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IT Pros Say They're Undervalued in the Workplace

  • May 05, 2016

New Survey from Kensington Reveals IT Professionals' Priorities & Challenges

As the global economy grows ever more dependent on the fast-evolving IT sector, the perspectives of IT professionals on their challenges and opportunities take on greater weight. According to a new survey commissioned by Kensington, a worldwide leader of desktop computing and mobility solutions for IT, business and home office professionals, many IT professionals in fact believe that IT is being sorely undervalued in the workplace.

The survey, which polled IT pros in the U.S., UK and Australia and was conducted through Spiceworks' “Voice of IT” network, addresses a broad spectrum of factors crucial to implementing and assessing IT in the business environment: strategy, security, budget, productivity barriers to improvement, helpdesk commitments, administrative pressures, time allocation and employee wellness.

Yet it is the perceived value of IT – or lack thereof – that appears to be the subject of the survey's most noteworthy findings. The fact that many IT professionals “juggle wearing multiple hats and, dealing with ‘human issues’ in particular,” may detract from the value they are able to deliver to their organizations, according to the survey report.

When asked about the personality with which they most identify, 32 percent of survey respondents felt they were most like a firefighter – but, as the report states, “in spending so much time dealing with employee errors and administrative tasks, there’s a chance [IT professionals’] talents are undervalued and underutilized.”

Survey respondents also specified their complaints about organizations’ overall commitment to IT – which ranged from no or low budget allocation and lack of management understanding, to limited training for end-users. In fact, 44 percent complained they were hampered by lack of time/resources; 40 percent cited insufficient budget; 36 percent felt IT was perceived as a cost, not as an opportunity; and 28 percent grumbled that employees disregard the “rules.”

Other Key Findings:


Security, not surprisingly, was afforded the top budget priority of the IT professionals surveyed, followed by employee connectivity/uptime and employee set up/workspace configuration. Human error, lack of process or “employees not following” established processes, and external threats were seen as the biggest IT security risks to organizations. (Employee training is considered a vital component of corporate security – yet the survey found that just five percent of IT professionals’ time was allocated to training.)


The survey respondents also cited hardware/infrastructure refresh and OS updates as important for 2016. However, big data and cloud technology were acknowledged as higher priorities by companies in Australia, compared to businesses in the U.S. and the UK. 

Employee Wellness

Respondents appear to be increasingly focused on employee wellness, but they still have some way to go to meet employees’ expectations. Just over half of IT professionals reported they had not received any requests from colleagues or employees regarding their wellness – possibly due to a lack of awareness of the options open to them.


IT professionals want to spend more time on IT strategy, but insufficient budget, lack of time/resources, and a prevailing attitude within their organizations that technology is a cost, not an opportunity, are reported barriers.

Productivity and Adoption of New Technology

Improved or upgraded systems and multi-screening/monitors/displays are the most common technology measures implemented specifically to improve performance across all three countries. The U.S. and UK have similar rates of cloud adoption, with roughly one-third of organizations having already shifted to some extent. Organizations in Australia have so far placed more emphasis on BYOD than their counterparts in the U.S. and UK, but U.S. employees are driving change, rather than organizational top-down initiatives.


Industry-level conversation may be focused on issues such as BYOD, but day-to-day, much time is spent dealing with general maintenance issues. IT professionals spend 35 percent of their time dealing with user helpdesk support and administrative matters.


If the current scenario were to be switched, and IT resources freed and empowered to focus on improving productivity, IT professionals may feel more valued – while the organizations they work for could receive greater value in return.

“Perhaps the single most important finding from this survey is that IT professionals say they are viewed as a ‘cost,’ not an ‘opportunity,’ said Kensington Global Vice President Ben Thacker. “The challenge IT pros must confront is how to change this perception within their organizations, so that they are seen as enablers, not problem solvers. As enablers, IT is better positioned to align with business objectives on a level that supports priority initiatives such as network security. Even more critical, the change in perception must extend to the strategic value IT can provide that ultimately facilitates the growth and success their organizations are striving to achieve.” 

Observing the dominance of the firefighter role, Ben Hawkes, business psychologist and Director of, commented, “IT professionals are far from alone in being firefighters: their colleagues across all business functions – from sales, to HR, to finance – feel the same way. Part of the problem is that IT professionals make great firefighters, but then that’s how they get pigeonholed by their colleagues outside of IT.”

To overcome this issue, Hawkes devised three top tips to empower IT managers:

  1. It’s easy to focus on tasks that are High Importance and High Urgency. That’s firefighting. But strategy and proactivity are HILU: High Importance and Low Urgency.
  2. Carve out time — every day if possible — to devote to HILU tasks. Set aside time not just in your schedule, but also in meetings and in conversations with your manager to discuss strategy and proactivity.
  3. If you think your non-IT colleagues don’t understand what IT does, you’re right. And only IT can change that. Make your work visible to your organization through regular communications, newsletters or even roadshows.

Notes to editors

About Kensington

Kensington is a leading provider of desktop and mobile device accessories, trusted by IT, educators, business and home office professionals around the world for more than 35 years. Kensington products empower people to dynamically interact with content, creating a better working experience for productive performance. In both office and mobile environments, Kensington’s extensive portfolio of award-winning products provides trusted security, desktop productivity innovations, and ergonomic well-being. Our core competencies in engineering, industrial design, product quality and responsive customer support make Kensington The Professionals’ Choice.

Headquartered in San Mateo, California, Kensington operates as the technology division of ACCO Brands (NYSE: ACCO), one of the world’s largest designers, marketers and manufacturers of branded business, academic and consumer products, sold in more than 100 countries across the globe.

Kensington is the inventor and worldwide leader in laptop security locks, the acknowledged leader of Trackball innovation and offers a broad range of premium-branded desktop productivity solutions.