Automation has emerged as the number one top new initiative planned this year among IT leaders, and a major reason could be to offset restricted budgets and limited hiring power.

By a significant margin, IT leaders say they have the greatest confidence in their ability to manage, automation projects (cited by 57 percent) versus five other new technology initiatives surveyed by TEKsystems, the IT staffing and services arm of Allegis Group.

The survey was conducted to gain insights on where IT execs are placing their strategic and spending priorities for the remainder of this year, and the level of confidence they have in being able to find IT talent with the necessary knowledge of required programming skills.

The survey revealed that top priorities for new initiatives are:

  • 57 percent said automation
  • 40 percent said digital transformation
  • 36 percent said digital marketing or customer experience
  • 27 percent said the Internet of Things
  • 12 percent said artificial intelligence
  • 7 percent said augmented reality

A major factor that could be driving interest in automation is the impact of level-funded IT budgets, the study explains.

“It is evident that IT hiring and budgets have not increased at expected levels, and IT leaders may be looking to automation to keep teams efficient, highly productive and consistent,” the study says.

“It’s no surprise organizations place automation at the top of their lists for new initiatives,” noted Jason Hayman, research manager at TEKsystems. “With talent pipelines potentially becoming more restricted, automation is a practical solution to maintain or improve efficiencies within the business, and advances in technology create more confidence around its implementation.”

Despite overall budget restraints, IT leaders are apparently feeling pretty good about their departments and the ability to tackle new implementations. Five of these six technology areas all scored within five percentage points in terms of how confident the IT leader is at satisfying and supporting each initiative.

The survey results were:

  • 69 percent said automation
  • 60 percent said digital transformation
  • 60 percent said artificial intelligence
  • 58 percent said the Internet of Things
  • 57 percent said digital marketing or customer experience
  • 36 percent said augmented reality

“The majority of IT leaders surveyed are currently supporting automation initiatives to improve productivity and accountability, and are highly confident in their ability to do so,” the study noted. “The heightened level of interest in automation may also be due to the fact that it is often considered a foundational element for successful digital transformation and digital marketing.”

The study also looked at the most difficult to find IT workers to tackle new initiatives.

The percentages of employers that are looking to increase headcount in key areas are:

  • 44 percent said programmers and developers
  • 41 percent said software engineers
  • 38 percent said information security professionals
  • 35 percent said networking pros (including administrators, analysts and engineers)
  • 35 percent said software engineers

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