SolarWinds Study of Hong Kong IT Professionals Finds Cloud Computing is Top Transformative Technology and One Major Cause of Mounting Performance Challenges

  • The SolarWinds IT Trends Report 2018 reveals automation a top investment priority today over technology like artificial intelligence
  • Optimizing IT performance remains an elusive challenge
  • Study also points to need for better integration with top leaders on IT investment priorities

SolarWinds has released the findings of its annual state-of-the-industry study. The new study reveals the state of today’s IT landscape: IT professionals are continuing to prioritize investments in cloud computing as they grapple with how to leverage the benefits of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. A juxtaposition of the findings with other independent research also suggests a misalignment between the IT investment priorities of the practitioners surveyed and their leaders.

The IT Trends Report 2018: The Intersection of Hype and Performance, the company’s annual report on IT trends, explores the spectrum of today’s existing and emerging technologies and the extent to which they are disrupting IT and optimizing the performance of environments as organizations progress in their digital transformation journeys.

Overall, Hong Kong IT professionals are prioritizing investments in cloud computing and hybrid IT more than any other technology – 92 percent of respondents indicate that cloud/hybrid IT are one of the top five most important technologies to their organization’s IT strategy today. While AI and machine learning (ML) are not currently the highest priorities for IT professionals, optimizing cloud/hybrid IT environments creates a critical pathway to eventually deploy and capture the compelling benefits of these emerging technologies.

However, the rapid adoption of new technologies has created environments that are not optimized for peak performance: nearly two-thirds (61 percent) of the survey respondents indicate their environments are not optimized and nearly half (48 percent) reported spending 50 percent or more of their time reactively maintaining and troubleshooting.

At the same time, IT professional respondents also cite inadequate organizational strategy (63 percent) inadequate app strategy (43 percent) and training (40 percent) as common barriers to system optimization. Ultimately, to keep pace with changing environments and achieve successful digital transformation, today’s IT professionals require new skillsets and deeper strategic collaboration with business leaders.

“The narrative in today’s IT industry revolves around transformative technologies like AI, machine learning, blockchain, and more. These technologies are unquestionably important, but the results of this year’s study reveal that IT professionals are still prioritizing investments in technologies that help run day-to-day operations, and choosing initiatives that deliver more immediate value,” said Joe Kim, executive vice president and global chief technology officer, SolarWinds. “The SolarWinds IT Trends Report 2018 shows IT professionals are focusing in on proven technologies that deliver value today, like cloud and automation, with an eye towards AI for tomorrow.”

“This is how most IT professionals currently are optimizing their environments to help unlock additional performance for their organizations,” he added.

2018 Key Findings

The IT Trends Report 2018: The Intersection of Hype and Performance explores IT professionals’ view about what is happening in their technology worlds, and how their organizations are prioritizing existing and emerging technologies. Key findings show that:

Cloud computing and hybrid IT will remain IT professionals’ top priority for the next five years as these elements meet today’s business needs while serving as the backbone to trends like ML and AI.

  • Over 90 percent of IT professionals surveyed indicate that cloud and/or hybrid IT is one of the top five most important technologies in their IT organization’s technology strategy today, with 63 percent listing cloud/hybrid IT as their number one most important technology.
  • When ranking most important technologies today and for digital transformation over the next three to five years, as well as technologies with the greatest potential to provide productivity/efficiency benefits and ROI, IT professionals ranked cloud and/or hybrid IT as number one across the board (by weighted rank).
    • Big data analytics ranked the number two priority for technology strategy today, and automation ranked the number two greatest potential to provide productivity/efficiency benefits and ROI today.
    • IT professionals ranked big data analytics as number two when it comes to technologies/management tools needed for digital transformation over the next three to five years.

At the same time, IT professionals are setting their sights toward future innovation in emerging technologies like AI. 

  • While AI did not make the top five technologies IT professionals are prioritising today, it took the number three spot (by weighted rank) for technologies needed for digital transformation over the next three to five years, rising by 29 percent.
  • Concurrently, AI and ML investments are expected to increase in importance over the next three to five years.
  • 69 percent of respondents indicate AI is the biggest priority and 44 percent of respondents indicate machine learning is the biggest priority three to five years from now (compared to 40 percent and 33 percent today, respectively).
  • Cloud service providers such as Amazon Web Services™ and Microsoft® Azure® are investing heavily in AI technologies and capabilities, which presents an opportunity for IT professionals to leverage existing investment in cloud offerings to experiment with and deploy AI-based services in their organizations.

