It’s been another wild year and the world has shown us that if one thing is certain, it’s that pretty much everything is uncertain.
In the ups and downs of the past few years, we’ve witnessed every business become a digital business – everyone has to be able to be online, everywhere, at all times, or the business can’t make money. The stakes have been raised: an outage can mean existential threat.
Most businesses have realized the risk, and the result is that IT teams have a closer seat at the table than ever before when it comes to long-term business strategy and success.
But how do IT operations teams best plan for the business in uncertain times?
While the next year is sure to throw some curveballs, there are some trends we’re hedging our bets on in 2022. Buckle up and read on for the top seven tech predictions from our team at Automox.
1. The Great Divide: Where We Work Greatly Affects Company Culture...and Business Success
It’s impossible to ignore the conversations around remote/hybrid/distributed work because they so deeply affect all of us. In 2022, we’ll see a firm line drawn and a division into two camps.
The first is hybrid work, where companies allow folks to work outside of the office two to three days a week. “In this model, employees are asked to take their office and their working hours home with them. You still have the commute, the office space, the days you must go to the office when your child is sick. In addition, every meeting is rife with inequitable communication between virtual and in-person participants that changes daily,” says Automox CEO, Jay Prassl.
The second camp is distributed work, where companies fully dissolve their office space and allow employees to work from wherever they choose. “This puts pressure on methods of collaboration, communication, and employee onboarding, yet allows companies to work with the best employees wherever they are geographically. Headquarters are dissolved, putting every employee on a level playing field. Companies are free to invest in intentional gatherings that bring people/teams together to build the valuable relationships that make a company thrive,” says Jay.
2. Protecting Productivity Falls on the Shoulders of IT
Prior to COVID, companies were pretty skeptical of remote work. Could an employee be productive away from the office? Could we trust our employees to put in the hours?
The past two years gave us no choice but to experiment with this theory. Between the second quarter of 2020 and the second quarter of 2021 labor productivity increased by 1.8 percent, compared with an average annual increase of 1.4 percent from 2005 to 2019.
The conversation has now completely shifted away from full-time in the office to remote and hybrid models. “In this context, an issue with your laptop reduces your productivity to zero. You can no longer drop your device to IT, get a loaner or just go to a meeting without it. What can we do to make sure these devices are safe, up to date, used efficiently, and refreshed proactively? That’s the question we will all need to answer,” says Pascal Borghino, VP of Engineering & Architect.
3. Compliance Does Not Equal Security...Except it Kind of Does Now
While it’s a common saying that compliance does not equal security, if done correctly, adopting standards like NIST and CIS, or achieving certifications like SOC or ISO, gives every organization a solid security foundation to build upon. At the end of the day, compliance requirements are generally a good impetus for putting the practices in place that will set you up for a better security outcome in the event you’re attacked.
“In the last year, following breaches like Solarwinds, Colonial Pipeline, and Kaseya, we have seen a dramatic uptick in focus on supply chain and third-party risk. This coming year, we will see even more adoption of compliance frameworks as a standard to do business, and with that added focus, a dire need for automation, remediation, and reporting,” says Chris Hass, Director of Security.
4. ITOps’ Strain is MSPs’ Gain
As more and more organizations (both new organizations and non-digital industries) evolve their digital presence, we’ll see a massive shortage in IT professionals globally. IT teams are already spread thin and the ongoing digital transition will lead to highly competitive hiring and dramatic growth in managed service providers (MSPs).
“MSPs have long been a tool to manage IT infrastructure for organizations, and 2022 will be no different. The big shift will be an increasing number of mid-commercial to mid-enterprise that begin to use MSPs as an augmentation to their existing IT teams as hiring becomes a problem. Teams will also take advantage of automation more than ever before as a way to cope in the short term while transitioning the way IT operations is done in the long term,” says Jay Goodman, Director of Product Marketing.
5. Say Goodbye to “Collecting” Data
Data is the cornerstone of IT intelligence and companies need to make decisions faster. “We can no longer afford to waste cycles collecting data to answer business questions. The answer should come within minutes, which means the data need to already be there ready to process,” says Pascal.
So which business questions should you have answers for, readily available at your fingertips? At the very least consider these:
- How compliant am I?
- Am I at risk? Am I exposed?
- Do I have inefficiencies?
- Is my employees' productivity impacted by third-parties?
- What am I not looking at?
- How do I compare to the industry?
- Is my IT strategy adapted to today's needs?
6. ITOps Starts to Catch SecOps
In early 2020, we saw SecOps teams start their transition away from on-premise tools. As they continue to wind down on legacy tools, firewalls, CASB, web gateways, and other tools will see a transition to cloud infrastructure, too.
“As longer-term contracts for SecOps tools come due over the next 12-18 months, we’ll see the next big wave for consolidation and transformation of tools to the cloud for SecOps. And once this is done, focus will turn in earnest to ITOps tools and how organizations can leverage them to realize the gains seen from SecOps over the past five years,” says Jay Goodman.
Automox’s Vice President of Product, Paul Zimski, adds a caveat, however. He advises that “modernizing IT will counterintuitively require that companies stop being digital-first – rather they will need to be business-first. Digital investments need to show increased efficiencies and business outcomes first and foremost. Not just buzz-word hyperbole.”
7. Employee Mental Health and Safety Solutions Matter for IT Teams
The pandemic has identified many gaps in how we protect infrastructure and optimize IT, but what about the mental health of employees? This is a sensitive topic, but the reality is that businesses must emphasize the health and performance of their IT teams in the same way they do their IT infrastructure.
“Mental health and safety at work have become increasingly top-of-mind for organizations, yet today there are few solutions that can offer peer-reviewed, scientifically-validated insight into employee mental health status. Beyond immunization tracking tools for governmental mandates, behavioral tracking solutions do exist but are mostly oriented toward employee productivity, loathed by end-users as intrusive and an invasion of privacy. This need will only continue to become more prevalent as the long-term impacts of the pandemic are still largely unknown and variant-based risks continue to be assessed,” says Nicholas Colyer, Staff Product Manager.
Our Advice: Take Your Seat at the Table
In addition to it being a common time to plan and prepare for what’s next, the end of the year is also a great time to pause for some introspection.
Our key takeaway from 2021? The role of ITOps is finally getting some of the credit it deserves as a key contributor to overall business success. Your role is fundamentally important – for productivity, security, and your organization’s bottom line.
There’s a lot we as an industry can and should do to capitalize on the opportunity of having a valuable seat at the table. How will you make your mark in 2022?
About Automox for IT Operations
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