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The impact of COVID-19 on IT - Survey Results

Uri Nativ | 10 Sep 2020

The immediate shift to work-for-home is one of the most notable changes companies have experienced. While work-from-home was not foreign to most companies, no company has ever tried to move everyone to work from home in a matter of days while facing additional challenges created by COVID-19.

IT teams became the most critical factor of business continuity in these times of transition to working from home (WFH).

We surveyed hundreds of IT professionals to get their first hand impressions on their challenges, changes to work and the future to come. We analyzed all the data and also extracted important metrics from Torii data to present to you our findings on the impact of COVID-19 on IT.

Torii data showed an increase of 300% in the usage of communication and collaboration tools

Challenges Supporting Remote Employees

We can also see that the challenges of the employees were different from the challenges of the IT teams who had to support them.

Top 3 Challenges for Employees

The top 3 challenges for employees were:

  1. Employee Internet Problems
  2. Not Trained to Use New Tools
  3. Lacking Good Collaboration and Communication Tools

1. Employee Internet Problems

%63 of the IT exported reported that employees' number one challenge at home was internet problems.

Home internet problems were clearly the number one challenge employees faced when they moved to permanent work-from-home. Home internet problems varied from frequent disconnects, low bandwidth and high latency issues. Troubleshooting employees’ home internet problem was definitely the most challenging one for IT teams as they were forced to handle it in a very short time.

2. Not Trained to Use New Tools

41% of the respondents reported that training on new tools was one of their top urging problems to solve.

Many new collaborations tools were introduced very quickly to overcome the lack of face-2-face meeting opportunities. Not only was theCOVID-19 situation stressful for many employees, they were required to learn new tools and technologies most of them never used in the past as those tools were now their most important assets for productivity. Some of those tools were needed to be trained by IT people who had to quickly learn those tools just a few days before.

3. Lacking Good Collaboration and Communication Tools

The lack of good collaboration and communication tools were reported by 15% of the respondents.

The work style changed overnight to highly a-sync collaborative mode. Employees realized that many of the tools they used to work with in the corporate office were not suitable for remote home work. For example, accessing files on local servers, printing documents ahead of meetings, quick face-2-face synchronization between people sitting in the same room, those were all gone. Those who tried to stick to old ways of working and tools that were not designed for collaboration quickly faced a wall or inproductivity until new tools were introduced.

Top 3 Challenges for IT

The top 3 Challenges for IT employees were:

  1. Remote Device Management
  2. Employees Signing up to Software Services Without Approval
  3. On-prem Tools Needed to be Migrated to the Cloud

1. Remote Device Management

Remote device management was reported by 40% of the respondents.

Physically apart, all employees devices were now required to be managed remotely. For most IT teams this was not new as they were using remote management before. However, some tools were just not a good fit when internet bandwidth was strong enough at home or with new technical challenges like home routers with closed ports.

2. Employees Signing up to Software Services Without Approval

Employees signing up to software service without approval was reported by 31% of the respondents.

Torii data showed an increase of 15% of new tools introduced by employees

With internet problems accessing corporate on-prem tools and lacking good collaboration tools many IT teams saw a strong trend of employees signing up to software services without approval. As employees tried to find new ways to stay productive at home and the feeling that corporate governance is loose, employees quickly found the richness of SaaS tools and quickly started using them. IT teams that were not using a SaaS Management Tool quickly felt they were blind to what employees signed up to and now had to face new challenges that were brought to their doorstep.

3. On-prem Tools Needed to be Migrated to the Cloud

On-prem tools needed to be migrated to the cloud was reported by 18% of the respondents.

Companies using on-prem installations or home-grown tools quickly realized that all good reasons for keeping those tools on-prem in the first place were outweighed by the inability of those tools to handle the new remote-work for employees. Access issues, bandwidth limitations and the lack of real-time collaboration of those tools were severe drawbacks that forced IT to quickly find new solutions on how to migrate the existing tools to the cloud or finding good SaaS alternatives.

Finance, Operations and Sales Were the Most Challenging Department to Transition

IT teams reported that the top 3 departments that were the most challenging to set up for WFH were Finance (reported by 38% of the respondents), Operations (35%) and Sales (27%).

It was also clear from the survey results that the Engineering/R&D teams required far less attention and managed to solve most of their WFH problems on their own.

Bar chart - Finance, Operations and Sales Were the Most Challenging Department to Transition

 

Working too Much Time Straight

Over 60% of the IT experts reported that they found themselves working long hours without a clear separation between office hours and personal time.

