Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: Working from home: The future of business is remote

IT leaders hardly ever get it wrong (say IT leaders)

During the pandemic, IT leaders were brilliant decision-makers. That's according to a new survey of IT leaders.

If the pandemic has proved anything, it's how ephemeral our certainties are.

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Suddenly, there we were staying at home, ordering toilet paper and masks on Amazon and attempting to do business by talking to each other via our MacBook cameras and microphones.

Concentrating became difficult for many. Six or seven back-to-back Zoom calls can drive the sanest mind batty.

So hurrah for our nation's IT leaders. They were perfect. They knocked it out of the park, then ran so quickly out of the park that they were able to catch the ball they'd just knocked out.

No, I'm not imbibing and ascribing. Instead, I'm poring over the finer details of a survey of 504 IT leaders from medium-sized and enterprise businesses.

The research was performed on behalf of a company called Internal. This is an enterprise that promises to "free your engineers from internal tools."

I can already hear so many -- not exclusively engineers, I fear -- grunting that they, too, would like to free themselves from internal tools.

In this case, Internal specifically enables non-engineery types to build internal apps on top of existing databases, APIs and business apps.

But back to those most excellent 504 IT leaders.

The survey asked them to choose their most vexing challenges of 2020. 31% said it was the intensified competition for talent. 23% insisted it was the poor reaction of employees to new working from home policies. 22% pointed to a developer drought, while 16% were most disturbed by immigration issues with their current staff.

Clearly, these IT leaders were faced with a vast barrage of the expected and the less expected. Rather like most Americans, indeed.

The IT leaders agreed that low code and no code solutions would help solve some of their most pressing problems. 75% said their companies had, after the pandemic began, implemented a dual track strategy -- traditional engineering and low code/no code. 35% revealed their companies had paused the hiring of engineers altogether, due to Covid.

This was all fascinating in a low-level/no level way.

One question, though, unveiled the true caliber of today's IT leadership.

After these IT leaders were asked about the greatest challenge they faced in 2020, they were asked: "Do you think you made the right decision/handled it correctly?"

Many IT leaders may seem like slightly diffident beings. They can sometimes seem overwhelmed by problems and desperate for a little more time to play video games.

But asked whether they'd made the right decisions in 2020, a hearty 98% said why, yes, actually they had.

I found myself wondering what it takes to be so supremely self-confident, especially during such trying times. 

I found myself wanting to invite this golden 98% to deliver a 10-hour TED Talk on their infallible methods of deduction and decision-making.

I also found myself admiring the 2% who were honest enough to admit that, yes, they'd messed some things up in 2020.

After all, many executives have surely made the occasional brain-frozen decision as the world changed so suddenly and violently.

For example, all the bosses who currently insist their working-from-home staff have to keep their Zoom app open all day. And all the bosses who have recently bought additional spying equipment so that they can follow their remote staff around non-stop.

But let's hear it for our IT leaders. They're great and they know it. Well, 98% of them do.