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The below highlights are from a survey, which was conducted by Spiceworks in July 2017 and included 1,003 respondents from North America and Europe. Respondents are among the millions of IT professionals in Spiceworks and represent a variety of company sizes including small-to-medium-sized businesses as well as enterprises. Respondents come from a variety of industries including manufacturing, healthcare, non-profits, education, government, and finance. For more information and a complete list of survey results, visit www.spiceworks.com/marketing/state-of-it/report/.

1. In 2018, IT budgets expected to stabilize, and in many cases grow

As they say, a rising tide raises all boats. In our current healthy global economy, profitable companies are expected to spread the wealth in 2018. Thanks to 60 percent of companies forecasting a rise in yearly revenues in the next 12 months, it follows that 44 percent of IT departments represented in our survey expect an increase in their overall IT budget, compared to only 11 percent that predicts a decrease.

As a result of positive economic tailwinds, IT departments also expect to see staffing increases in 2018. Nearly half of organizations are expecting to hire more IT pros, compared to only 5 percent that project that their departments will shrink in size. And while the Community forecasts upward trends among companies of all sizes in both North America and Europe, growth will not occur proportionally. In 2018, larger companies are much more likely to grow their IT departments than smaller businesses.


2. Budgets for cloud-based services rise higher in 2018

The phenomenon of companies jumping aboard the cloud services trend shows no signs of changing course or slowing down in 2018. In fact, the majority of companies expect to increase cloud spend, and organizations estimate that they will spend 21 percent of their overall IT budgets on cloud services in 2018. By comparison, they told us they plan to spend 31 percent of their IT budgets on hardware and 26 percent on software.

The cloud services companies plan to allocate the biggest portion of their cloud budgets on including online backup/recovery at 15 percent, online productivity software at 10 percent, email hosting at 9 percent, and web hosting at 9 percent.

As to the top reasons companies are taking up cloud services, 42 percent of respondents said they were enticed by having access to data anywhere, 38 percent said they want to enhance disaster recovery capabilities, and 37 percent are attracted to the flexibility and scalability of the cloud services. And even though IT departments won’t necessarily spent a lot of money on it, the most popular workload running on cloud infrastructure will be communication/collaboration software.


3. Fewer IT departments will budget for GDPR than should, which could cost unprepared companies big

Just over the horizon, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a set of rules designed to protect the privacy and personal data of European Union residents, will become effective on May 25, 2018. And with stiff non-compliance penalties, organizations around the world might be compelled to pay damages of up to 4% of a company’s annual revenue or 20 million Euros — whichever is higher.

And according to Spiceworks research, many companies are not actively preparing for GDPR, particularly in the U.S., where many organizations might assume that the regulations don’t apply to their business. Furthermore, State of IT data indicates that only 31 percent of US-based companies allocated any money towards preparations.

European companies, on the other hand, are in better shape with 56 percent of companies in the region have allocating budget for GDPR compliance. Bottom line: companies that aren’t preparing for the regulation or assuming incorrectly that the regulation doesn’t apply to them may have to scramble before the deadline next year, or they stand to lose significant treasure to fines.


4. From IT automation to AI, 3D printing, and VR, IT departments jump on board with emerging tech

The fantastical sci-fi dreams of yesterday are becoming the actual state of tech today (talking computers à la Star Trek and self-driving cars like in Knight Rider anyone?), and emerging tech is gradually making its way into the workplace. According to the State of IT data, currently 29 percent of organizations have adopted IoT devices, 18 percent have implemented virtual reality, and 13 percent have adopted some form of artificial intelligence … and those figures are only going to grow in 2018.

In fact, over the next 12 months, adoption of these novel technologies is expected to increase significantly. We can expect 48 percent of companies to use IoT devices, 32% to take advantage of VR, and 30% to make use of AI by the end of 2018. And when it comes to relatively established (but still relatively new) tech, IT automation, advanced security solutions, and software-defined storage technologies are expected to become mainstream in 2018, with the majority of companies using these technologies. And the flagships leading the charge into uncharted waters will be larger companies with bigger budgets and more manpower to experiment with the latest and greatest cutting-edge tech.

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