IT Industry Outlook 2018

A scan of the 2018 horizon reveals a year that appears to be on the cusp of profound change. And yet, the closer a major leap forward seems, the more one is reminded of the last-mile challenges associated with next generation innovation. While there continues to be a sense of excitement for a future that is rapidly becoming reality, increasingly, questions and concerns are part of the mix as well. The trends unfolding will do so in an environment of higher expectations; namely, for business value, security, transparency, and equal access to opportunity. Against this backdrop, CompTIA explores the forces shaping the information technology industry, its workforce, and its business models in the year ahead.

Key Points

The information technology (IT) sector is poised for another strong year, 5.0 percent growth projected

CompTIA’s IT Industry Business Confidence Index notched one of its highest ratings ever heading into the first quarter of 2018. Executives cite robust customer demand and the uptake of emerging product and service categories as key contributors to the positive sentiment. Revenue growth should follow suit. CompTIA’s consensus forecast projects growth of 5.0 percent across the global tech sector in 2018; and, if everything falls into place, the upside of the forecast could push growth into the 7 percent-plus range. According to IDC, global information technology spending will top $4.8 trillion in 2018, with the U.S. accounting for approximately $1.5 trillion of the market.

An evolving tech labor market will continue to present challenges, as well as opportunities

With employer demand for tech talent routinely outstripping supply, the year ahead will force more organizations to rethink their approaches to recruiting, training, and talent management. Additionally, questions surrounding skills gaps, diversity, alternative education/career paths and the future of work will demand more meaningful attention and resources.

Balancing incrementalism and transformations

Most organizations pursue incremental transitions, upgrading or adding technology piecemeal, followed by adjustments to workflows. CEOs and boardrooms across the economy are waking up to the fact that this approach is often inadequate in the face of rapidly changing industry and customer dynamics. This doesn’t necessarily mean chasing the latest shiny object or moonshot idea, but rather embracing an organizational mindset of proactively planning for a digital future.

Data for the CompTIA IT Industry Outlook 2018 was collected via an online quantitative survey fielded during December 2018 in the US (n=446), Canada (n=121), and the UK (n=107). The complete report is available at no cost to CompTIA premier members and registered users who can access the file at www.CompTIA.org or by contacting research@comptia.org.

GLOBAL IT INDUSTRY GROWTH PROJECTED TO HIT 5.0%
 
 

2018 Trends in Cybersecurity:
Building Effective Security Teams

As cybersecurity has become more complex, traditional methods do not account for the wide range of issues related to securing corporate data and handling privacy concerns. New technology, improved processes, and broad workforce education are all required for a modern security posture. Adopting a new approach requires cultural change within an organization, but it also requires a diverse set of skills. This study examines the ways that businesses are building security teams, using internal and external resources to assemble the expertise needed for security in the digital age.

Key Points

The focal point of security activity for most companies is internal

Whether companies have security resources that are part of a general IT infrastructure team or they have dedicated security resources, 72% of firms believe that their security center of operations is an internal function. With cybersecurity becoming a critical ingredient to operations and reputation, it is no surprise that businesses want to keep a close eye on things.

Even with internal focus, most companies use external resources for security

Among companies that have internal security resources, 78% use third parties for their security needs. This could be an ongoing contract with a third party firm for certain security activities, or it could be the occasional use of third parties for individual projects. In fact, half of the businesses that use external partners use two or three different firms for security purposes, further emphasizing the complex nature of cybersecurity.

Security skills are in need of improvement

Certain skill groups—such as access control or network security—are relatively strong within businesses, while others—such as vulnerability management or security analytics—are weaker. However, even among the strong skills, companies are looking for improvement. For example, 25% of companies say that significant improvement is needed in network security, and an additional 64% say that moderate improvement is needed.

Stronger metrics are needed to quantify security efforts and success

Only 21% of companies say that they heavily use metrics as part of their security efforts. As security moves from defensive tactics to proactive initiatives, metrics such as “percent of systems with formal risk assessment” and “percent of network traffic flagged as anomalous” can serve as measures of success or justification for further investment.