Lack of social interaction (56%) was also reported as one of the top challenges IT experts faced during the first weeks of the shift to WFH.

It is interesting to note, that many people said that their cat using their keyboard as a rest area was yet another challenge they faced 😀

Working too Much Time Straight GRAPH1x

COVID-19 Impact on IT Team and BudgetCost cutting was one of the immediate actions many companies took, whether that’s reducing headcount or finding ways to save on the budget. For many IT teams, saving cost on software was their task.

92% reported that their IT budget was not reduced.

42% reported that they managed to reduce their software spend. Most of the savings were achieved by removing wasted licenses, retiring software not in use, renegotiating contracts, downgrading plans and consolidating redundant software.

About 8% reported that they managed to cut up 20% in their total software spend.

Still, 41% reported that they did continue to purchase new software. Most of those purchases were for collaboration, productivity, and remote communication tools.

Bar Chart - COVID-19 Impact on IT Team and Budget

COVID-19 on Current and Future WorkWhat Unplanned IT Changes Have You Done Due to COVID-19?

  1. Focus on purchasing and training people on new collaboration tools
  2. Tools migration allowing access from remote locations
  3. Remote employee on/offboarding

What Are The Top 3 IT Priorities For The Next 90 days?

  1. Reduce spend
  2. Transition more tools to the cloud
  3. Employee onboarding automation

What Do You Expect to Be Your Major IT Challenges or Concerns Over the Next 90 Days?

  1. Renegotiation contracts
  2. Partial transition to the office and working in an hybrid work from home/office environment
  3. Making sure that people's work environments are secure

Are You Making Plans to re-open any Offices in the Next 60 days?

When asked if there are any near term plans to reopen the office, the results were inconclusive.

Most organizations would like to go back to working from the office, but there is still a lot of uncertainty which causes them not to create any concrete short term plans.

Out of those who answered YES to the previous question, most are considering either an optional arrival to the office (35%) or staggered certain days for certain employees (31%).

Pie Chart - Are You Making Plans to re-open any Offices in the Next 60 days

What is your favorite WFH gadget?

By far, a great headset (most mentioned Bose and Sony brands) is the favorite IT WFH gadget for IT folks. Some took the extra effort to purchase a green screen to make their Zoom virtual background smooth and realistic 😀

Pie Chart - What is your favorite WFH gadget

About the Survey

Over the last 8 weeks, Torii Software Inc surveyed hundreds of IT professionals from all around the world. Target audience were IT professionals working in companies of over 100 employees, focusing mostly on companies of 500-2000 employees.

The survey included 16 questions of closed selection or free form answers. Some participants also agreed to be mentioned as contributors of the report.

About Torii

Torii's vision is to MAKE SOFTWARE MANAGEABLE.

Torii is an all-in-one SaaS management platform. Torii lets IT professionals discovery, optimize and control their organization’s SaaS usage and costs.

Our mission is to transform the way companies operate by creating autonomous IT, enabling IT to increase Velocity, Agility, and efficiency by taking IT business decisions automatically.

Credits

IT COVID-19 survey was filled by hundreds of IT experts. The following people agree to have their name mentioned and we would like to share our credit with them:

  • Chris Tucker, Senior IT Manager, Restaurant365.com
  • Alexander Alvarado, IT Manager, Think Company
  • Topher Wheeler, Head of IT, Thrive Global
  • John Kouroutzoglou, Information Security & Compliance Manager, Domain Group
  • Ariel Sakin, Sr. Director, Corporate Information Systems, Snyk
  • Tony Palombo, CorporateIT, Pivotree
  • Johnathan Brown, Apple Administrator, Kennesaw State University
  • Joshua M Banks, Computing and Apple Lab Administrator, University of Indianapolis
  • Kamran Zaheer, Desktop Support Specialist, Saint Paul College
  • Sion Beard, Chief Technology Evangelista, Nutanix
  • Shen Ming Mah, Senior IT System Administrator, Udacity Inc

Thank you all IT folks who took part in this survey, you’ve earned your SWAG!

 

SaaS-management, Cost saving

Author: Uri Nativ

Co-founder, CPO
Uri Nativ has over 19 years of software engineering experience as both an engineer and a hands-on manager. He founded the Klarna Engineering center in Tel-Aviv, holding the position of VP Engineering & Site Manager. Uri has broad experience building B2B enterprise products from his days at VMWare, EMC, nLayers, and Sanctum.
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