2020 tech trends: Optimism, budgets & talent shortages chapter

Keen to understand the attitudes of technology experts in the UK and beyond, Triad Group Plc ran a 2020 tech trends survey during Q4 2019. The survey asked members of the IT community to share their insights on future trends and views on adoption rates for different technologies during the next decade.


This chapter focusses on some key questions facing technologists today including:
  • What does the future technology landscape look like to senior IT professionals?
  • What budgetary pressures bear down on IT departments?
  • Whether the digital skills shortage will improve or worsen?



It’s been a long-held assumption that IT departments are feeling the pressure – and that this is manifesting itself in an ingrained pessimism.

Five years ago, TechTarget undertook a survey and found that ‘when asked to describe the mood of their IT department, 26% of respondents described it as optimistic, in contrast to 34% reporting pessimistic. The remaining 40% had neutral feelings.’

In our latest survey we found a heart-warming and refreshing change when we asked:

Pie chart of sentiment relating to 2020

The vast majority proved to be feeling positive about the technology landscape (over 80%). More than a third (34%) were extremely positive about the outlook, while 47% were feeling good about the new decade.

Less than 10% expressed concerns – and, of these, only a tiny fraction (1%) described themselves as very depressed.

In terms of the strength of feeling, significantly more from the private sector felt extremely positive (40%), with the public and third sector at 30% and 27% respectively.

It’s also worth noting that the largest IT departments (of more than 5,001 staff) were between two and three times more likely to express a negative sentiment and 10% less likely to be feeling positive.

But the overall sense of a positive future leads to another question: what is it that has caused this general sea-change in attitudes towards the future?

‘It is no surprise that these results show IT companies are optimistic about 2020 as there is so much opportunity created by businesses of all sizes transforming or establishing their businesses with a ‘Digital First’ priority.

Change is a constant but seems to accelerate ensuring everyone is upgrading just to keep up. The winners will come from those organisations that can think ahead.’
Alex Tatham | Managing Director, Westcoast



This newfound spring in the step certainly does not appear to be caused by an easing off on pressures and threats to budgets.

When asked to ‘describe your current view of the budgetary pressure you will experience in 2020’, most believed that it will be very high (32%) or there will be some (38%) budgetary pressure.

That’s a total of 70% facing budget uncertainty at best, and budget cutbacks at worse.

And there were 17% who could only muster a neutral response and 10% who shrugged their shoulders and stated that they just didn’t know what will happen yet.

Pie chart showing budgetary pressure expected during 2020

Generally speaking, the larger your IT department, the higher the perceived budgetary pressure. For departments with more than 501 staff, 81% reported that at least some budget cuts were expected. Whereas, only 68% of those with less than 500 staff some level of budgetary pressure.

‘It’s fantastic that, despite the budgetary pressure that technologists are expecting in 2020, they remain so positive. I think that the next decade will be one of more realistic expectations and more mature decision making when it comes to new technologies; for example, is ROI is really accessible and applicable to the individual business.’

Adrian Leer | Managing Director, Triad Group Plc


The digital skills shortage

In our investigation into the digital skills shortage, published in April 2019, we found that it was holding back business transformation. We also explored the extent, underlying reasons, effects and solutions to this ongoing problem.

We discovered that 75% of business executives are experiencing issues when it comes to digital recruitment and that failing to close the digital skills gap could cost the UK economy over £140 billion during the next decade.

We can now reveal how the industry feels at the close of 2019 about how the skills shortage will shape up over the next three years.

Pie chart illustrating digital skills shortage responses



Over half of our respondents (54.5%) foresee the situation worsening, with a quarter (25%) feeling that it will get significantly worse.

Yet a third are optimistic that the situation will improve (32.3%) and a further 13.1% see the situation getting no worse than it is (but not improving either).

Interestingly, the public sector expressed the most optimistic assessment of the situation, both in terms of a greater proportion seeing improvement on the horizon and a smaller proportion seeing things getting worse.

Table showing different levels of concern relating to digital skills

With a perceived threat to budgets and an ongoing sense of a skills shortage it is all the more remarkable that there is a definite mood of optimism pervading the public sector as a whole.

But, then again, these are very exciting times of opportunity and change – as we’ll see in the next chapter.

‘The new skills gap, introduced by things like IR35 and Brexit regulations, will result in a redefining of projects to more closely follow a cost vs results approach. In the Public sector particularly, the skills gap is not well addressed with low levels of accountability or experience sharing between different Departments or levels. There is a real danger that Time-to-Deliver is more important than the actual requirements of projects.’

Indy Reddy | Technical Architect


Read our press release here or check back in one week to read the next chapter of this eBook.