long-run, eating up less of the budget compared to utilizing a handful of disparate tools.
Overall, in 2022, we expect to see more of the IT budget going toward things that make day-to-day life easier, improve the user experience, and provide the security and compliance levels that IT is looking for.
3. 2022: The Year of the MSP
63.1% of those surveyed already work with a managed service provider (MSP), and 23.3% that don’t work with one already are actively considering it. Further, we received a large spread of answers regarding how big an organization needs to be before bringing on an MSP, which tells us that individual organizations have very different needs and expectations, which substantially broadens the target market for MSPs.
From the survey, we gathered that the top three reasons that organizations choose to work with an MSP are:
- They are up to date on the latest technologies.
- They can provide a better user experience.
- They are cost-effective.
However, there are looming concerns around how MSPs manage security, so this is a good opportunity for MSPs to promote their services by focusing on a security and compliance theme. With over 20% of respondents already actively considering using an MSP and the market for MSPs widening, we expect to see MSP adoption increase over the course of 2022.
4. A Heavy Focus on User Experience
Almost 90% of those surveyed said they consider employee experience to be an important factor when purchasing IT solutions. A variety of factors can negatively affect the user experience such as tool sprawl and complicated or fragmented processes. A relentless pursuit of enhanced security and compliance can hurt the employee experience if it’s not actively considered when making IT decisions.
In line with that, a majority of respondents also said that their remote/hybrid experience has room for improvement. In 2020 and even 2021, organizations frantically shifted their working models from one end of the spectrum (in-office) to the other (fully remote and now hybrid). This meant that IT tools were chosen quickly just to keep processes from falling apart; whereas now, organizations can take a step back and reassess their needs and decide if the tool stack they have is aligned with them.
If the user experience is suffering and IT can make recommendations on how to fix that, we expect to see process and software changes to streamline practices that provide a more unified user experience.
5. IT Tool Consolidation
When asked about IT software and solutions, only 25.4% of respondents reported using 1-2 tools to manage identities, access, and devices. The rest — 75.6% of respondents — reported using either 3+ tools or none at all, leaving everything unmanaged.
For those that reported using 3 or more tools, this amount of sprawl can have a negative impact on users as well as the IT team. Too many tools can be overwhelming and frustrating for users and IT to deal with. It can also create new vulnerabilities and increase risk, because trying to integrate too many separate tools may leave gaps that can quickly cause damage to the organization if left alone.
On top of that, significant tool sprawl adds up quickly and rapidly eats up IT budget if left unchecked — it’s often better to find one tool that does the job of multiple to avoid unnecessary spend. Over two-thirds of respondents even told us that they would prefer to use a single tool to do their job versus a handful of different solutions. Due to all of this, a trend we expect to see in 2022 is IT consolidation wherever possible.
6. Finding Better Tools for Managing and Securing Remote Workers
In the survey, 62.5% of respondents told us that they either have employees working remotely full time, or they have a hybrid work model. Consequently, when asked about the top three biggest challenges their IT teams have faced since the start of the pandemic, all three answers ended up being related to remote work. The top three challenges are:
- Ongoing management of remote workers.
- Migrating all workers to fully or partially remote work.
- Device management.
Based on these challenges, 2022 budget increases, a push for IT tool consolidation, and a focus on a better user experience, we expect to see improvements in both IT process and tool selection. More specifically, a trend we expect to see throughout 2022 and beyond is the adoption of all-in-one IT tools that simplify the management of devices, remote and in-office user identities, and resource access.
7. Improving Device Management
Device management is a long-standing issue for organizations of all types and sizes, and the popularization of remote work added an entirely new layer to it. Survey respondents cited device management in the top three biggest challenges facing their IT team since the beginning of the pandemic, and it’s pretty easy to see why. Not only is there a mix of device types and operating systems used in many IT environments, but there’s also the bring your own device (BYOD) trend.
In the survey, we had IT professionals rank their top security priorities, and “easier management of user devices” moved up on the priority list from a year prior. In 2022, we expect to see an increase in adoption of comprehensive device management tools, as well as the establishment of remote work policies and BYOD policies.
8. A Push for Zero Trust
Now that IT has the attention of decision-makers, budgets are increasing, and security is top of mind, the final trend we expect to see in 2022 is a push for Zero Trust security. Over 80% of survey respondents stated that remote/hybrid work has increased their organization’s focus on security, but many also think that remote work makes it harder for employees to follow good security practices.
This means that organizations are trying to find new ways to pursue security that can be pushed to all types of devices, wherever users are. Zero Trust security embodies the “trust nothing, verify everything” principle, and it’s a great strategy for remote users and device security management.
Almost 60% of survey respondents said they are pursuing or plan to pursue a Zero Trust security approach in 2022. A general focus on improving security is expected to continue throughout the year and beyond as organizations continue to decide what level of security they need across identities, access, and devices.
2022: Moving Forward in IT
2020 and 2021 were years filled with unknowns causing organizations to scramble to change processes and buy tools to support remote work while budgets were in flux. By now, many of us have gotten into the swing of things by adapting to the new version of the world we live in, creating new workflows, and finding better ways to support others in the workplace.
In 2022, we expect to see IT use these trends to create a new normal that aligns with their values and makes going to work every day more enjoyable. Rather than simply reacting to events, it’s time to take proactive steps toward a better work environment for IT professionals all over the world, and these trends will help us get there.