8 new IT challenges businesses face in 2024

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What’s your gut reaction when you find out about a significant new technology that is likely coming to your business?

For some, this news generates excitement as they see the boundless possibilities. Others might feel frustration as they remember the difficulties of the last major upgrade or fear the business disruption that could be headed their way.

Both of these responses (and anything in between) are legit. New innovations like automation, generative AI, and big data can be business-redefining technologies, but they also come with many potential disruptions and challenges.

While there’s plenty to be excited about in IT in 2024, we see 8 specific IT challenges organizations should be ready to face. Here’s what you need to know. 

Why IT can hinder business growth  

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Because IT plays such an indispensable role in how business is done today, the way in-house IT teams and IT services firms operate can either foster or hinder business growth. And getting IT strategy right, especially at scale, is one of the most common startup challenges for new companies experiencing marked growth. 

Invest in IT too slowly and you risk being left behind by competitors that can do more, faster, better. But invest too quickly, and you could sink unnecessary resources into too-new tech that doesn’t pan out or deliver results over time.

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Why companies need to prioritize IT 

IT is sometimes considered a necessary evil or a cost center: something a business has to deal with and pay for, but not something anyone outside the IT department is excited about or focused on. 

This kind of thinking can lead to business challenges, though. Instead, companies need to prioritize IT.

Think about your workday so far. How much of that workday relied on some kind of device with a screen? Every device you interact with is a part of your business’s IT infrastructure — and there’s a lot more behind the scenes that you don’t see. 

Your business most likely can’t function without a wide range of IT capabilities and devices. You rely on them, as does every person above and below you on the org chart. At every level of your organization, from individual contributors to managers to executives, the quality and reliability of IT directly impacts the ability to work efficiently. 

Top IT challenges facing businesses

Most IT challenges that small- to mid-sized organizations deal with fall into one of eight categories. 

Of course, the specifics will be unique to you, depending on what you do, who you serve, and your business’s overall IT posture. But no matter the specifics, being aware of these potential obstacles in advance can help you overcome them faster.

1. Greater cybersecurity threats

Cybersecurity threats are everywhere, and they’re increasing both in number (up 20% year-over-year) and complexity.

Top threat categories include:

  • Phishing–Communication-based social engineering attacks that trick users into giving up information or login credentials, leading to data breaches.

  • Ransomware–Attacks that steal or “lock up” a business’s data until a ransom is paid.

  • Malware–Malicious software that operates on devices and/or networks to various ends.

  • Endpoint security–Exploits vulnerable endpoints (the PCs, phones, and tablets your employees use to do work) to gain access to sensitive data and systems.

IT departments and service providers are essential to guarding against these evolving threats. It’s difficult, constantly changing work that requires specialization and ongoing training to stay abreast of new risks.

2. Managing hybrid and remote employees

There was a measure of security (both perceived and actual) when everyone who worked for you sat in the same building in the same city, working on the same network.

For many of us, those days are long gone — but because most companies went remote out of necessity in response to the largest global pandemic in modern history, they didn’t have the opportunity to get everything “right.” 

Hybrid and remote work can work well but also present significant IT challenges. Home Wi-Fi networks are rarely as secure as in-office networks, leaving devices (and the sensitive data they hold) at risk. Implementing endpoint security practices is critical for mitigating security threats for all organizations, but especially those with a remote workforce. 

3. Acquiring and retaining the right talent 

IT departments are notoriously difficult to recruit and retain talent for.

IT professionals possess in-demand skills, and specializations within the industry demand high pay. It’s tough for the average small business to attract this talent, let alone retain it (which translates to “pay them enough”). 

As a result, many smaller businesses find themselves hiring inexperienced generalists. Once those employees gain experience or specialization, they move on to larger companies with bigger budgets.

4. Digital transformation

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Digital transformation is a popular term in the tech world, but what does it mean? McKinsey & Company defines digital transformation clearly and succinctly:

“Digital transformation is the rewiring of an organization, with the goal of creating value by continuously deploying tech at scale.”

