Tool Sprawl, External Threats, and Security Are Top Concerns for IT Admins

JumpCloud’s latest research reveals that admins are hungry for an open directory platform approach to better secure their organisation and remove tech stack complexity

JumpCloud Inc. today announced the findings from its Q2 2023 small to medium-sized enterprise (SME) IT Trends Report, “Flexibility and Ingenuity: What’s Powering Small and Medium-Sized Enterprise IT Management in 2023.” The report provides updated survey results and new findings to the company’s twice-annual SME IT Trends Report first released in June 2021.

The latest edition of the report shows that just after SMEs successfully established the new workplace normal following the pandemic, significant turbulence in the macroeconomic environment has threatened to upend the system again. Instead of lockdowns and supply chain shortages, businesses are now dealing with layoffs and recession fears on top of external threats growing in sophistication, regulatory and compliance pressures, and increasingly complex IT tool sprawl.

JumpCloud commissioned this biannual survey of SME IT admins to gain unique insights into the day-to-day experiences of IT professionals who power and secure operations without enterprise-level budgets and staff. The most recent survey results, polled from 1,221 admins in the US, UK, and France, highlight that while IT teams are successfully managing the workplace, they need an IT environment built around an open directory platform.

While 77% of SME IT admins across all regions want a single tool to do their job, organisational sprawl continues to force them to use many more. Consolidating tools shifts an enormous tech burden from overwhelmed IT admins, who seek to leverage technology to manage complicated, frustrating, and time-intensive processes. With both security and employee experience top of mind for admins, heeding IT’s call for centralised operations can result in a better UX for users, increased convenience and effectiveness for admins, and enhanced security for all.

There were some distinct variations and challenges in the UK findings (406 respondents surveyed), including:

UK slow to embrace managed solutions

  • Just over half (57%) of UK IT admins use MSPs to some extent within their IT programme, this is 12% lower than the global average and 22% lower than US respondents. However, 30% of UK respondents reported that they are considering working with one, compared to 22% globally.
  • Of those not currently using MSPs, half of the UK respondents stated that they prefer to handle IT themselves, and yet the ability of MSPs to increase IT admins’ effectiveness at managing IT was the top-named result, highlighted by 53% of MSP users in the UK and 56% globally.
  • 43% of UK respondents have concerns about how MSPs manage security, in line with 46% globally and 11% lower than US respondents, where 54% reported concerns.
  • Three quarters (76%) of UK IT admins would prefer to use a single solution or tool over managing several different solutions. Yet just under half (48%) of UK respondents reported their organisation uses between 3-7 tools or applications to manage the employee lifecycle, and 38% reported using 8 or more. Globally, only 44% reported using between 3-7 tools, but 42% use 8 or more.


Device Management is a key challenge

  • Device management is a key priority for IT admins in the UK. With ‘security’ unanimously topping the list of challenges facing IT teams in Q1 2023, 43% of UK respondents highlighted device management as a difficulty, making it their second biggest challenge and a much larger priority than the global average would suggest.
  • There are plenty of reasons why device management is a challenge: remote working and BYOD models allow for increasingly heterogeneous device environments. “When asked about the breakdown of device environments that they manage, IT admins revealed that Windows and Mac are more popular operating systems in the UK (66% in UK vs 64% globally for Windows; 20% in UK vs. 20% globally for Mac, and Linux less popular (14% in UK vs 16% globally).
  • More than two thirds (69%) of UK respondents expect their device environments to fluctuate over the next year, in line with the global average. 31% of respondents said they expect to see an increase in MacOS use over the next year, as well as 41% expecting Windows use to increase and 19% expecting an increase in Linux.
  • Beyond that, IT admins must reckon with a network of personal devices used within their organisation. 61% of UK IT admins report using their own, personal devices to access work-related IT resources and tasks (62% globally), and just over half of respondents (53%) would estimate that between 10-30% of their organisation’s employees do too.


Concerns over security posture

  • 47% of UK respondents are more worried about their organisation’s security posture than they were six months ago. This is partly down to spending pressures:
  • 77% of UK respondents have seen IT budgets increase in the last year, 12% said they had risen by over 20%. In comparison globally 80% have seen budgets rise and 13% have seen 20%+ increases.
  • 57% of UK respondents expect their IT budgets to increase over the second half of 2023, below the global average of 64%. 10% of respondents expect a decrease, in line with 9% globally.
  • 34% of UK respondents expect cybersecurity spending will be cut in the next year, in line with 35% globally. This is despite 72% of UK respondents and 68% of global respondents predicting that security budget cuts will increase organisational risk.


Friction within the remote environment

  • 70% of UK admins agree or strongly agree that remote workers are better at following security best practices this year than last, in line with the global average of 73%, but 10% below US respondents, where 80% responded that remote workers had improved.
  • UK respondents are slightly less likely to consider employee experience in IT purchasing decisions. Where 84% of respondents globally said this is an important factor, only 80% of UK admins agreed. In the US, 90% of respondents said this was an important consideration, 10% higher than the UK.


Job dissatisfaction runs high

  • UK IT admins are 9% less satisfied in their roles than the global average. Whereas 57% of global respondents stated they were happier in their roles than last year, and 71% in the US, just below half of UK respondents (48%) shared the same sentiment. 35% of UK IT admins feel as happy as last year, and 17% reported feeling worse, compared to 13% globally, and 7% in the US.
  • UK IT admins also work overtime regularly, with 100% reporting that they work at least 1 hour extra per week (in line with global figures). However, where 26% globally reported working 10 or more hours per week beyond their job descriptions, only 21% of UK admins do the same.
  • However, 43% of UK respondents reported feeling somewhat overwhelmed in their job responsibilities and expectations, with a further 15% reporting feeling very overwhelmed (58% total). This compares to 48% of global respondents feeling somewhat overwhelmed, and 16% feeling very overwhelmed (65% total).


Commenting on the UK findings, Denis Dorval, VP International (EMEA & APAC), JumpCloud said: “UK admins are less satisfied than their global counterparts, even though they are working less overtime and are less likely to report feeling overwhelmed. This implies that it is the nature, not the volume, of work that is getting them down. Adoption of MSPs in the UK is also less mature than in other regions, meaning UK-based admins are bearing responsibility for a greater proportion of routine tasks, in-house. This may be contributing to job dissatisfaction; it isn’t surprising that 30% of UK respondents are considering engaging an MSP.”

“However, with lower-than-average budget expectations for the second half of 2023, there is no guarantee that UK admins will be able to get satisfaction in the near term. This could lead to employee churn, as admins seek more fulfilling roles in other businesses – a key disruptive risk for organisations. In this scenario, it is worth exploring where technology investment could relieve the admin burden, reduce frustration, and retain talent.”

Survey Methodology

 JumpCloud surveyed 1,221 SME IT decision-makers in the UK, US, and France, including managers, directors, vice presidents, and executives. Each survey respondent represented an organisation with 2,500 or fewer employees across a variety of industries. The online survey was conducted by Propeller Insights, 12-14 May 2023. The findings from the JumpCloud Q2 2023 SME IT Trends Report can be found in “Flexibility and Ingenuity: What’s Powering Small and Medium-Sized Enterprise IT Management in 2023,” here.