A survey based on responses from 230 IT operations and DevOps executives in the U.S. and UK with at least 500 employees and $5 million in annual IT budgets published this week indicates large enterprises are continuing to make IT investments despite the downturn in the economy brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the second and third quarters of 2020, 60% of IT leaders significantly or moderately increased their annual technology budgets, according to the survey results. In contrast, 22% reported their organizations significantly or moderately reduced their IT spending during the same period.
Conducted by OpsRamp, a provider of a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform for managing IT operations, the survey also finds nearly two-thirds of respondents (63%) have accelerated or maintained digital transformation initiatives in response to the economic downturn brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cost optimization, however, remains a major focus. IT leaders report they are using self-service tools (60%), open source software (51%) and rationalizing IT vendors (51%) to contain costs.
Financial managers who can help IT teams present a compelling business case for technology investments are the highest hiring priority (54%), followed by senior IT leaders who can execute digital transformation programs (47%) and cloud operators (44%).
From a technology perspective, top priorities are information security and compliance (59%), remote work and collaboration (55%), public and multi-cloud infrastructure (50%) and monitoring and management (42%).
More than half of respondents (57%) said they are also employing artificial intelligence for IT operations, while 50% have adopted both digital experience monitoring (50%) and network performance monitoring and diagnostics (50%) tools.
Bhanu Singh, senior vice president of engineering and DevOps for OpsRamp, said the survey makes it clear that IT spending in large enterprises is rebounding from last spring when the pandemic first hit. Overall, IT spending for the year will still be down from its historic highs, but larger organizations are prioritizing technology projects that enable the business to adjust to fundamentally different market conditions, he said. Most of those projects involve applications being deployed on cloud computing platforms using best DevOps practices, noted Singh.
Less clear is what the level of investments will be following the U.S. presidential election. Many business leaders are waiting to see what the stimulus spending might be approved by the new administration and Congress. That may not be known until a runoff in December for two Senate seats in Georgia, which will determine which political party controls the U.S. Senate.
In the meantime, it does appear that larger organizations are investing in IT projects they expect will either enable them to remain competitive or pick up market share at the expense of smaller rivals that may not have as many resources to invest in IT. Historically, smaller organizations have tended to be more nimble when it comes to leveraging IT to gain a strategic advantage. However, in an era when cash flow is constrained many smaller organizations may have to be more judicious when it comes to spending on IT.
Regardless of the outcome, the one thing that is certain is IT has never played a more crucial role in determining not only which organizations survive but ultimately thrive.