CompTIA’s 2018 Trends in Cybersecurity: Building Effective Security Teams quantitative study consisted of an online survey fielded during August 2018. A total of 402 IT managers based in the US participated in the survey. The complete report is available at no cost to CompTIA premier members and registered users who can access the file at www.CompTIA.org or by contacting research@comptia.org.

MOST COMPANIES WITH INTERNAL SECURITY RESOURCES STILL RELY ON THIRD PARTIES
 
 

7th State of the Channel:
Trends in the Technology Ecosystem

Rapid change is happening across the IT channel today, affecting business models, the competitive landscape, customer types, buying patterns, M&A activity and more.

These changes are also impacting how we define the indirect channel – and even what we call it. For many practitioners, the term “channel” is reaching an expiration date; for others, it’s a label they either don’t recognize for their business, or in some cases, a term they have never heard at all. At CompTIA, we refer to something called the “business of technology,” a concept that applies to any entity involved in selling, influencing and/ or creating IT solutions for their customers. The players in this tech ecosystem run the gamut from traditional resellers to newer SaaS players, to even certain professional services firms. In total, they comprise today’s more diverse channel, whether they use that moniker or not. In this study and for the sake of brevity, the term channel will be used, but be mindful that it is inclusive of the total business of tech ecosystem described above.

Despite years’ worth of pundits predicting gloom and doom for the channel, the ecosystem is chugging along nicely, reinvigorated in many ways by a whole new set of players. Meanwhile, optimism about the future has grown. In 2016, for example, 63% of respondents from CompTIA’s 6th Annual State of the Channel study said that they were generally optimistic about the future of the channel; in 2018 that same number rose to 75%. Gloomy outlooks have tempered as well. The number of channel firms that expressed pessimism about the future over those same two years declined from 16% to just 5%.

While the reasons for more optimism are myriad, it’s clear that attitudes toward the impact of cloud computing have transformed from nearly a decade ago, including over the last two years. The opportunity presented by cloud is cited as the No. 1 reason to feel positive about the channel’s future. More than half (56%) of respondents said this to be the case compared with 39% that felt this way in 2016. Cloud has always been a lightning rod for the channel; one part loving it, one part hating it, and nearly no part able to ignore it. As time has gone on, however, the reality that cloud is now the fundamental enabling infrastructure for IT has sunk in and the channel has had to decide how they were going to use it.

It’s an interesting time to be in the business of technology, for sure. The research in this report highlights a number of dynamics happening across business models, go-to-market strategies, customer interactions, vendor relations, human resources, and training. We also share findings around vertical industry specialization and the extent to which today’s channel firms are incorporating emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, virtual reality, IoT, etc., into their portfolios. Customer demand is driving a groundswell of decisionmaking in the channel today, a trend also explored in this report.

The CompTIA 7th State of the Channel: Trends in the Technology Ecosystem quantitative study consisted primarily of an online survey fielded to 401 IT channel firm executives and managers in the US during June 2018. A separate study was also conducted in the UK. The complete report is available at no cost to CompTIA premier members and registered users who can access the file at www.CompTIA.org or by contacting research@comptia.org.

EXPECTATIONS FOR THE TECH ECOSYSTEM
 
 

Why Software as a Service?
Benefits & Advantages of SaaS

Some of the heaviest software activity happening in the industry today exists in the world of cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). New ISVs, new types of channel firms, existing software purveyors and their longtime channel partners are all getting into the game. And the money is there: Analyst firm Gartner is forecasting the global cloud applications services market to grow 20.1% in 2017 to reach $46.3 billion.

This CompTIA research study explores SaaS activity happening within the channel today. The findings focus on who is offering SaaS, why and in what form. It also takes a look at the typical SaaS customer demographic along with examining the channel and its SaaS vendor relationships.

Key Points

Almost everybody’s getting into the SaaS business

Generally speaking, software of all varieties is the game of the future in the IT industry. But within that category, Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions are leading the way and becoming increasingly strategic in the channel. Case in point: of those channel firm respondents that report deriving at least a portion of their revenue in the last year from cloud-based sales, a whopping 74% of them said some or all of that bounty came from SaaS-related activities.

