IT departments are understaffed and overwhelmed. Here's how to fix it

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The endless debate over remote, hybrid, or in-person workplace models misses a critical point: regardless of where people work, we're in a new, digital era that transforms how people work. The best practices that sufficed in the past no longer cut it. And your IT team is feeling the burden big time.

IT workers face a constantly evolving onslaught of tasks related to dispersed users, endpoints, data, networks, and other assets. Even if your team works in-person full-time, they're still logging on from home, often on personal devices. The number of employee requests for device issues has skyrocketed. There’s too much to do — and given the global shortage of skilled IT workers — not nearly enough people to do it.

In an extensive survey of IT and security professionals, 31% say a colleague has quit due to burnout. Further, 47% say they’re badgered by too many digital notifications, 42% have too many tools to manage and 39% say they have too many logins.

And these are IT and security professionals. If the most tech-savvy folks in your organization struggle with tech stress, it’s safe to assume that the problem is widespread.

Across departments, employees are fed up with long waits for issue resolution. They are tired of jumping through digital hoops. They need the right tools and resources. That struggle has a ripple effect on the whole organization. When the right tools and resources aren’t available, productivity suffers. Morale suffers. Retention rates suffer. Security posture suffers. The bottom line suffers.

Let’s fix it.

Daren Goeson

SVP Product Management for Secure Unified Endpoint Management at Ivanti.

The pivotal role of digital employee experience (DEX)

The key to addressing work challenges in the new, digital, multi-modal era is to focus on digital employee experience (DEX), which is the practice of using technology to design intuitive, effective digital experiences for employees.

A strong DEX features fewer logins, fewer hoops to jump through, less downtime, more user-friendly applications, consistent digital experiences, and streamlined support.

Effective DEX management combats all the issues listed above, helping to positively impact an organization's security posture, talent retention, morale, and productivity — all while alleviating the burden on IT professionals.

What’s at stake if we don’t improve DEX?

DEX seems like a no-brainer as an investment, but it’s still that — an investment. Cost is the most often cited factor in why organizations lag on DEX initiatives. But they’re still dropping cash. According to IDC, organizations will have spent nearly $1 billion on "Future of Work" activities in 2023, a nearly 20% increase over 2022.

Despite expenditures, research shows that 56% of companies don't have a high level of buy-in from the C-suite for DEX initiatives, and 52% say DEX isn't always a consideration when buying new tech.

Investing in “Future of Work” initiatives that exclude DEX is dangerous. The potential fallout extends beyond misspent funds and lower productivity. Lack of focus on DEX can lead to IT professionals and other employees using risky shortcuts and workarounds which can spark outsized organizational risks. Among IT and security professionals, research reveals that:

30% store passwords on unauthorized apps or paper.

54% request to bypass security protocols.

35% admit to opening work applications on personal devices.

31% use a personal email account for work communications.

Again, remember that this comes from the professionals tasked with keeping your organization safe. And this is only what people are willing to admit to.

The solution: how to improve DEX — and your company’s performance

DEX is the clear solution. How do you get there? To start, develop the framework for a holistic measure of DEX. Tracking DEX allows companies to pinpoint areas that need attention and investment.

Benchmarking and improving DEX boils down to one word: automation.

Automation is already being deployed in many companies as part of digital transformation initiatives. An automated DEX management program might detect anomalies and noncompliance, letting IT and security professionals know when there’s a problem. Still, many automated solutions rely too heavily on reactivity.

The real solution lies in proactivity. DEX management can be part of a comprehensive, end-to-end hyperautomation platform. This should include a solution that discovers, maps, manages, and remediates all assets, even when they’re offline. It should be able to anticipate errors and predict downtime. It should prioritize remediation based on risk. It should measure and flag issues across various systems, devices and people.

And here’s the kicker: the most value-added automated solutions should work seamlessly behind the scenes, solving problems before humans are involved or even aware of the issue. That’s where DEX really gets improved. Instead of an endless line of helpdesk tickets, IT and security professionals can focus on high-value tasks that move the company forward.

These hyperautomated solutions exist, but adoption rates must skyrocket to prevent further burnout, turnover, lost productivity, and security risks. According to research, only 43% say their company uses an endpoint management solution to track IT assets. Everyone else is left guessing.

It’s worth restating: the debate over remote, hybrid and in-person work misses the point. Regardless of the workplace model, users and assets are used outside traditional perimeters. Lines are blurred between personal and professional devices and applications. When users don’t have the tools and resources they need to do their jobs well, they look for workarounds — or simply stop working.

DEX can’t be an afterthought. Failing to invest in DEX upfront leads to money thrown at the resulting problems. More perks! More recruiters! Monitor mouse activity! It’s time to move from reactivity to proactivity. Solve the problems before they start. If you won’t, your competitors will.

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Daren Goeson is SVP Product Management for Secure Unified Endpoint Management at Ivanti.