Winter may be coming, but IT budgets are already freezing - as difficult economic circumstances, technical woes, and increased workloads pile yet more pressure on already stretched and understaffed IT teams.
The headlines in past weeks have been clear: recruitment and retention challenges, coupled with what the Bank of England predicts will be the UK's longest recession to date, means business leaders are increasingly being expected to make more out of less.
During this difficult period, it's important to understand how these combined pressures are affecting IT departments and their teams - and to learn how they are using technology to reduce some of these pressures. This is why SnapLogic commissioned research into a sample of 350 IT decision-makers in the USA and a further 350 in the UK.
The results revealed the scale of the problem. Eighty-seven percent of IT decision makers across the UK feel their workload has increased in the past six months, and 59% say they either plan to or already have decreased their IT budget.
The top three biggest demands on respondents' time were: integrating new applications and platforms (47%), managing legacy systems (40%), and dealing with problems caused by ‘shadow IT' (40%).
The good news is that respondents are managing their workload by recruiting or training additional staff (50.9%), investing in AI and automation technologies to eliminate manual work (53.7%), and empowering non-IT users to take on routine technology tasks for themselves (52.9%)
The bad news is that a third (33.7%) of respondents are managing their workload by deprioritising or cancelling projects.
What does this mean?
It is clear that across the UK and US, business leaders are having to make tough decisions in tough circumstances and this is unfortunately at the expense of the IT department, with over half of surveyed IT decision-makers reducing or planning to reduce their budgets.
Budget reductions don't just mean cancelled projects and delays but also increased workloads and reduced resources for employees. This has a direct impact on workplace stress and employee burnout, as staff who are already being asked to go above and beyond are being asked to make further commitments and yet more sacrifices.
This is particularly worrying considering the impact it may have on employee mental health. Recent news suggests many skilled employees are making their discontent known, with talent retention and "quiet-quitting" becoming two of the biggest issues to employers today.
The fact that the top three biggest demands on employees' time are all manual clean-up tasks is also a serious area of concern, as it shows that IT staff are being overloaded with mundane, repetitive work.
What can be done?
In order to survive the economic downturn, businesses must be proactive.
As businesses in all sectors adapt and plan for a high-inflation, low-growth economy, they will lean heavily on data insights to inform their decision-making - but over a quarter of respondents in our survey said they will struggle to deliver these insights to the C-suite.
Business leaders must therefore take steps to ensure their tools and data work for them and that their skilled IT staff have the agility to provide the intelligence and analysis that business leaders require.
Once employees are more agile and able to manage their workloads they can provide genuine value to the organisation and accelerate themselves, their careers and the business as a whole.
The first step to this is automation. Automating manual, repetitive tasks can vastly improve a businesses agility.
Take, for example, integrating new applications and platforms, which survey respondents told us was the biggest drain on their time. If this was automated using powerful modern intelligent integration solutions, both the business and IT departments would benefit.
With nearly half of respondents already using AI, ML, automation, or self-service IT to supplement skill sets, speed up processes, or facilitate collaboration between teams, businesses are clearly looking to proactive solutions, although not consistently - suggesting that there is still room for improvement.
Indeed, low-code/no-code technology in particular was the least-used option, suggesting that businesses could be missing a crucial trick that can allow them to further enable non-IT users to solve their own problems.
By utilising these self-service models, IT can free up their workloads whilst business users benefit from the ability to empower themselves and their teams.
Ultimately, our research has shown that there are serious issues across businesses that must be addressed if they are to avoid overworking and under-resourcing their IT staff.
The current work life of an IT leader is one of too many tasks, too few resources and too little time.
The key to change is proactivity amongst business leaders, adopting automation technology that can augment skilled workers with tools that can make their lives easier; as well as handrailed self-service models that can empower business users to accelerate themselves whilst remaining tethered to the rest of the organisation.
If a business is to become agile enough to survive a further worsening economy, it must address these issues now before it is too late.
This post was funded by SnapLogic