Customers are driving demand

Why SaaS? The No. 1 reason that channel firms are adding SaaS to their portfolios is customer demand. That’s right, customers of all sizes are eyeing SaaS as they grow more comfortable with all things cloud. Additionally, many of the customers that self-provision SaaS solutions later find they need a third party to help with customization, integration, security and other post-sale services. Other reasons the channel is adding a SaaS practice? The holy grail of a recurring revenue model, for one, and the ability to provide faster deployment time than on-premises software.

Sourcing in SaaS industry is open season

Channel firms source their SaaS solutions in myriad ways, proving that this particular market is entertaining a broad ecosystem of players. Channel firms are working with traditional distributors, SaaS-specific distributors, SaaS ISVs, SaaS applications exchanges and marketplaces. They also source based on the recommendation of end customers.

The Why Software as a Service? Benefits & Advantages of SaaS quantitative study consisted of an online survey fielded to IT and business managers during February 2017. A total of 300 professionals from IT firms based in the US participated. The complete report is available at no cost to CompTIA premier members who can access the file at www.CompTIA.org or by contacting research@comptia.org.

KEY METRICS NEEDED FOR SAAS ROI AND TIME TO PROFITABILITY
 
 

Trends in Cloud Computing

Cloud computing occupies a unique spot in IT history. In its early incarnations, it was the latest in a series of new models for IT operations. Existing systems were migrated to cloud providers, and companies found benefits in cost and flexibility while working through issues around security and integration. Today, though, cloud offers a path for business transformation. Powerful new capabilities and complex automation can completely change not just the role of the IT department, but the entire organization. As such, cloud computing bridges two eras of enterprise technology, moving IT from a heavily tactical function to a valuable strategic asset.

Key Points

Cloud computing is a critical part of today’s IT operations

Although cloud computing has ceded the spotlight to emerging trends such as artificial intelligence or Internet of Things, it has become a foundational piece for modern IT architecture. Nearly half of all companies claim that 31% to 60% of their IT systems are cloud-based, and many firms are exploring optimization and orchestration to get the most out of the new models.

The IT function is evolving in a cloud world

Rather than disappearing or shrinking as many feared, the IT function is transforming to handle more strategic work as routine pieces can be offloaded to cloud providers. Common changes fall into three buckets: policies (51% of companies have built new policies for cloud usage), skills (39% of companies have added skills or restructured their internal team), and tools (36% have adapted IT tools to manage cloud resources).

The challenges of cloud migration are outweighed by the benefits

As cloud adoption enters later stages of maturity, companies are encountering new hurdles. Integration is still the main challenge, but the next two (workflow modification and policy change) highlight organizational issues that follow initial technical efforts. However, there is clearly a wide range of benefits, with smaller companies improving implementation, mid-sized firms modernizing their IT environments, and large enterprises streamlining their processes.

Cloud is a key enabler for emerging technology

The rising interest in cutting-edge trends is driven largely by cloud computing. By providing access to new tools or allowing companies to consolidate their datasets, cloud simplifies the process of exploring new topics and lowers the cost. In addition, cloud plays a role in stitching together technology for broad applications. Eighty-one percent of companies say that cloud has greatly enhanced or moderately enhanced their efforts around automation.

This Trends in Cloud Computing quantitative study consisted of an online survey fielded among 502 IT managers in the US during April 2018. The complete report is available at no cost to CompTIA premier members and registered users who can access the file at www.CompTIA.org or by contacting research@comptia.org.

AREAS ADDRESSED BY NEW OR UPDATED CLOUD POLICIES
 
 

Diversity in the High-Tech Industry

Diversity issues related to the high-tech industry can’t be missed in the news today. Whether it is a story about pay inequity among men and women, or research showing that the industry workforce composition is largely homogeneous, the headlines are unavoidable. CompTIA’s research found that 7 in 10 people working in the high-tech industry today say they have heard or read about workplace diversity issues in the last 12 months.

Key Points

The diversity discussion is often contradictory

Consider the following data points: nearly 8 in 10 high-tech industry workers say they are satisfied with their organization’s diversity efforts, 44% say diversity is a high priority for their employers, and 87% say they’ve worked in a department comprised of a diverse group of employees in the last year. At the same time, 45% say the industry has lagged in promoting diversity, a position backed by statistics from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that find a workforce overwhelmingly white and male, with fewer African Americans, women and Hispanics than non-tech industries.

