Data security and data privacy have become such top-level concerns at many organizations that daily tasks around them are crowding out the ability to pursue technology innovation.

That is one of the findings of a new global study by Brocade entitled “Unlocking the Power of Digital Transformation: Freeing IT from Legacy Constraints.”

The study looked at perceptions in the IT department about a variety of strategic and operational issues, and included feedback from IT managers in the U.S., U.K., Germany, Singapore, France and Australia. Collectively, IT leaders revealed that daily tasks required of their staff -- such as maintaining data security and privacy and legacy systems -- are taking so much time (73% and 63% cited as taking most time respectively), that opportunities to innovate and transform are being missed in many businesses.

That is impacting morale in IT, as 72% of respondents felt frustrated when the IT department could not readily deliver what the business demanded. Further, businesses are “missing opportunities to unlock innovation more quickly and more effectively due to legacy technology and historical misperceptions about the role of IT departments,” the report noted.

There is no easy solution in sight, the report indicates, as organizations are increasing their efforts around data security and data privacy, not the opposite. This will continue to put a drain on IT resources.

According to the report, more than 70% of IT teams felt that if they had more opportunity to be flexible in their jobs the organization could realize a number of key benefits. Those include:

• Increased competitiveness (cited by 36%)

• More time to focus on innovation (cited by 31%)

• The elimination of shadow IT (cited by 30%)

• Increase in revenue (12%)

• Decrease in costs (10%)

While digital transformation is a big priority at many organizations, the study revealed that all this focus on data security and maintaining legacy systems is forcing IT departments to make unwelcome trade-offs that impact their ability to embrace new technologies and approaches.

Eighty-seven percent of respondents are currently adopting digital transformation strategies, with 94% claiming their CIO views this as vital to achieving business objectives. Unfortunately, nearly four fifths (79%) said they are restricted in their ability to support it adequately.

Top reasons were cited as lack of budget (49%), security concerns (43%), the inflexibility of current systems (26%), and the time drain of maintaining legacy systems (22%). Perhaps most alarmingly, almost a third (29%) of respondents said the limits of legacy technology are preventing their IT department from delivering even on immediate business demands, let alone enabling innovation for the future.

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