The results of the IT Trends Survey suggest a slight dissonance between the views of IT professionals and their senior managers on priorities for IT investment over the next three to five years.

  • On the weighted list of technologies that IT professionals believe are needed for an IT organization’s digital transformation over the next three to five years, AI—while gaining in importance—only just made the top three.
    • This contrasts with a recent global CEO survey, which found that AI and ML are the main strategic priorities that four-fifths of enterprise C-suites are placing on their operations.
      • Enterprises see AI and ML (81 percent) and process automation and robotics (82 percent) as important C-Suite directives toward operations strategy­—higher than any priority other than cost reduction (HFS Research).
    • As AI and ML continue to mature, IT professionals will be required to have a fundamental understanding of these technologies and their capabilities to act as an educated liaison for business leadership when it comes time to consider the benefits of adoption.

While IT professionals continue prioritizing cloud computing and hybrid IT, adoption of these technologies has made it challenging to optimize performance of their systems and applications.

  • By weighted rank, cloud and/or hybrid IT was cited as one of the top four greatest challenges when it comes to implementation, rollout and/or day-to-day performance. Other challenges include big data analytics SDx and AI.
  • More than half (61 percent) of all IT professionals surveyed think that their IT environments are not operating at optimal levels.
    • Over two-thirds of all IT professionals surveyed spend less than 25 percent of their time proactively optimizing performance, and less than one in 100 IT professionals spend 75 percent or more of their time doing so.
    • Nearly half of IT professionals spend 50 percent or more of their time reactively maintaining and troubleshooting their IT environment.
  • This echoes findings from the 2017 SolarWinds IT Trends Report: Portrait of a Hybrid IT Organization, in which 31 percent of IT pross surveyed who migrated critical applications and infrastructure to the cloud ultimately brought back/left area(s) on-premises due to security concerns, budget and performance issues.

Many IT professionals cite a lack of organizational strategy and inadequate investment in areas such as user training as the most common barriers to system optimization.

  • Of IT professionals indicating their environments are not optimized, 63 percent ranked inadequate organizational strategy as one of the top three barriers to achieving optimization, followed closely by inadequate investment in other areas, such as user and technology training app strategy (43 percent) and user training (40 percent by weighted rank).
    • To achieve optimized performance and work towards a successful digital transformation, IT professionals require deeper strategic collaboration with business leaders.

To explore and interact with all of the 2018 findings, please visit the SolarWinds IT Trends Index, a dynamic web experience that presents the study’s findings by region, including charts, graphs, socially shareable elements, and additional insights into the data.

The findings of this year’s Hong Kong report are based on a survey fielded in December 2017, which yielded responses from 75 IT practitioners, managers, and directors in Hong Kong from public-and private-sector small, mid-size, and enterprise companies. All regions studied in 2018, as reported on the SolarWinds IT Trends Index, were North America, Australia, Germany, Hong Kong, Singapore, and the United Kingdom, with 803 respondents across all geographies combined.

Additional Resources

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About SolarWinds
SolarWinds provides powerful and affordable IT management software to customers worldwide, from Fortune 500® enterprises to small businesses, managed service providers (MSPs), government agencies, and educational institutions. We are committed to focusing exclusively on IT, MSP, and DevOps professionals, and strive to eliminate the complexity that our customers have been forced to accept from traditional enterprise software vendors. Regardless of where the IT asset or user sits, SolarWinds delivers products that are easy to find, buy, use, maintain, and scale while providing the power to address key areas of the infrastructure from on-premises to the cloud. This focus and commitment to excellence in end-to-end hybrid IT performance management has established SolarWinds as the worldwide leader in both network management software and MSP solutions, and is driving similar growth across the full spectrum of IT management software. Our solutions are rooted in our deep connection to our user base, which interacts in our THWACK online community to solve problems, share technology and best practices, and directly participate in our product development process. Learn more today at


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