The gender gap is widest when it comes to pay equity

Pay inequity resonates loudly with women, no surprise. Two-thirds of women in high tech said they would leave their job if they discovered pay imbalances among employees doing equal work. That compares with 44% of men who said the same. Promotions are an issue too. A report last year by non-profit Ascend Foundation found that Asian Americans were least likely of all races to reach management level despite having more workers in the sector than other non-white races.

Diverse workforces spur innovation

Sixty-four percent of respondents said they agree that an organization with a heterogeneous employee base is more likely to produce world-class innovation than one with that is largely homogeneous in makeup. Another 28% at least partially agree with that premise, while just 9% disagree. The near-consensus on diversity’s impact on innovation spans all segments of the survey sample, including small, medium and large organizations, all age groups, genders, races and ethnicities.

Hiring the most qualified candidate carries weight

Of all the actions that an organization can take to get a passing grade when it comes to diversity, hiring the best candidate for the job tops the list. Forty-eight percent of respondents said this is what they value most. Other things they find important: a human resources department that actively recruits a diverse workforce; a top-down corporate culture that is diversity-friendly; an environment where diversity efforts do not overshadow all other strategic goals; formal inclusion initiatives to reduce turnover among minority employees; and the existence of an official diversity policy/report.

The Diversity in the High-Tech Industry quantitative study consisted of two online surveys fielded during October-November 2017 in the US. The first surveyed 400 IT and business professionals employed at high-tech firms. The second surveyed 200 business workers outside the high-tech industry. The complete report is available at no cost to CompTIA premier members and registered users who can access the file at www.CompTIA.org or by contacting research@comptia.org.

PERCEPTIONS OF DIVERSITY-RELATED NEWS IN THE LAST YEAR
 
 

Building Smarter Cities and Communities

Conceptually, the smart cities trend can be described as the application of technology to solve problems within cities and communities. Most citizens, businesses, and local government leadership can readily cite visible problems, such as traffic congestion or parking headaches, that could benefit from technology. While these types of use cases are a good starting point for the smart cities discussion, there is much more to the story, especially as it relates to behind-the-scenes innovations. The breadth of possibilities, and the accompanying complexities and unknowns, present as many questions as answers at this point. This latest research – based on opinions of citizens and government, provides further insight into how smart cities and communities are developing and what to expect going forward.

Key Points

Elevating the understanding of smart city concepts will take time; ‘bridge technologies’ can help

Despite the growing number of smart city initiatives underway, the trend still has a ways to go before it fully resonates with stakeholders. CompTIA research indicates familiarity among citizens, especially those in smaller towns and rural areas, is low. Among segments of government, familiarity is only slightly better. The emergence of a wide-range of smart technologies for home or business use is starting to provide exposure to virtual assistants, artificial intelligence, predictive analytics, robotics, and more.

Making the leap from digital to smart requires advances on many fronts

Most municipalities are on the digital continuum, meaning some level of e-government services are provided to citizens or technology used in an operational capacity. To make the leap from digital to smart, however, requires more than deploying a new mobile app and a few sensors. Rather, it typically requires a re-thinking of everything from IT architecture and broadband infrastructure, to workflows, user experience (UX), staff training and more. Smart cities must be built on smart foundations.

Data is critical to smart city success...and one of the most challenging components to get right

There are many moving parts to the data component of smart city pursuits. Given the countless examples of private sector firms wrestling with big data challenges after years of effort, it must be assumed local governments, many of which lack deep data expertise, will face many data-related hurdles.

This Building Smarter Cities and Communities research was conducted in two parts. Part I consisted of a quantitative survey fielded to 1,000 US households, referred to as citizens throughout the narrative. Part II consisted of a quantitative survey fielded to 350 US government officials and personnel. The sample targeted local government, but also included secondary representation from state and federal government respondents. Data collection for both surveys occurred during September 2017. The complete report is available at no cost to CompTIA premier members and registered users who can access the file at www.CompTIA.org or by contacting research@comptia.org.

GOVERNMENT PERCEPTIONS OF SMART CITY VALUE PROPOSITION
 
 

Understanding Emerging Technology: Blockchain

The rise of Bitcoin has rapidly led to interest in blockchain, the underlying technology behind emerging cryptocurrencies and a range of other possibilities. If a new technology can redefine the concept of currency and disrupt the entire financial system, what can it do for business applications?

