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Are we (finally) getting the skills?

Clearly not everyone spent lockdown day drinking, as SolarWinds annual IT Pro Day Survey has revealed IT pros actually gained confidence (could’ve been the day drinking) and new skills amidst the pandemic.

The findings from SolarWinds IT Pro Day 2020 survey ‘You were built for this’ explores IT professionals’ journeys throughout Covid-19, how their responsibilities shifted in response to this unprecedented event, and how they envision the role of IT evolving in the future.

The survey supports IT Professionals Day, which is observed on the third Tuesday of every September (September 15, 2020), and aims to celebrate all IT pros and recognise the expanding range of technologies they manage and rapid pace of change they face.

This year’s findings revealed nearly two-thirds (64%) of surveyed IT pros were instilled with a new sense of confidence, despite contending with challenges such as reduced budgets, greater decision-making responsibilities, and longer hours caused by their organisations’ response to the pandemic.

Likewise, just under half (46%) feel empowered to bring more ideas to the table while 58% say they now feel more prepared to succeed in similar unexpected situations.

“The success of organisations during this unique time is due in large part to IT pros’ preparedness and inherent ability to adapt and manage through substantial change,” said Rani Johnson, chief information officer, SolarWinds.

“2020 – and the unexpected Covid-19 pandemic – is proof positive IT pros are built for moments like these. What’s particularly encouraging is IT pros’ perception and expectation IT will be included in more business-level decision-making moving forward.

“The dedication of IT pros around the world to ensuring business resiliency and continuity over the past several months serves to elevate and empower the IT community to work alongside business leaders to meet bigger organisational goals.”

This newfound self-confidence, combined with IT pros’ achievements during this time, will completely transform how IT is viewed by the business in the future.

IT may earn a more prominent voice in the C-suite, as 40% of surveyed IT pros believe they will now be involved in more business-level meetings. Likewise, IT’s role will be up-leveled due to the vast upskilling more than a quarter (26%) of IT pros underwent during this experience.

With 31% admitting there’s a need to rethink internal processes to better accommodate the rapid change of pace required post-Covid, it’s highly likely a focus on IT pros’ upskilling will continue into the future.

“As always, with new responsibilities comes the need for new skills. While almost half of survey respondents felt they received the training required to adapt to changing IT requirements, nearly one-third experienced the opposite, and are at risk of being left behind as IT teams continue to grapple with how best to support the new normal,” said Johnson.

“At SolarWinds, we understand that for IT pros to reach their potential requires sufficient tools, resources, training, and budget. We aim to provide IT pros what they need to tackle the challenges in front of them head-on.”

“We hope this new normal, one that sees IT departments align more closely with the C-suite, will bring with it even more support for IT pros—and make their jobs easier as they continue on their journey to supporting business continuity.”

The IT Pro Day 2020 survey polled global technology professionals who participate in SolarWind’s THWACK user community of over 150,000 registered members.

How has Covid-19 shaped the tech pro’s day-to-day?

Those surveyed said they’d gained an increased sense of confidence in their expanded roles, responsibilities, and ability to adapt to unexpected change in the future, despite contending with more challenging working conditions over the course of the pandemic.

Respondents said longer work hours due to stretched teams (29%), more responsibility (28%) and decision-making requirements (28%), and a general increase in job-related stress (22%) were the leading ways in which day-to-day roles evolved in response to the impact of Covid-19.

Still, almost two-thirds (64%) agreed this experienceincluding changes to their day-to-day taskshas given them a new sense of confidence in managing unprecedented change.

46% said the work they accomplished has empowered them to bring new ideas to the table, whilst 58% said they now feel more prepared to succeed in any similar unprecedented situations in the future. Another 29% reported feeling prepared to manage change but require additional resources, training, and support. 

Upskilling the current workforce

The implications of Covid-19 have been a catalyst in accelerating IT pros’ ongoing efforts to upskill in critical competencies, such as systems management, network management, and security policy and compliance.

Over a quarter (26%) of IT pros said it was necessary to learn new skills to support their organisations’ transitions to a remote workforce. With the top skills considered most important for development:

  • Systems management (55%)
  • Network management (50%)
  • Security policy and compliance (43%)
  • Hybrid IT monitoring/management tools and metrics (28%)

47% said they received the training they needed to learn these new skills; however, a quarter (25%) are still waiting for those training resources to be made available.

The breadth of skills IT pros needed during this time shows how silos are disappearing, as roles start to blur together.

In fact, as explored in the SolarWinds IT Trends Report 2020: The Universal Language of IT, today there is more crossover between traditional roles than there has ever been before and we will continue to see these lines blur until most silos are completely gone.

In the coming months, IT organisations must undergo technology, process, and team transformations to accommodate the new IT requirements associated with extended remote-work scenarios post-pandemic.

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