Operational efficiency will replace revenue growth as top challenge; "bridge leader" positions are on the rise.
Entering 2015, 73 percent of IT leaders indicate that operational objectives such as reducing costs, improving efficiency, consolidating, standardizing and streamlining present the biggest organizational challenges. Comparatively, increasing revenue growth and profitability was cited as the biggest challenge in 2014.
Heading into 2014, the "doers" (programmers and developers, project managers, help desk and technical support, software engineers, architects) were cited as the most critical roles to success. In 2015, "bridge leadership" positions gained in importance, as IT managers jumped from No. 9 to No. 1, and VP/director-level leaders gained three spots to land at No. 4 on the list. Project managers (No. 2), programmers and developers (No. 3), and help desk and technical support (No. 5) remained in the top five.
TEKsystems' Take: While IT leaders continue to focus on revenue growth as an organizational challenge, recent economic progress has lessened its urgency and prioritized addressing operational challenges. The "doers" that drove success in 2014 are now mixed with the "bridge leader" roles of line-level managers, directors and vice presidents in 2015. This shift is likely due to these leaders' ability to connect with various business areas and communicate how their needs align to the IT department's priorities. This can be interpreted as a greater understanding of the importance of strategy and tactical alignment for operational efficiency.
Despite the ups and downs in recent years, 2015 is poised to be a year of relative calm in IT, according to research from TEKsystems. While budget expectations remain relatively flat, confidence levels among IT departments in their ability to fulfill business needs are increasing. Critical business objectives in the coming year will focus on improving existing apps and infrastructure, improving efficiency and retaining talented staff members. Additionally, given the pervasive nature of data breaches in 2014, security is the top area of concern for 2015.
"It's easy to jump to the conclusion that the reduction in expected budget increases signifies a need to cut back and eliminate important projects, but in reality, IT leaders are simply looking to be more realistic about what they can do with their resources and plan accordingly," said TEKsystems Research Manager Jason Hayman. "Rather than viewing the decrease in the rate of growth of spending as a reason to eliminate projects, IT leaders can instead use that information to implement sound talent management strategies in areas that are truly benefiting the business, and they can allocate resources to solidify those objectives."