Overcoming IT Complexity in a Hybrid World

It’s clear cloud adoption isn’t slowing down any time soon. Gartner® says end-user spending on cloud services has grown by a further 20% in 2022 to almost U.S. 500 billion. And the spending spree isn’t stopping yet. In fact, it’s expected to grow by another hundred billion dollars in 2023.

The fuel for this growth is the fact all businesses are under pressure. Competitors are investing in resilience while also spending on improving products and services. At the same time, customers are demanding better experiences from companies. The distributed workforce also has high expectations—they want flexible work options. The fast pace of business innovation forces companies to continue striving to become more efficient and effective. Any way you look at it, companies must catch up, and this requires spending. 

As teams try to meet these competing demands, it’s never been harder to work in IT. Pain points include running applications and workloads across both cloud and on-premises infrastructure while simultaneously supporting new technologies and legacy infrastructure.  

And as these new features and applications are added, complexity throughout the tech stack grows and spreads exponentially. Of particular challenge is integrating new and legacy technologies, all while managing the transition to different ways of working. This is a challenge facing large organisations in particular. 

With IT complexity affecting teams’ confidence, including the tech pros maintaining these systems, it’s becoming a problem we can’t ignore. 

A confidence problem

According to the SolarWinds® IT Trends Report 2022, complexity has negatively impacted the ability of IT teams to both support their businesses and the bottom line. 

Worldwide respondents to the survey revealed the top drivers of increased complexity include new technologies and tools, growing tech requirements from multiple departments, and fragmentation between legacy and modern technologies. These growing demands indicate a potential crisis looming on the horizon. 

Additional findings from the IT Trends Report show IT pros lack confidence in their ability to manage today’s complex environments. When asked how confident IT professionals are in their organisation’s ability to manage complexity, only 16% of respondents said they felt extremely confident. More than a third of respondents (34%) also admitted they weren’t fully equipped to manage complexity, and an additional 6% weren’t confident at all. 

At a time when budgets are being watched carefully, every penny counts. For every department, spending in the right places is crucial. With the majority of IT leaders (75%) believing return on investment (ROI) has been impacted due to increasing IT complexity, it’s vital business leaders work collaboratively with IT teams to fix this ever-expanding issue and help IT pros get back on track. 

Thankfully, there are four key ways to help combat this crisis in confidence.

1. Choose the right payment model

When working with an IT vendor, it’s important to keep your options open and shop around for the best deal or payment plan.

Subscription or one-off payments have budgetary benefits, but pay-as-you-go IT services shouldn’t necessarily be ignored. Providers of these services must commit to making you happy, or you’d be wise to look elsewhere. 

Additionally, a pay-as-you-go approach allows your team to see a direct link between cost, waste, and inefficiency. It forces IT professionals to stay on top of maximising the usage of what they buy. For example, if there’s a technological lag, they’ll reach out to the provider for a faster fix. It also means you’re not paying for more than you need, and it’s easier to scale up or scale down as the needs of the business change. The result is a better understanding of ROI for the entire IT team.

No matter which method you choose, selecting the right option for the task at hand and the more general business requirements is essential. This choice should also be re-evaluated and defended at future budgetary meetings to make sure it still aligns with the company’s needs as they change in a rapidly evolving business environment. 

2. Seek solutions suited to your size

Each organisation faces different challenges, but the size of the organisation can play a significant role in determining what technology, tool, or strategy could help better manage IT complexity. For example, The SolarWinds IT Trends Report also found more than a third (38%) of enterprise tech professionals indicated fragmentation between legacy and new technologies was the leading cause of increased complexity, compared to slightly over a quarter (29%) of their small business counterparts. 

Before you select or purchase anything, factor in the size of your organisation. For example, a smaller company may be able to tackle complexity by bringing in one or two external consultants to lay out a strategy. However, this might not have the same impact for a larger organisation. 

In fact, larger organisations are better off undertaking a cost-benefit analysis to determine the most effective way to manage big legacy tech stacks. Larger organisations may also have more complexity to contend with, making it especially important to consider how to integrate new and legacy technologies most smoothly. 

3. The domino effect of training 

When it comes to emerging technologies, the role tech professionals play in helping their companies make strategic business decisions can’t be overstated.

Along with the benefits, IT pros will know the limits of their technology initiatives. They also understand where the compliance and security risks are—and how technology can be best used to meet business goals. 

Despite this, confidence is waning. The report notes many IT pros feel they have suboptimal visibility into infrastructure and networks and understand they require comprehensive, first-hand training to get there. These upskilling sessions, which should include the time to experiment and learn new technologies, are needed to create an IT workforce secure and confident in its skills. 

In communicating with management, tech leaders should stress how improved app performance, visibility, customer experience, and product resolution have a knock-on effect on business growth, which is something every team member at every level should be conscious of. 

4. Remember, this isn’t the first time 

Take the time to remind yourself: everything changes. The system you preferred last year has since been changed or upgraded. The company you previously relied on seems to have shifted its focus and mission. The business environment may also have pivoted, sending the business down a new path which eventually trickles down to the IT department. On the surface, tools like Zoom® and Slack® may connect us, but with every new connection comes an additional layer of IT infrastructure to track and manage. 

IT pros have to take a step back and get perspective on the pace of this change—and why it’s necessary. This last point doesn’t require any technology, but it does require the ability to remember your job has always been about change. 

Fighting the problem of complexity is a battle we all face. While there’s no miracle cure, try these four steps in the first instance. But buckle your seatbelt, too, as cloud adoption isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Chrystal Taylor headshot
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Chrystal Taylor is a dedicated technologist with over a decade of experience and has built her career by leveraging curiosity to solve problems, no matter the size, industry, or client. Whether tinkering with the family computer, or inflicting general destruction in MS-DOS Tank Wars, Chrystal Taylor has always been a geek. Taylor is a SolarWinds deployment veteran who’s built a successful IT career by translating client needs into optimised and performant systems. She loves customising current deployments to ensure systems grow in tandem with user needs. She’s achieved every available SolarWinds certification and can’t wait to start her next set (as soon as they become available). A THWACK MVP since 2011, she understands the power of community and the SolarWinds commitment to its users. In her role as the Global Services Team Lead for Loop1 Systems, Chrystal was the troubleshooting sniper, handling technical escalation for the engineering team, providing break/fix and augmentation support, and assisting clients as SME for SolarWinds® Orion® Platform and Security Event Manager (SEM) (formerly Log & Event Manager) products. Her focus on capacity planning, server architecture, and troubleshooting allows her to attack any issue on multiple fronts.

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