Online communities a godsend for IT managers

For many IT professionals, web surfing, social networking, forums and Google searches help them more quickly get the job done, according to a recent survey.


For many IT professionals, web surfing, social networking, forums and Google searches help them more quickly get the job done, according to a recent survey.

King Research conducted an online survey of more than 200 IT professionals, which revealed that a majority tap online communities to help them solve problems on a daily basis. Some 93% of IT professionals reported that they are able to do their jobs more efficiently and "save time by using IT communities to solve system administration problems."

Specifically, 43% of respondents said they save between one to three hours per week, 37% of participants estimated that they saved three or more hours each week, and 13% said they were able to save less than one hour each week using online communities.

Eight-seven percent said they use online communities to find answers to technical problems, while 12% said they visit the sites for entertainment purposes. About 70% said they visit online communities to research and solve security and systems management issues.

And 94% of survey respondents said they must visit more than one site - such as forums on Google Groups (61%) and other sites - to solve one problem. About two-thirds said they visit between two and three sites to solve one problem and 30% said they need to visit four or more sites to solve one specific IT issue.

Just more than 5% are able to solve problems with one online community visit, and more than one-quarter of respondents said it typically requires two site visits to solve their IT issue.

"This is clearly a pain point for participants with 75% of participants who work in IT saying that a comprehensive community would answer questions without the need to visit multiple sites would be beneficial," the report reads.

A majority - 98% - also said they trust the information in online communities is "typically accurate", yet they did clarify that the sources of such information must be validated. And another 50% reported it would be valuable for them to have "relevant community information available to them directly from their systems management console."

And of those using online communities, 100% said they believe they are benefiting professionally from the use of online communities and another 85% said the resources help them personally as well. "The greatest professional benefit cited (75%) was doing a better job. The greatest personal benefit cited (68%) was professional development," King Research stated in its report.

Despite the cited benefits, King Research found IT professionals would like to see online communities improve going forward.

"Better search is the most frequently cited improvement that would add benefit to online communities for technical information," the King Research report states. "Other suggestions included resident subject matter experts and moderators, live forums and policing of community content for accuracy and currency.

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