Given that blockchain functions more as a building block rather than a tangible product, the level of awareness is low—just 1 in 5 companies have recently consumed some type of information about blockchain. Those companies, though, appear to be the ones most interested in pursuing blockchain opportunities. Among the companies with some awareness, there is a relatively high incidence of a strong knowledge base or an existing business impact.

With blockchain being featured in more and more headlines, it is a primary example of technology that has a gap between “theoretically possible” and “practically achievable.” Certainly Bitcoin is a viable form of currency (especially among developers of ransomware), and this leading application has led to serious exploration within the financial industry. Other active use cases are less common, and Gartner projects that blockchain is 5-10 years away from mass adoption.

Defining Blockchain

At a high level, blockchain has a simple description: it is a method for recording transactional information. Rather than keeping a record of all transactions in a central location, blockchain utilizes a distributed ledger. For a given activity, a copy of the full ledger with all transactions is kept on each node in a distributing network. The blockchain method provides many benefits over centralized forms of record-keeping, including transparency of data and no single point of failure.

However, the distributed nature of the technology also highlights one of the primary adoption challenges. Blockchain implementations utilize a broad network, and replacement of a centralized system requires the participation of everyone in that system. So a very large organization with an internal system could take on its own blockchain project; a system with multiple parties and an independent central agency needs coordination and cooperation.

Blockchain technology has many layers. There are several different blockchain protocols on the market, with different protocols built using different consensus algorithms or different legacy integration methods. Bitcoin is the most well-known protocol, with other examples such as Ethereum or Ripple gaining traction. Many vendors are creating services on top of these protocols, such as IBM’s Blockchain as a Service (based on the Hyperledger Fabric protocol) or Microsoft’s Coco framework (compatible across multiple protocols).

Ultimately, most businesses will not need to understand blockchain specifics if they are not directly developing new applications. Rather, they will invest in new blockchain-based applications as vendors leverage benefits in cost, security, or agility.

This Understanding Emerging Technology: Blockchain research brief is part of a larger study conducted by CompTIA on the awareness and application of emerging technology. Other topics in this series include: artificial intelligence, VR/AR, and automation. The quantitative study consisted of an online survey among 701 IT and business professionals in the US during September 2017. The complete report is available at no cost to CompTIA premier members and registered users who can access the file at www.CompTIA.org or by contacting research@comptia.org.

FAMILIARITY WITH BLOCKCHAIN
 
 

Managing the Multigenerational Workforce

Today’s workforce is undergoing a seismic shift in generational makeup, a change in basic composition that has serious management implications for corporations facing an employee base whose ages span a huge chasm – in many cases 40 years or more. For companies, managing across many age groups is no small feat when you consider the differences in skill sets, work habits, employer loyalty, training needs, and preferences for the type of IT tools they use. External market factors are also in play: the rapid pace of technological change, new ways information is shared and stored in the cloud, the advent of social media, and the impact of automation among other factors. The result? A workforce in flux.

Key Points

Majority of Millennials consider use of technology when evaluating current or future employers

A company’s technology capabilities play an important role in attracting the best talent especially for younger employees. The role of technology seems to be more of a factor today when compared to previous years – in 2015 and 2017, 65% and 67% of Millennials, respectively, reported technology being a factor in the employment decision. Younger workers are more apt to feel their company is pushing the envelope, suggesting that they are taking greater advantage of technology being offered or are seeking out tech-savvy employers.

Driven by Millennials, cloud-based applications continue to make gains in the workplace

When it comes to the use of software applications for work-related purposes, 51% of Millennials report using online/cloud-based tools for word processing/spreadsheets compared to 33% of Boomers. Use of collaboration tools such as Slack, Dropbox etc. is higher among younger workers. Millennials are also looking for the faster implementation of new technologies and improved collaboration tools. Older employees want more of a focus on making existing technology more user-friendly.

Generational cohorts have similar career goals, but don’t always see the workplace in the same way

Across generations, a slight majority of employees note that they find themselves close to where they expect to be in their careers. Workers of all ages share a desire for financial security, rewarding work, and worklife balance. Differences begin to emerge, however, in their views toward stereotypes in the workplace. Nearly half of Millennials believe stereotypes are at least somewhat of an issue in the workplace compared to fewer than 1 in 3 older workers.

