JumpCloud Inc. has announced the findings from its Q2 2023 small to medium-sized enterprise (SME) IT Trends Report, “Flexibility and Ingenuity: What’s Powering Small and Medium-Sized Enterprise IT Management in 2023.”
The report provides updated survey results and new findings to the company’s biannual SME IT Trends Report first released in June 2021. The latest edition of the report shows that just after SMEs successfully established the new workplace normal following the pandemic, significant turbulence in the greater macroeconomic environment has threatened to upend the system again.
Instead of lockdowns and supply chain shortages, businesses now deal with layoffs and recession fears on top of external threats growing in sophistication, regulatory and compliance pressures heating up, and increasingly complex IT tool sprawl.
CEO Rajat Bhargava says JumpCloud commissioned this biannual survey of SME IT admins to gain unique insights into the day-to-day experiences of IT professionals who power and secure operations without enterprise-level budgets and staff. The most recent survey results, polled from admins in the US, UK, and France, highlight that while IT teams are successfully managing the workplace, they need an IT environment built around an open directory platform.
Bhargav says that while 77% of SME IT admins want a single tool to do their job, organizations continue to force them to use many more. Consolidating tools shifts an enormous tech burden off of IT admins who are already overworked and overwhelmed with job responsibilities. Admins can leverage technology to manage a complicated, frustrating, and time-intensive process, he adds.
“Modern IT management is a balance of responding to current needs while remaining nimble enough to adapt to the unknown. Flexibility, ingenuity, and innovation have never been more critical for those in the IT trenches,” says Bhargav. “Admins want convenience and centralized management, as shown by the 77% that agree or strongly agree that they would prefer a single solution/tool to do their jobs. Admins are hungry for an open IT approach that delivers on this promise, an approach that unifies and centralizes identity and allows organizations to scale while solving efficiency, complexity, and cost challenges.”
The results of the JumpCloud Q2 2023 SME IT Trends Report are available in JumpCloud’s e-book, “Flexibility and Ingenuity: What’s Powering Small and Medium-Sized Enterprise IT Management in 2023,” which can be downloaded for free here.
Key findings include:
- Budgets have continued to rise despite macroeconomic conditions. 80% have seen IT budgets increase over the past year. 13% have seen an increase of over 20%. 64% expect their IT budget to increase over the second half of 2023. Only 9% expect their IT budgets to decrease.
- IT admins haven’t been immune to layoffs. 30% of all surveyed admins reported their organization had gone through layoffs within the last six months. The layoffs were more acute in the US, where 40% of US admins reported layoffs. In terms of coming layoffs, 77% of all admins anticipate more layoffs, in line with 78% of US-only admins who anticipate the same.
- Admins are more confident than not about maintaining their budgets. Only 35% of SME IT admins believe their organizations will cut spending on cybersecurity this year, and 49% believe there will not be cuts.
- Security is the biggest challenge for IT in 2023. 59% report it as the biggest challenge, followed distantly by new services and application rollouts (43%) and the cost of remote work solutions (43%). 49% of admins agree that they’re more concerned about their organization’s security posture now than they were six months ago.
- Security spending is seen as directly tied to organizational vulnerability. 68% of admins think that any cuts to their security budget will increase organizational risk.
- External threats cause the most concern. When asked about the biggest security concerns, network attacks topped the list (38%), followed by ransomware (33%), software vulnerability exploits (27%), and use of unsecured networks (25%).
- IT admins have faith in employees’ security hygiene in a hybrid model. 73% agree or strongly agree that remote workers are better at following best security practices than they were a year ago. Only 9% disagree.
- Additional security is seen to add friction. 60% of SME admins agree that additional security measures generally mean a more cumbersome experience. In the US, 70% of SME IT admins agree.
- Biometrics top the list for security and convenience. 31% report that biometrics is the most secure form of multi-factor authentication (MFA), followed by one-time passcodes texted to a mobile device (26%), and a verification app (24%). 80% of SME IT admins use biometrics to secure personal devices. Of those, face recognition (73%) and fingerprint readers (79%) are the most popular, with voice recognition used by 35%.
- Over half of SMEs use biometrics for authentication. 55% say biometrics are required for employee authentication.
- Biometrics are most popular in the US. 69% of US SMEs require biometrics for employee authentication, up from 59% in April of 2022. In the UK, 55% of SMEs require biometrics, and 42% of French SMEs.
- Nearly half of workers have returned to the office. 49% of workers are back in their office, with 34% working in a hybrid model and 21% working remotely.
- IT admins want convenience and centralized management. 77% agree or strongly agree that they would prefer a single solution/tool to do their jobs versus managing a number of different solutions.
- Software licensing costs continue to increase. Almost one-third (31%) spend 25-50% of their budget on software licensing, and for 13%, licensing takes up 50% or more of their budget. 87% report increases in licensing and subscription prices.
- IT admins are juggling a lot of tools. A plurality (44%) need three to seven applications to enable employees to do their job and 29% of admins need eight to 12 applications. 5% need more than 19 applications.
