2021 IT Operations Survey Highlights – Trends Impacting Small and Midsize Businesses

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Kaseya’s 2021 State of IT Operations survey findings reveal the top priorities, challenges, areas of investment, cloud strategy trends, IT budget growth trends and more for small to midsize businesses.

Marking the year of recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, 2021 is crucial for businesses to adapt to evolving market trends and align their strategies to meet the challenges in the current economic environment. The 2021 IT Operations Survey report offers a wealth of useful market information that can help you drive your business toward sustainable growth, innovation and profitability in 2021.

Let’s take a look at some of the major highlights of the 2021 IT Operations Survey Report. Get the full report for more details.

Top IT Priorities

The top priorities of IT professionals in 2021 are driven by the pandemic’s aftereffects, the increase in cybersecurity threats and the need to support long-term remote or hybrid work. Here are our respondents’ top picks:

Improving IT Security — Nearly two-thirds (61%) of all respondents said that improving overall IT security is a major priority this year.

Cloud Migration — More than one-third (36%) of respondents selected cloud migration as an important priority in 2021.

Increasing IT Productivity Through Automation — About 34% of respondents are focusing on increasing IT productivity by automating IT processes.

Top PrioritiesAmericasAPACEMEAAll Respondents
Improving IT Security Overall62%50%60%61%
Cloud Migration ( e.g. LaaS, PaaS, or SaaS )35%43%35%36%
Increasing IT Productivity Through Automation35%32%32%34%
Delivering Higher Service Levels / IT Service Availability33%27%38%33%
Reducing IT Costs30%27%39%31%

Supporting a hybrid work model requires IT to continue to support remote workers as well as the ones returning to office. This adds to the already heavy workload on IT teams. The growth in the number and diversity of endpoints and devices that IT teams must manage is also increasing the demands on IT. This includes management of virtual machines, mobile devices, cloud infrastructure and commercial IoT. Automation is the key to increasing IT operational efficiency and managing today’s complex IT environments with existing IT resources.

Top IT Challenges

With the world gradually recuperating from the disastrous effects of the global pandemic, the worst seems to be behind us. Even as the dust settles, businesses are faced with a host of IT challenges that they must overcome to thrive in the recovering economy.

Cybersecurity and Data Protection — More than half (54%) the respondents cited cybersecurity and data protection as their biggest challenge in 2021.

Not Enough IT Budget or Resources to Meet Demands — Around 30% of respondents said they struggled to meet their current IT demands due to budget or resource constraints. Budgets aren’t increasing as fast as the demands on IT.

Legacy Systems Hampering Growth and Innovation — Nearly a quarter (24%) of respondents are faced with the challenge of legacy systems hampering their business growth and innovation.

With the economy gradually recovering, many small and midsize businesses reported growth in their IT budgets. Nearly 38% said their IT budgets will increase in 2021. The top budget drivers for IT in 2021 include updating outdated IT infrastructure and business growth.

Nearly 52% of companies are planning to allocate a portion of their IT budget to legacy modernization and updating outdated IT infrastructure. Given the surge in cyberattacks over the last year, about 46% of respondents expect to increase IT security headcount in order to enhance security.

Top Areas of IT Investment

The top areas of IT investment for businesses show where the market is headed and what you need to do to align your strategy with evolving trends. As per oursurvey, the top technologies that companies will be investing in 2021 are:

Email Security — Among the respondents, 53% will allocate a portion of their IT budget to “Email security (including phishing prevention).” With the increase in cyberattacks over the past year, email phishing attacks have also been on the rise. Investing in email security solutions and employee training are good ways to combat the problem of phishing attacks that can lead to security breaches.

IT Automation — Another 49% of the respondents said that their IT budget will be utilized for “IT automation” technologies that are key to boosting productivity and reducing operational costs. IT automation is an important strategy for businesses that are looking to improve operational efficiency and do more with existing IT resources. In order to remotely manage your highly distributed IT environment and increase IT operational efficiency, you need an endpoint management tool that allows you to “manage everything” and automate all common IT processes.

Ransomware protection — A third of the respondents (33%) cited ransomware protection as a key technology their company will invest in this year. Another approach to enhancing IT security is by leveraging managed security operations center (SOC) services.

Cloud Strategy and Spend for 2021

With many companies accelerating their digital transformation initiatives over the last year, cloud adoption has gained momentum as well. Here are the top cloud strategy and spend statistics from our survey report for this year:

  • A hybrid public-private cloud strategy will be used by 65% of companies.
  • IaaS spends will increase for 54% of respondents in 2021.
  • SaaS spends will increase for 36% of companies this year.

Most Important Endpoint Management Use Cases

When asked to rate the importance of certain use cases for their endpoint management solution, the respondents selected “Remote access and management of endpoints (55%),” “Software patch management (54%),” and “Automation of IT processes (50%)” as their top requirements.

Vulnerability and Patch Management Still Isn’t Where It Needs to Be

Vulnerability and patch management is an aspect of IT operations where many organizations can improve both their security posture and their IT productivity through automation. Timely patching of IT systems reduces security risks and keeps hackers at bay. IT teams should strive to apply patches within 30 days of their release and test them before applying them. Key statistics from our survey include:

  • Only around 44% of respondents have automated patch management.
  • Nearly 38% apply critical patches for third-party apps within 30 days of release not doing this exposes companies to higher security risk.
  • Only 30% can patch remote, off-network devices.

IT security remains the topmost concern in terms of priorities for most small and midsize businesses. With email security and ransomware protection high on their list of areas of investment, businesses are proactively taking steps to combat emerging cyberthreats. IT automation is another key area of investment that aligns with the need to stretch IT budgets as far as possible to meet increased demands.

For more detailed insights on IT trends for small and medium enterprises in 2021, download your free copy of the full report.

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