Cisco survey hints many IT leaders also don't understand 'Internet of Things'

Cisco's latest global trends report examines just how much IT pros are in touch with industry trends, such as software-defined networking and the Internet of Things.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor on

If you're concerned that many C-level executives don't understand some of the trends sweeping through the IT landscape these days, you might want to double check how much IT managers understand them too.

Published amid Interop 2013 in Las Vegas this week, Cisco's latest global survey attempted to determine whether IT departments are just keeping up with the demands of their companies, or acting as a strategic partner and actually making an impact on the business.

See also:

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But more so, the study also tried to assess just how much IT pros are in touch with industry trends, such as software-defined networking and the Internet of Things.

Turns out, not as many of them might be as involved (or even know about them) as one might expect.

For example, according to the study, one third (34 percent) of IT decision makers affirmed they have seen an actual deployment of software-defined networking "as often as they’ve seen Bigfoot, Elvis, or the Loch Ness Monster."

More troubling, less than half (42 percent) claimed they are "vaguely familiar with the Internet of Things, on a par with Einstein’s theory of relativity."

This one might be especially troubling for the survey's commissioner, Cisco, which has been busy promoting its Internet of Things strategy for several months now.

It's even troubling for the rest of us considering anywhere between 25 billion and 50 billion devices are expected to be online and connected by 2020.

Yet, it's also questionable how much IT decision makers even want change themselves.

Researchers reported that when IT leaders were asked to describe their attitudes toward asking business decision makers to budget network infrastructure upgrades, roughly 18 percent of them argued they would rather "break out of prison or train for a triathlon."

Nevertheless, there is some hope that advancements behind-the-scenes are being made.

Approximately 71 percent of participants reported that their IT departments are deploying more applications than one year ago, with an even higher percentage (78 percent) defending that the network is more critical for delivering applications than it was at this time last year.

Other highlights from the Cisco Global IT Impact Survey:

  • More than one third (35 percent) said they were "somewhat confident" in their IT department's ability to respond to the needs of the business, equal to their ability to do "Gangnam Style" dance moves.
  • While the majority (63 percent) of IT professionals are very confident in their ability to respond to the needs of the business, more than a quarter (27 percent) still equated the visibility of their IT department into their company’s business initiatives to a foggy day in London.
  • When asked to compare the visibility of IT within their organization, 36 percent said "innovator" was the best description of how business leaders viewed their role. 34 percent chose "orchestrator," 15 percent selected "firefighter," seven percent went with "ghost" and 7 percent opted for "fortune teller."

For reference, the report is based on responses from more than 1,300 IT decision makers in 13 countries across the following 13 countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The complete Cisco Global IT Impact Survey is available online now.

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