Data for CompTIA’s Managing the Multigenerational Workforce study was collected via an online quantitative survey fielded during November 2017. A total of 1,000 business professionals across age groups based in the US participated in the survey. The complete report is available at no cost to CompTIA premier members and registered users who can access the file at www.CompTIA.org or by contacting research@comptia.org.

ROLE OF TECHNOLOGY IN SHAPING VIEWS OF EMPLOYERS
 
 

Planning a Modern IT Architecture

The practice of enterprise architecture planning is usually found only in the largest organizations and government agencies. The complexity of massive IT efforts is often addressed with equally complex planning strategies, and smaller businesses do not have the resources or the appetite for such heavy investments.

Today, though, the critical nature of technology and radically new models for IT delivery are making architectural planning a necessity. Just as a business plan is required to chart the future of a company, an IT architecture plan is required to build success in a digital economy.

Key Points

Architectural planning is tightly coupled with digital transformation

As companies transform into digital organizations, they are not only adding new technology, but also building new structure and processes. Overall business operations are changing, and the goal of enterprise architecture planning is to start with corporate goals and move backwards to the optimal technology solution. This is not just an IT activity, but it gives IT a new role to play within the organization.

Long-term planning will be a new exercise for most firms

Only 34% of firms claim to currently build IT architecture strategies beyond a 12-month window. Although the pace of technology is increasing, it is still difficult to consider far-reaching changes to an IT environment without a broader horizon. Companies cite the need for improvement across all four functional areas of IT, and one of the primary benefits of architectural planning is the ability to prioritize investments across different areas.

Cloud computing highlights a need for planning

Initial adoption of cloud computing typically involves the use of a SaaS application or migration of an existing system into cloud infrastructure. While these activities present some significant challenges, they are still relatively simple compared to a full transformation into a cloud-first operation. The top challenge for companies as they utilize cloud solutions is integration with existing systems, showing that in-depth planning is needed to maximize the benefits of a cloud strategy.

The need for planning will grow with IoT

Most companies are in the early stages of adoption with Internet of Things, with few companies actively starting IoT initiatives and most waiting on the sidelines while they build knowledge around the technology. However, it is clear even in these early days that IoT typically starts from a business objective rather than an existing IT practice. This focus on corporate goals along with the broad range of technology needed for a full IoT implementation creates a compelling case for strategic planning.

This Planning a Modern IT Architecture quantitative study consisted of an online survey fielded among 500 US IT and business professionals during May 2017. The complete report is available at no cost to CompTIA premier members and registered users who can access the file at www.CompTIA.org or by contacting research@comptia.org.

TYPES OF IT ARCHITECTURE PLANNING
 
 

Role of Confidence Gap in Tech Career Development

The concept of ‘confidence’ elicits many reactions. Some immediately jump to overconfidence and the resulting obnoxious or risk-taking behaviors that accompany it. Some may think it terms of athletes where an individual may get rattled and lose confidence in his or her ability to perform. Still others may see confidence in terms of well-being and emotional intelligence. One facet of confidence often overlooked is its role in career pathways, specifically as it relates to careers in information technology (IT). This CompTIA research study of 1,000 18- to 34-yearolds explores the confidence gap and what it means to the tech workforce pipeline.

Key Points

Confidence gap more prevalent than commonly acknowledged

The data suggests the confidence gap is not an isolated issue, but rather a factor affecting large segments of young people (age 18 to 34 in this study), that may be considering a career in information technology. Fully 7 in 10 of these individuals cite confidence as a factor that contributes to discouragement, which may hinder or thwart altogether someone taking the first step towards a career in technology.

Confidence gap encompasses a number of real and perceived barriers

In the context of this study, the confidence gap can be thought of as the sum of fears and concerns affecting an individual’s decisions or perceptions of pursuing a tech career. Among survey respondents, the confidence gap component cited most often was concern over lacking certain skills, such as math or science skills. Relatedly, the fear of starting too far behind ranked second, followed by the fear of failure - starting something and not being able to finish it.

