IT Trends Report Highlights Need for Network Automation

A survey from cloud-based network management vendor Auvik shows staffing is the No. 1 challenge; plus, a proliferation of AI/ML usage and network tool sprawl.

Dave Raffo, MSP News Editor

April 12, 2024

3 Min Read
Auvik IT Trends report

With use of artificial intelligence (AI)/machine learning (ML) and staffing challenges accelerating, IT teams are prioritizing automation and increasing their outsourcing of several tasks to MSPs, according to Auvik’s IT Trends 2024 Industry Report.

The 2024 report found that 24% more IT professionals plan to invest in automation than a year ago, with 39% saying they planned network automation investments in 2024. That rise appears related to staffing issues overtaking budgets as the greatest challenge to IT, and AI and ML becoming almost ubiquitous with 96% reporting use of AI/ML tools.

The report surveyed 2,100 internal IT and MSP professionals on top trends and challenges impacting IT teams. The survey was conducted on behalf of Auvik, which sells cloud-based network and SaaS management software for MSPs.

Staffing replaced budget as the top IT challenge in the 2024 Auvik IT Trends Report. Nearly half (49%) listed a lack of skilled professionals as the No. 1 challenge, while 47% listed budget. Companies with 251-500 employees are the most likely to face staffing challenges (56%). Infrastructure and performance challenges ranked third after increasing from 27% last year to 38% in 2024.

While almost all IT professionals use AI/ML today, on average, nearly one-third (29%) of network- and SaaS-related tasks are still mostly or completely manually.

A desire to automate opens the door to outsourcing, and approximately three in four (75%) respondents said they outsource some network-related functions. That number didn’t change since the 2023 report but outsourcing of troubleshooting (32% last year to 42% this year), mapping (25% to 35%) and configuration (35% to 44%) all increased significantly. Configuration was the most outsourced task, not surprising because configuration management challenges rose 11% from 2023 to 38% in this year’s report.

Configuration backup, monitoring, troubleshooting, Wi-Fi management and SaaS/cloud management were all outsourced by 40% or more of respondents.

Tool Sprawl Hits IT, Especially in Government

Tools sprawl is another of the IT trends that can feed the need for automation, as 44% of respondents said they work with at least 10 network-related tools in their organizations. Among government respondents, 44% said they use more than 20 network-related tools.

“Tool sprawl is continuing to cannibalize IT team efficiency and is a challenge financially. You obviously don’t buy 10 tools, and they all come with one price,” said John Harden, Auvik senior product marketing manager.

Auvik's John Harden

While AI/ML tools have become common across IT organizations, they are more widely adopted by large companies. Only 74% of MSPs with up to 50 employees and 85% of internal IT teams at companies with fewer than 250 employees said they use AI/ML. That’s far below the overall 96% who reported using AI/ML. Whale Cloud (47%), AISWare (44%) and NetBrain (44%) were the top three AI/ML tools in use.

While AI is the hottest of the IT trends, Harden said he was surprised at just how high the AI usage number was.

“Everybody’s using AI and learning how it can be integrated into every part of the day-to-day management, whether it’s troubleshooting issues, automating tasks, helping to facilitate a meeting,” he said. “AI is everywhere. With the amount of pros leverage AI leads me to believe that they see an opportunity to getter support their customers and drive a better user experience.”

About the Author(s)

Dave Raffo

MSP News Editor, Channel Futures

Dave Raffo has written about IT for more than two decades, focusing mainly on data storage, data center infrastructure and public cloud. He was a news editor and editorial director at TechTarget’s storage group for 13 years, news editor for storage-centric Byte and Switch, and a research analyst for Evaluator Group. In addition to covering news and writing in-depth features and columns, Dave has moderated panels at tech conferences. While at TechTarget, Raffo Dave won several American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE) awards for writing and editing, including for column writing.

Raffo covers the managed services industry for Channel Futures. His reporting beat includes the MSPs, key vendors and tech suppliers with managed services programs, platform providers, distributors and all key players in this sector of the market. Dave also works closely on the Channel Futures MSP 501 and our live events.

Raffo has also worked for United Press International, EdTech magazine, Windows Magazine and Data Center Intelligence Group (DCIG) in reporting, editing and research analyst roles.

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