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Why UK SME IT admins are dissatisfied in their roles

Why UK SME IT admins are dissatisfied in their roles

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IT admins in the UK have had a lot to deal with in the last few years as they help employees adjust to remote and hybrid working. At the same time, they are helping their customers digitally transform. This increased workload has led to some dissatisfaction among IT admins. Denis Dorval, VP International (EMEA & APAC), JumpCloud, explores how managed service provider can help solve the problem.

IT is the backbone of every organisation. Today, a glitch in IT, slow connectivity, a forgotten password, or any performance issues and we are straight onto the helpdesk looking for support from IT professionals.
For SMEs, the IT admin plays an even greater and more significant role in the day-to-day operations of the business. Downtime costs money and, without a big IT team and bottomless resources, the IT admin has become the puppet master of the IT system, tasked with ensuring the smooth running of a never-ending show, with a cast of colleagues performing from anywhere, at any time, on any device.

User expectations have accelerated

New hybrid environments means that we want flexibility, choice, a frictionless experience, security and the ability to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) as well as work from any location; a challenge to say the least. In addition, the past three years have not been easy for IT admins, who are ultimately responsible for making work, work. They have had to navigate the chaos of enabling remote access and now they must contend with the new hybrid working environment, while they continue to slave away digitally transforming the business.

With digital and identity transformation initiatives in full swing, UK IT admins are understandably feeling somewhat dissatisfied with their lot. Unfortunately, this is supported by results from our latest Q2 2023 SME IT Trends Report. Polling 1,221 IT admins in the US, UK and France, it shows that UK IT admins are less satisfied than their global counterparts, even though they are working less overtime and are less likely to report feeling overwhelmed. Fifty-eight percent of UK respondents reported feeling somewhat or very overwhelmed with their job responsibilities and expectations; this compares to 65% of global respondents.

However, UK IT admins are 9% less satisfied in their roles than last year. Whereas 57% of global respondents stated they were happier in their roles than last year, less than half of UK respondents (48%) shared the same sentiment.

Variety of work causing dissatisfaction

This implies that it is the nature, not the volume, of work that is getting UK IT admins down and causing dissatisfaction. Keen to explore why this was the case, we delved into what might be causing this frustration and found that adoption of managed service providers (MSPs) in the UK is slightly less mature than in other regions surveyed. Therefore UK-based IT admins are bearing responsibility for a greater proportion of the more routine and mundane tasks in-house.

This could be contributing to overall job dissatisfaction, and it wasn’t surprising therefore that 30% of surveyed UK respondents said they are now considering engaging an MSP.

Today, there are more than 4,000 MSPs in the UK, and traditionally they used to manage or deliver IT services like infrastructure, security, networking and applications. When IT infrastructure became crucial for business success, organisations started outsourcing their IT processes including infrastructure installation and management, networking, security and data warehouse management; this gave them access to the MSP’s expertise and capabilities without incurring high costs.

But a modern-day managed service provider may now also manage an organisation’s other business needs, such as staffing, payroll, customer engagement and vendor management. In fact, you can find an MSP to handle almost any business process.

UK MSP adoption slower than other countries

Our research showed that 57% of UK IT admins use MSPs to some extent within their IT programme. However, this is 12% lower than the global average and 22% lower than the US. So, while the benefits of working with an MSP are recognised, UK adoption is definitely slower than in the other regions surveyed.
Interestingly, despite half of the UK respondents who don’t use MSPs stating that they prefer to handle IT themselves, the ability of MSPs to increase IT admins’ effectiveness at managing IT was the top named result, highlighted by 53% of MSPs users in the UK and 56% globally.

Unfortunately, the lower-than-average budget expectations for the second half of 2023 indicate that there is no guarantee UK IT 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.

This presents a key disruptive risk for UK SMEs in an environment that is already experiencing a downturn.

Optimising operations by working with MSPs

Therefore, how can SMEs optimise their operations with an MSP? Interestingly, an MSP’s ability to deliver significant results is a belief widely shared by all surveyed IT professionals: 90% of SMEs are either already working with or considering using an MSP. Whether it’s for better security, a better employee experience, increasing admin efficiency, or making the job of IT easier, SME IT admins are reporting broad MSP benefits.

Therefore, now is the time for UK organisations to evaluate how they might engage or look to deepen their MSP investment to best leverage partner expertise for better overall IT operations. Additionally, it is also worth exploring where technology investment could relieve the admin burden, reduce frustration and enable SMEs to retain talent.

Without the appropriate skills, UK SMEs, who are the backbone to the British economy, are being forced to drive with the handbrake on, and this will only continue to stifle any future development and growth. Listening to their IT teams’ experiences, requests and fears offers organisations an incredible opportunity to build an IT environment capable and flexible enough to withstand whatever comes next.

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