Digital transformation is key to sustained business success — sorry, we know you’ve heard these platitudes before, but it really is true. Businesses that best position themselves to benefit from an avalanche of new business technology will thrive. Those who avoid digital transformation will be left behind.

What’s trickier are those businesses in the middle—the ones that implement new technology sporadically or take a piecemeal approach, along with the ones that attempt digital transformation but don’t quite get it right.

Fundamentally rewiring the way your business works sounds drastic, and we’ll be honest: it’s a lot of hard work. The challenge for IT departments and business leaders is to fully commit to the process and then to get it right.

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5. Data privacy and compliance

Given what we’ve already established about growing cyberattack threats, it’s more important than ever to implement security measures that safeguard your data (especially sensitive customer data, including the kinds of data subject to compliance regulations).

From HIPAA to regulations in finance and education, many businesses have data security compliance obligations they must meet and be able to demonstrate. Businesses must not only demonstrate compliance during regular operations but also in how they respond to security threats.

6. Legacy system incompatibility

We talk about tech evolution and digital transformation, and that’s all well and good. But if your business has been around for over a decade, chances are really high that you’ve got some piece of older (legacy) equipment sitting around somewhere that you’re still using. It might even be the linchpin holding everything together.

For example, a commercial printer might rely on an expensive piece of equipment that can only be run by an ancient custom PC running Windows XP.

But as you implement the latest and greatest cloud solution for one facet of your business, you could run into legacy system incompatibility somewhere else. Many companies end up building complicated workarounds that spiral into unnecessary complexity and inefficiency over time.

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution here, but the point is this: as businesses digitally transform, they must either actively manage legacy systems by accounting for how they will fit into the future framework or decide how and when to replace the aging technology.

7. Filling skill gaps and professional development needs

We already discussed how talent acquisition and retention are challenging at the smaller end of the spectrum. Larger, more established businesses don’t escape these challenges; they just look different. For businesses that might already have an IT manager and larger IT staff in place, the challenge is finding people with the right skills amidst a skills gap and labor shortage.

IT is a wide discipline with many high-demand specializations. The larger the organization, the more highly specialized the roles get. The pool of workers with the necessary skills gets smaller even as compensation increases. 

Ron Babin, a research professor writing for IDC Research, explains:

"The IT labor challenge is likely to last longer and be deeper than many expected, so CIOs should prepare now for an upscaled multiyear effort to recruit and retain skilled IT workers. Competition for high-value IT skills will be strong. Many organizations will depend on the right IT skills to guide modernization of their IT systems that support business transformation in a digital marketplace." 

Faced with an inability to reliably hire certain capabilities, some organizations turn to professional development to train current staff in the needed disciplines. But then they face the same risks we discussed with smaller businesses, just at a larger scale (and higher pay scale): Can they compete with their even bigger competitors, who might lure away their now-trained specialists with better perks and higher pay?

8. Integrating new technologies

With such a strong focus on digital transformation, businesses are constantly investing in new technologies. It’s the only way forward — making it even more important to solve the challenges of integrating new technology.

One is betting on the right horse: going all-in on the modern business equivalent of the 8-track, Betamax, or HD DVD (the failed alternative to Blu-Ray) could spell disaster—or at least a major financial hit.

Another is the detailed, complicated work of making those new technologies play nice with others. They have to be integrated with the other tech and software you’re already using, and you’ll also need to train the relevant staffers on using the new tech well.

Overcome your business’s IT challenges with the help of Teamwork.com

Today’s businesses face unprecedented opportunities thanks to the pace of technological innovation all around us. These IT advances aren’t quite a utopia, though, and there are still plenty of hurdles and challenges to overcome before IT promises become business realities.

Many of the steps along the way are themselves projects in some sense: rolling out new software, introducing a new inventory system, and upgrading a fleet of hardware are all multi-step projects with workflows that need to be planned and scheduled, not simply executed.

Teamwork.com can help businesses bring order to the chaos that sometimes accompanies IT progress. Our project management software suite helps teams plan, visualize, track, and execute their IT projects.

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