The IT Professional’s Holiday Wish List

December 21, 2017
Cloud, Customer Service, Data Protection, IT Security, IT Services

Apple's iPhone X would make a lovely holiday gift for that special IT professional in your life. An underwater drone with VR goggles would likely be a hit as well. Or, how about a Sleep Number bed that senses cold feet and turns heat on at the bottom of the bed?

There’s plenty to choose from among the latest and greatest tech-inspired gadgets and gifts. But, not everything an IT professional wants can be wrapped in holiday-themed paper and a bow. We talked to several people on the frontlines in the tech industry. Here are a few things they said were topping their wish lists — and our suggestions for how to achieve them.

1. Security-conscious Co-workers

For IT professionals, IT security is a never-ending challenge. Their co-workers often play a role in that with “insider threats” among the biggest security issues. According to a 2017 Insider Threat Report, 74% of companies report feeling vulnerable to employee-perpetuated risks. Among them: lost mobile devices, employees clicking on links in malicious emails, improper access to data, and even honest mistakes like sending sensitive files to the wrong address.

To foster more security consciousness among employees, it’s essential to foster a culture of self-responsibility and accountability. It’s not enough to train employees in security practices. They also need to understand why security practices exist and what the consequences are of not following them. If employees know their actions can affect their company’s bottom line, which in turn can jeopardize their income and employment, they may be more conscientious in following security regulations and best practices.

2. More Understanding Stakeholders

IT professionals would also like their co-workers — and all their stakeholders, for that matter — to be a little more understanding of the challenges they face and the parameters they must work within. For example, stakeholders may get easily frustrated when they can’t get the extra cloud storage they want or the latest software they think they need. Their frustration levels may be tempered a bit if they understand that the C-suite has mandated other tasks as your top priority, or that IT staffing shortages are maxing out your internal resources.

Concise, frequent communication will help. Keep stakeholders apprised of IT’s activities and initiatives. Set realistic expectations for technology rollouts and upgrades.  Explain the reasons behind IT policies and the repercussions if they aren’t followed. Don’t just send out company-wide emails or a newsletter. Hold occasional informational sessions that include a Q&A. Use the opportunity to make sure stakeholders know you are aware of their needs but must balance them with other priorities — many of which are beyond your control. They still may not be happy, but they may be less likely to see you as the enemy.

3. Vendors That are Partners

The “to-do list” for IT professionals seems never-ending, and often is accompanied by tight budgets and even tighter timelines. Tapping the expertise and assistance of outside vendors can take some of the pressure off. The real value, however, is derived from working with vendors that are true business partners.

True business partners know your business inside and out. They follow the trends in your industry, and know what the obstacles and opportunities are. They know what works and what doesn’t. They measure their success by your success. They are out there, but you might not find them through the typical RFP process.

Do your due diligence and take the time to understand what you can expect from prospective vendors. Question them — and their customers. How flexible are they in how they work? Do they only provide off-the-shelf solutions, or can they customize solutions to your organization’s specific needs?  What kind of follow-through do they provide after a solution has been deployed?  Are they willing to work with you to develop better ways of doing things?

Finding the right partner might take a little time and cost a little more, but it’s worth it if you get peace of mind ─ and someone willing to make things right if they do go wrong.  

4. The Cloud

While many companies are employing the cloud for various uses, IT professionals would still like to make more use of cloud technologies. They are tired of wrangling dusty servers, patching obsolete software, and losing sleep over legacy systems that have seen better days. And, they no longer fear losing their jobs if their on-premise data center goes away.

They see the value in the cloud’s speed, security, agility, and infinite scalability. They know how it can contribute to efficient business processes, better productivity, seamless customer experiences and optimized IT resources. They are anxious to harness its power to drive innovation.

If you are among them, build your business case. Then evaluate your workloads. Which can and should move, and what benefits will be derived? Can you move them yourself or will you need assistance? What’s the fastest, least intrusive way to move them? Working with a cloud services provider that offers professional services such as workload migration, in addition to the cloud infrastructure, will likely make things much easier.

The Rest of the List

The IT professionals we talked to had a wide range of other “wants” on their holiday wish lists, ranging from easier recruiting of qualified staff to quicker budget approvals. One thing they all agreed on, however, was that a bed that could warm their feet would make a great present.