Lack of encouragement complicates confidence gap

Millennials catch a lot of flak. It’s not uncommon to see stereotypes portraying Millennials as too coddled, too entitled, or too narcissistic. Beyond the ridiculousness of generalizing across 71 million individuals, the data suggests otherwise. Overall, less than half (44%) of 18- to 34-year-olds report receiving encouragement from someone in their life, such as, parents, teachers, guidance counselors, etc., to consider pursuing a career in technology. While this is a case of correlation not implying causation, it is notable that individuals that did cross over into the consideration camp for a career in technology report receiving encouragement at significantly higher rates than those that have not, 74% vs. 18%.

Career pathways may become even more confusing and precarious due to automating technologies

Most young adults report following stories on how robotics, artificial intelligence, and automating technologies will impact the workforce. As expected, there is a level of concern. Not surprisingly, views are mixed as to perceptions of what it means to them personally and to the future of work.

Data for CompTIA’s Role of Confidence Gap in Tech Career Development study was collected via an online quantitative survey fielded during July 2018. A total of 1,000 individuals 18-34 years of age based in the US participated in the survey. The complete report is available at no cost to CompTIA premier members and registered users who can access the file at www.CompTIA.org or by contacting research@comptia.org.

PERCEPTIONS OF CONFIDENCE GAP
 
 

Operational Efficiency in the Channel

As part of embracing new business models, channel firms must optimize operations to maximize profits. This is no easy task as it involves many moving parts, from sales and marketing to finance, human resources to supply chain, to name a few. Achieving operational efficiency requires an unflinching examination of how well – or not – operations run today, especially before taking the plunge into a new business model. For this study, CompTIA research took a look at how channel firms self-assess their current state of process and operational efficiency, where they see areas of success and challenges, and what actions they are or will be taking to shore up their businesses for the future.

Key Points

Business transformation is accelerating

The number of channel firms that report experiencing a high-degree of business transformation nearly doubled between 2013 and 2017, while the percentage of those acknowledging a low-degree of transformation dropped nearly 10 points during that same time frame. Just 12% of respondents placed themselves on the more advanced level of the transformation process in 2013, compared with 22% in 2017. In general, most respondents – just more than half – characterize their degree of business transformation as moderate today.

Shifting gears puts spotlight on operations, processes

Customer demand, emerging technologies, and the cloud are the main drivers behind the changes the channel is making today. All this activity places even more emphasis on running a tight ship operationally, whether a company is moving to a new business model or just trying to boost its bottom line. Respondents said operational efficiency and process improvement is the No. 1 necessity to reach overall business goals. They also said operations are getting more complex today. Nearly half (45%) said that operating their business has become more complex than it was two years ago.

Getting better, but a ways to go operationally

Two in 10 respondents assessed their current state of operations as very efficient, with another 39% deeming themselves mostly efficient at present. Thirty-six percent ranked in the middle of the pack in terms of efficiency, with some areas in good standing, others not. Six percent admitted being inefficient to varying degrees. Of best practices respondents believe are critical to improvement, the top two are calculating ROI/time to profitability before embarking on new projects, and creating repeatable processes across the company. In terms of specific business areas, respondents say they are most efficient at inventory management, and least efficient at the sales process.

It’s all about profitability

Profit margin leaks are cited as a major concern by channel firms, as is commoditization and price pressure. One way to combat? Process efficiency and running a lean organization. Three of the five reasons cited for not fully maximizing profits related to process: ineffective service delivery operations, ineffective sales processes, and ineffective financial performance tracking.

This Operational Efficiency in the Channel quantitative study consisted of an online survey fielded to IT and business managers during December 2017. A total of 400 professionals from IT firms based in the US participated. The complete report is available at no cost to CompTIA premier members who can access the file at www.CompTIA.org or by contacting research@comptia.org.

OPERATIONAL EFFICIENCY: A SELF-ASSESSMENT ON CURRENT STATUS
 
 

Tech Trade Snapshot: Imports and Exports of Tech Products and Services

U.S. information technology1 exports reached an estimated $322 billion in 2017, an increase of 3.1 percent over the previous year. Tech is one of the largest sectors for exports in the U.S. economy.

Nationally, tech exports directly supported over 800,000 jobs in 2016, the most recent year of available data. Tech product exports accounted for the majority of these jobs (70 percent), with tech services the remainder (30 percent).

