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JumpCloud report reveals SMEs conflicted about AI


JumpCloud today announced the findings from its Q1 2024 small to medium-sized enterprise (SME) IT Trends Report, “State of IT 2024: The Rise of AI, Economic Uncertainty, and Evolving Security Threats”. The report provides updated survey results and new findings to the company’s biannual SME IT Trends Report, which was first released in June 2021.

The latest edition of the report delves into the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on identity management, security challenges, economic uncertainties, and the growing reliance on managed service providers (MSPs) in IT operations. 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 admins in the US, UK, and India, indicates how quickly AI has impacted identity management and highlights that IT professionals have both big hopes and big fears in their response to it. With a strong majority of respondents both planning or actively implementing within the next year and advocating for AI investment, IT leaders clearly see potential benefits from deploying AI in their workplaces. But IT admins report notable concerns around their organisations’ current ability to secure against related threats—and personal concerns about AI’s impact on their career.

“While AI is the buzzword that grabs headlines, it’s security that remains a paramount concern for IT teams given the increasing sophistication of external threats and rising regulatory pressures,” said Rajat Bhargava, CEO, JumpCloud. “And it’s only getting worse. We found that 56% of admins agree that they’re more concerned about their organisation’s security posture now than they were six months ago. To reduce this complexity and anxiety, organisations should look toward solutions that offer a unified, open identity and IT management approach. This can enhance security, mitigate operational disruptions, and alleviate admin burnout.”

Key findings include:

AI adoption: Optimism and concerns

A vast majority of admins see AI as a net positive for their organisation and think their organisation is approaching AI at the right pace—though this optimism is tempered by significant concerns about AI’s potential impact on security and individual careers. 

Topline AI findings include:

  • Organisations are actively planning for AI: Just 13% of organisations do not currently have any plans to implement AI initiatives and 76% agree their organisation should be investing in AI.
  • Admins optimistic about AI: 79% report that AI will be a net positive, versus just 6% who see it as a net negative. Most admins agree their organisations are approaching AI adoption at exactly the right speed (55%). Roughly equal amounts think they are moving too quickly (22%) or too slow (19%).
  • IT teams are wary about AI’s potential for organisational security and career: 62% agree that AI is outpacing their organisation’s ability to protect against threats overall and nearly half (45%) worry about AI’s impact on their job. 

Uncertainty for IT

The start of 2024 finds SMEs continuing to wrestle with economic uncertainties and IT teams unsure about what that means for their organisations and their operations.

Topline IT management findings include: 

  • Concerns about layoffs persist: 57% of organisations have experienced layoffs over the last year. Just over a quarter (27%) haven’t experienced layoffs and don’t expect any over the next six months.
  • Admins worried about the impact of budget cuts on security: 72% agree that any cuts to their security budget will increase organizational risk, and 56% are more concerned about their organisations’ security posture than they were six months ago.
  • Licensing costs increase while compliance mandates expand: 88% report vendors have increased prices over the last six months, and 76% report increased compliance and regulations requirements in their region. 
  • Device environments require IT flexibility, with Windows use down and macOS and Linux use up year-over-year: The average device type breakdown in SMEs is Windows at 60% (down from 64% in April 2023), macOS at 22% (up from 20% in April 2023), and Linux at 22% (up from 16% in April 2023). 
  • IT admins want centralized IT: 75% of IT professionals would prefer a single tool to do their job over a number of point solutions. In practice, admins most commonly need five to 10 applications to manage worker lifecycle (37%), though nearly one-quarter (22%) need 11 or more, and nearly 1 in 10 (9%) require more than 15 applications to manage worker lifecycle.

Security challenges persist as admins adjust their response 

IT teams continue to report that security concerns continue to dominate among the various challenges and responsibilities they manage. With the rise of AI and the evolving sophistication of cybersecurity threats, IT admins are adapting their responses and deploying additional layers of protection. 

Topline security findings include:

  • IT admins’ biggest challenge is security: 56% report security is the biggest IT challenge, followed by new services and application rollouts (45%), increased work burden (44%), followed by the cost of remote work solutions (42%).
  • Biometrics adoption up, though password-based systems are stubborn: While 83% of organisations use password-based authentication for some IT resources, 83% also require multi-factor authentication (MFA) and two-thirds require biometrics (66%)—even though 67% of IT professionals agree that adding additional security measures means a more cumbersome experience. The average employee has three to five passwords to log into their IT resources, though 15% of employees average 10 passwords or more.
  • The biggest security threats remain the same: The three biggest security concerns now are the same ones from April 2023. IT admins reported network attacks were their biggest challenge (40%), followed by software vulnerability exploits (34%) and ransomware (29%).

MSPs play major role in IT operations

MSPs are increasingly crucial to SME IT operations as increasing numbers of SMEs are turning to them for IT management. 

Topline MSP findings include:

  • MSPs taking over IT for SMEs: While 76% of SMEs rely on an MSP for some features, 42% of organisations use an MSP to completely manage their IT environment, a 56% increase from April 2023.
  • Organisations relying on MSPs for variety of functions: System security is the most common area for why SMEs use MSPs (57%) followed by cloud storage (52%), system monitoring (51%), system management (47%), managed backup (40%), hardware procurement (34%), business continuity/disaster recovery (32%), help desk (35%), and change management (27%).
  • MSPs are seen to offer a broad range of benefits: The top reasons SMEs report using an MSP are that they are up to date on the latest technologies (65%), they can provide a better user experience (60%), and they are cost-effective (57%).

Survey Methodology: 

JumpCloud surveyed 1,213 SME IT decision-makers in the UK, US, and India, 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, from November 14, 2023 to November 27, 2023.

The findings from the JumpCloud Q1 2024 SME IT Trends Report can be found in “State of IT 2024: The Rise of AI, Economic Uncertainty, and Evolving Security Threats,” here.

(Editor’s note: This article is sponsored by JumpCloud)

Tags: ai, artificial intelligence, enterprise, jumpcloud, report, research, study


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