UK survey reveals current priorities and challenges in the IT sector

UK survey reveals current priorities and challenges in the IT sector

It is always interesting to know what your peers are doing. Are they experiencing the challenges in the IT sector that you are, are they doing things you have not thought of, or are you ahead of the curve? Earlier this year we surveyed a group of UK IT decision-makers to understand the challenges they are facing and their priorities for the year ahead. Here, we introduce the report’s findings with the opportunity to download a copy of the survey for yourself.


Like most years, this one began with a slew of surveys outlining ‘CIOs’ priorities’. While these make interesting reading, some can seem a little removed from the immediate concerns of the typical UK IT team. Often these surveys are focused on large enterprises and multi-national corporations. Respondents are in America and/or spread throughout EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa), where differing environmental factors may be at work. We wanted to find out what is important to IT leaders in typical UK organisations.

To understand the issues and concerns affecting IT in the UK we surveyed a group of IT decision-makers in organisations, of predominantly between 50 and 2,500 employees, across a wide range of sectors. We asked them about business confidence, budgets, IT recruitment, digital transformation, and their challenges and spending priorities.


Challenges in the IT sector: pre-pandemic stability and post-pandemic strain

Before the pandemic, the UK enjoyed a period of economic stability and predictability. Interest rates had been under 1% since 2009 and inflation had been under 4%, and mostly under 3%, since the early 1990s. But post-pandemic it has been a different story. Are economic factors affecting IT and if so, in what way and how much?

Though it is good to see a high level of confidence in business growth, most respondents are seeing a reduction in IT expenditure. Only a fifth (22%) have seen an increase in their IT budgets, while 28% have a reduced budget. The majority (41%) have a static budget, which with double-digit inflation, is effectively a budget decrease.

We also looked at the impact that the UK’s ‘persistently tight’ labour market (source: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) Quarterly Labour Market Outlook) is having on IT vacancies, and you can read more about that in the report download.

If we look back at 2019/20 surveys of CIO priorities, we might have seen growing interest in digital or IT transformation, but it was far from being a mainstream priority. On 23rd March 2020, the UK entered its first lockdown. Overnight transformation became the priority for everyone, and IT teams focused on rapidly enabling home working.

Transformation is about much more than that, but as Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella observed, “We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months.” For many organisations, that period of frantic activity became the springboard to further, more measured phases of work, aimed at integrating digital technologies to improve customer and stakeholder value.

So, we were keen to understand how widespread and how complete transformation work is. We found that 40% of respondents have not undertaken a digital transformation programme yet, with less than half of those planning to commence this year. Amongst those who had completed transformation work, 82% were not completely satisfied with it: either recognising that ‘there’s room for some improvement’ or that ‘it could be greatly improved’.

There is scope for further investigation here and it would be good to understand the causes of dissatisfaction: was it the strategy, the technologies chosen, implementation, usage/adoption, or something else?


How technology rises to challenges in the IT sector

We also looked at respondents’ main IT challenges, as well as which IT solutions and services they are investing in. It is no surprise that IT security was both their biggest challenge and the most common area for investment. Looking deeper there is a lot of interesting detail in the responses, and more than we can do justice to within an overview blog but you can view detailed information in the survey report yourselves.

However, we can summarise the common challenges as being related to transformation, IT productivity/costs, quality of service and reliability, improving management and support, and addressing resourcing challenges.


Challenges in the IT sector: are you facing shifting priorities?

The challenges outlined above might read like a familiar story to you and your organisation. To find out in greater detail what we discovered from peers and professionals across a variety of industries, download a copy of the survey report now.

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