- Microsoft Active Directory (AD) is widely used but IT admins are amenable to migrating off of it. 63% of SME IT admins use AD or Azure AD, but of those, 62% agree they would replace AD/AAD with something more user-friendly and flexible if they could. The most common frustrations with AD or AAD are: understanding licensing (42%), restrictions on which tools it can support and integrate with (42%), navigating the UI and processes (40%), and requirements around legacy tools (37%).
- IT admins are keeping an eye on UX. 84% of all surveyed admins agree that user (employee) experience is an important factor in making IT purchasing decisions.
- Personal device use is popular among SME IT admins. 62% say they use their personal device to access work-related IT resources and perform work-related tasks. In the US, personal device use is even higher (75%).
- Heterogenous device environments are most common. The breakdown of device type across all surveyed SME admins was 64% Windows, 20% macOS, and 16% Linux.
- Windows use is expected to increase the most. 46% expect Windows device use to increase, followed by 33% and 26% expecting macOS and Linux increases respectively.
- Passwords play a central role. 64% of SMEs use an organization-wide password management tool or software, and 10% plan to implement one this year. For those who don’t use password management, cost is the biggest factor, with 46% reporting it isn’t a spending priority and 23% reporting the cost would be too high.
Life of an IT Admin
- Overall, IT admins are happier in their job than a year ago. 57% agree or strongly agree that they are happier in their job than a year ago. 30% have the same level of happiness and 13% disagree that they are happier.
- US admins are happier now than a year ago. In the US, 71% of admins report being happier in their job than a year ago. In France, 52% of admins say they are happier, and in the UK, 48%.
- French admins feeling the burden. In the US, 59% of admins report being overwhelmed with job responsibilities and expectations. In the UK, 58% report the same, and in France, 77% report being overwhelmed.
- Most IT admins report feeling overwhelmed with responsibilities. 48% say they are somewhat overwhelmed, and 16% say they are very overwhelmed in terms of their jobs and responsibilities.
- Female admins are feeling less overwhelmed. While male and female admins report the same general level of happiness in their job, more male admins (61%) report feeling overwhelmed than female admins (53%). 26% of male admins report feeling very overwhelmed compared to 14% of female admins.
- Admins are taking time for themselves. 51% of all surveyed IT admins report having purposely reduced the workload over the last six months in order to achieve a better work-life balance.
- SME IT admins continue to overwork. Over a quarter (26%) of IT admins report working 10 or more hours per week than their job description requires.
Managed Service Providers (MSPs)
- MSPs are an important contributor to SMEs. 90% of SMEs are either working with or considering using an MSP. An MSP completely manages the IT programs of 27% of all surveyed SMEs, a trend which is even stronger in the US with 42% of SMEs using an MSP for total IT program management.
- SMEs see a number of benefits in working with MSPs. For SMEs working with MSPs, the most popular reason is that MSPs are up to date with the latest technologies (61%), followed by MSPs providing a better user experience (55%), being cost-effective (50%), better securing users’ access and identity than the SME can (41%), and offering strong customer support (22%).
- MSPs offer a broad expertise portfolio. The two most common areas for which SMEs use MSPs are cloud storage (53%) and system security (53%), followed by system management and system monitoring (both 47%), managed backup (40%), hardware procurement (33%), business continuity/disaster recovery (30%), help desk (30%), and change management (26%).
- Despite broad use, security concerns about MSPs abound. Nearly half of SMEs (46%) have concerns about how MSPs handle security, despite 56% of SMEs reporting that MSP use has resulted in better security.
- Friction within the remote environment. 70% of UK admins agree or strongly agree that remote workers are better at following security best practices this year than last, in line with the global average of 73%, but 10% below US respondents.
- UK respondents are slightly less likely to consider employee experience in IT purchasing decisions. Where 84% of respondents globally said this is an important factor, only 80% of UK admins agreed. In the US, 90% of respondents said this was an important consideration, 10% higher than the UK.
- UK job dissatisfaction runs high. UK IT admins are 9% less satisfied in their roles than the global average. Whereas 57% of global respondents stated they were happier in their roles than last year, and 71% in the US, just below half of UK respondents (48%) shared the same sentiment. 35% of UK IT admins feel as happy as last year, and 17.4% reported feeling worse, compared to 13% globally, and only 7% in the US.
- French admins are more concerned with employee-based threats. When asked about the biggest security concerns, network attacks (41%) and ransomware (35%) topped the list, yet conversely, the other top concerns for France are employee-based concerns: use of unsecured networks (26%), spearfishing (24%), and shared user credentials (20%).
- Digital sovereignty is a big concern in France. While SME IT admins in the UK are concerned about digital sovereignty (44%), which refers to a nation’s ability to control its digital destiny, French SME IT admins find it to be a big concern at 59%.
JumpCloud surveyed 1,221 SME IT decision-makers in the UK, US, and France, including managers, directors, vice presidents, and executives. Each survey respondent represented an organization with 2,500 or fewer employees across a variety of industries. The online survey was conducted by Propeller Insights, May 12-24, 2023. The findings from the JumpCloud Q2 2023 SME IT Trends Report can be found in “Flexibility and Ingenuity: What’s Powering Small and Medium-Sized Enterprise IT Management in 2023,” here.
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