Exports account for approximately $1 out of every $4 generated in the U.S. tech industry. For many tech bellwethers, exports account for an even higher percentage of sales, with some generating more than half of their revenue overseas.

Tech products exports rose 3.0 percent to $208 billion in 2017. Leading the growth in this sector were exports of semiconductors, which increased by $3.9 billion (+7.2 percent) and computer equipment, up $1.1 billion (+2.5 percent) from 2016.

Tech services have increased by 6.1 percent year-over-year since 2007. Between 2007 and 2016, R&D services increased by $21.6 billion (+10.2 percent annually), and IT services increased by $10.0 billion (+10.4 percent annually).

U.S. tech exports to Canada and Mexico totaled $75.0 billion in 2016, or about 24.0 percent of all U.S. tech exports. In 2017, the United States ran an $18.7 billion surplus in tech products with Canada, larger than any other country.

In the Asia and Pacific region, China is the largest market for U.S. tech exports. U.S. tech exports to China reached an estimated $19.0 billion in 2016, an increase of approximately 3.9 percent year-over-year since 2007.

The leading trading partners for U.S. tech product exports and imports remained largely unchanged from 2016. In 2017, the top 10 markets accounted for 67 percent of all tech product exports, while the top 10 source countries accounted for 89 percent of all tech product imports.

The CompTIA Tech Trade Snapshot is based on an analysis of import and export data from the U.S. Office of Trade Policy and Analysis, U.S. International Trade Administration, U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, and The Trade Partnership’s CDxports database. The complete report is available at no cost to CompTIA premier members and registered users who can access the file at www.CompTIA.org or by contacting research@comptia.org.

TECH PRODUCT + SERVICES EXPORTS
 
 

UK IT Employment Snapshot

There were more than 240,000 core information technology (IT) job postings in the UK during 2018 Q2 according to Burning Glass Technologies Labour Insights.

In relation to the entire UK job market, there were 2.2 million total postings for the same 2018 Q2 period. At more than 1 in 10, IT postings continue to represent a substantial portion of all UK job postings (11%).

The number of job postings may vary widely over time. Compared to one year ago, IT postings have decreased (a -29% change over 2017 Q2). Postings are also down from last quarter (-27% from Q1) after experiencing a double-digit positive gain from 2017 Q4 to 2018 Q1 (+17%). Note: not all postings1 translate to a hire.

According to the Office for National Statistics, the UK unemployment rate was 4.2% for the 3-month period ending May 2018 (same rate as the previous 3 months). This is down from 4.5% a year earlier and the lowest unemployment rate since 1975.

There were 32.40m people in employment between March and May 2018 (up by 388,000 more than a year earlier), vs. 1.41m unemployed people looking for work (84,000 fewer than the year earlier).

The size of the IT workforce in the UK continues to grow year over year, increasing by 2% to 1.26m in 2017 from 1.24m in 2016. Furthermore, 4% growth is projected for the five-year period 2017-2022 (53,000+ jobs).

The CompTIA UK IT Employment Snapshot is based on a quarterly analysis of IT job postings (Burning Glass Technologies) and IT workforce data (ONS and Emsi). The complete report is available at no cost to CompTIA premier members and registered users who can access the file at www.CompTIA.org or by contacting research@comptia.org.

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CompTIA Research and Market Intelligence

CompTIA Research and Market Intelligence provides timely, relevant data and insights aimed at informing and driving the IT industry. CompTIA has a library of over 100 research reports, whitepapers, briefs, podcasts, videos and webinars, with new material produced each month. Using rigorous research techniques, CompTIA collects data from tens of thousands of end users and IT companies on a wide range of issues covering tech trends, channel dynamics and the IT workforce.

Premier members cannot get access to this amount of independent and vendorneutral data for the money anywhere else. Our studies are uniquely designed to address the informational needs of the IT industry. CompTIA analysts are dedicated to measuring, tracking, exploring and explaining technology adoption, business attitudes and workforce issues in order to forecast new industry opportunities and growth.

CompTIA Premier members enjoy full access to the library covering various topics such as:

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For more information about CompTIA Research and Market Intelligence visit www.CompTIA.org/insight-tools or contact research@comptia.org.