As interest in hosted systems gains steam, 13% of the respondents said they're beta-testing SaaS offerings, while 12% are taking PaaS for a spin and 8% are piloting IaaS. With all of that cloud activity underway, IT leaders are looking to expand their teams' skill sets: 26% of survey respondents who plan to increase head count in the next 12 months said they intend to hire people with cloud and SaaS skills, putting cloud/SaaS expertise at No. 5 on the list of skills they're seeking.
Roche Bros., a 20-store Boston-area grocery chain, is moving as much of its infrastructure and applications as possible to the SaaS model, says John Lauderbach, the company's vice president of IT. Human resources applications, sign and tag printing systems, backup and recovery tools and even mainstream productivity applications have all been moved to the cloud, helping to reduce costs and provide better reliability and 24/7 availability, according to Lauderbach.
"We are four people [in IT], so for us to manage servers, facilitate patches and do backup and recovery work is a lot," he says. "There are people who do this for a living who can do it better than we can."
4. Mobile apps
As smartphones and tablets become standard fare for consumers and employees alike, IT groups are racing back to the drawing board to retool existing applications to be mobile-friendly while creating new mobile apps to court customers and gain competitive advantage.
In our Forecast 2017 survey, 35% of those polled said they plan to increase spending on mobile systems next year. Nearly 10% said they're beta-testing mobile apps, while 21% of those with hiring plans said they hope to add people with mobile application and device management skills.
Mott Community College in Flint, Mich., has a mobile app to facilitate student services, but it's also in the process of revamping its website to make it more mobile-friendly. Students want access to critical information on their go-to mobile devices, though they aren't married to the idea of a single-purpose app, says CTO Cheryl Shelton.
"We decided to go with an adaptive web design because an app doesn't fit our culture," she says. "We decided to build a robust website and make that work for mobile instead of limiting ourselves and wasting a lot of time keeping an app up to date."
The march toward wholly virtualized IT environments rolls on. Companies are virtualizing more than just desktop systems these days and are beginning to expand their efforts to areas like servers, networks, storage and even mobile infrastructure.
Some form of virtualization will be on the docket for 29% of survey respondents in 2017, and of those who are planning hiring increases next year, 18% said they will be looking for people with expertise in virtualization.
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