A Pandemic Side Effect: Rampant Technical Debt

On average, about a quarter of IT budgets are devoted to dealing with technical debt each year. And that number is set to rise, with 68% of organizations saying their technical debt will increase in 2022. With digital acceleration continuing to drive more IT investment across departments, the technical burden appears almost an inevitable consequence of introducing more software and amplifying end-experiences. the user.

Not surprisingly, IT budgets have increased this year. This has been a stable trend throughout the pandemic, as even companies without traditional technology have increased their reliance on software. Most teams quickly moved to remote working arrangements and acquired additional software tools to keep internal processes in place. Not to mention the new complexities and emerging toolkit to support the microservices design model.

Although the adoption of new technology is vital to enabling key initiatives across the company, runaway tech debt can also prevent digital transformation initiatives. Software AG recently released Status Report 2022, a survey that analyzed the state of technical debt among IT professionals in 2021 and projections for technology adoption for 2022. Below, I’ll review key points from the report and look at how organizations are responding.

Increased reliance on technology

The growth in this area is staggering – 78% of companies say their technical debt has risen in the last year. 38% of companies reported taking much more; At the same time, IT budgets for most organizations are set to increase in 2022. On average, this increase is expected to be 37.1% higher than 2021 spending. It’s easy to associate increased technical debt with these IT budget increases.

Much of this increased spending is related to digital transformation. This is achieved; Updating current technology is a top priority for 19% of tech leaders. Other top priorities include exploring new technologies (17%) and reducing technical debt (15%). Although technical debt management is not rated as a top priority for IT leaders, it is still rated as a pressing concern due to its potential to harm innovation. The report found that 69% of companies admitted that they had slowed digital transformation initiatives.

Perceptions of artistic debt

So, what are the main causes of technical debt? It turns out that most of it stems from a recent update and digital transformation efforts. In fact, 39% said new digital products were a major reason. This is followed by infrastructure modernization (34%), data analysis and integration (32%), and new customer-oriented services (27%).

Interestingly enough, not all technical debts are bad. Oftentimes, IT professionals say that the benefits justify the expenses. For example, 86% say increased product or service launches justify taking on technical debt.

Artistic debt is also the result of the remote nature of today’s mixed work environment. During the pandemic, companies have introduced many perks to enable remote work and adopted new collaboration and development tools to enable productivity. As a result, 88% report that the pandemic has increased their awareness of technical debt. The majority, 83%, also said the epidemic had increased Acceptance of technical debt, which is a sign that many of these changes are in place to stay in the new normal of work life.

Technical debt response

Not all investments result in the same degree of technical debt; Some platforms are bigger than others. Or, the insurance schemes of particular software vendors can prevent the upscaling and transformation that can swell the technology ecosystem. So, what areas do companies invest in and what are the main causes of technical debt?

In 2021, companies invested heavily in cloud computing (60%), integration (43%), the Internet of Things (39%), and 5G (39%). Investment strategies will change slightly in 2022, with 5G becoming the most invested region at 45%. Cloud computing drops to 42% and edge computing rises to 35%. Determining where new investments will occur can help organizations anticipate the fallout. Among these investments, 60% of IT professionals ranked 5G as a major cause of technical debt. Other big producers include cloud computing, the Internet of Things, and blockchain.

In 2021, companies spent 24.8% of their IT budget dealing with technical debt. Its management poses some significant challenges – 32% say siled data and processes are a major challenge when tackling tech debt. Tight budgets, regulations and a lack of internal alignment are also getting in the way. Obviously, solving the problem requires cross-departmental collaboration and a huge budget.

last thoughts

It can be argued that technical debt is inevitable as companies adopt the latest technology to remain relevant. Taking on more technical debt is often intentional; For example, new DevOps tools help increase deployment flexibility and manage complex cloud-native architectures. Or, new SRE platforms provide monitoring and monitoring capabilities to improve application reliability. A new programming language may be more efficient, while a lower code abstraction layer complements the engineer’s workflow. In all of these scenarios, the benefits often outweigh the additional debt.

However, much of it is unintentional and slows down innovation. This could be shadow APIs or old, rotten forgotten infrastructure. Slow code and unoptimized routing between applications can also be a burden on resources. The reason these positions seem ambiguous is that technical debt, per se, is difficult to quantify. And only those who deal with it with sufficient clarity in their stack will have a clear indication of how much debt there really is.

Although the current pandemic has already amplified tech debt, things will always evolve and new trends will replace the old. In the digital age, it is inevitable that there will be some degree of technical debt within a large organization. The key will be to manage it effectively over time to maintain a healthy and healthy database and gradually release features that meet the demands of new customer experiences.

The Software AG Situation Report 2022 surveyed 700 IT professionals about their software usage and annual forecasts towards the end of 2021. For more ideas, you can read the full report without an email gateway or firewall here.

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