Blog_03202019

IT Budgets are Up: How Well are You Spending Your Dollars?

According to Gartner’s 2019 IT spending forecast, global IT spending is expected to reach $3.8 trillion this year—an increase of 3.2 percent over 2018, despite an unpredictable worldwide political climate. In addition, according to IDG’s 2019 CIO Tech Poll, 57 percent of IT executives expect their budgets to increase this year.

Where will businesses spend the money? In IDG’s survey, CIOs say they expect to see the largest spending increases in 2019 in two areas—cybersecurity (72 percent) and cloud strategies (67 percent).

Do you enable your employees to innovate and drive progress? Is there room for improvement?

These estimates are not surprising—after all, to grow digitally, companies must increase IT spending. But CIOs and other business leaders should keep in mind that growth comes from more than just increased spending on technology. People drive progress—it’s up to organizations to ensure they have the right training and support to get the most out of new technologies.

As the second quarter of 2019 approaches, step back to assess how well you’re spending your IT dollars. Do you enable your employees to innovate and drive progress? Is there room for improvement?

In IDG’s survey, respondents note that security and cloud strategies are expected to see the largest increase in spending throughout the next year. Take time to think about each area and what is required:

Security: According to the IDG report, 83 percent of respondents believe that security breaches could affect their organization’s investment plans for technology products and services over the next year. As a result, 71 percent of CIOs say they plan to increase the percent of the IT budget dedicated to security, 45 percent for security risk analysis and 29 percent for hiring new employees with security skills.

In addition, the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which went into effect in May 2018, requires companies to protect the personal information of all European Union consumers. Failure to do so can result in hefty fines. In the IDG study, 62 percent of respondents say GDPR compliance and regulations will have a notable effect on their organization.

Businesses are hit with spyware, ransomware, worms, phishing attacks, keyloggers, and compromised accounts every day. Technology can help organizations avoid cyber attacks, but employee training is critical to security.

To ensure a strong security strategy, organizations must provide the right technology and ample user education—for example, if you are migrating to Windows 10 to keep your systems secure, you will need to educate employees about security features and teach them how to best use the operating system. Multi-factor authentication is another example—while it’s more secure than older login procedures, it’s not foolproof. Teaching employees how to spot scams adds an extra layer of protection.

Technology can help organizations avoid cyber attacks, but employee training is critical to security.

Cloud: As more companies move to the cloud, business leaders are starting to realize that such a move isn’t just a location shift—it’s a transformation that requires a new approach to productivity, collaboration and communication. For example, although Microsoft Teams, SharePoint and other Office 365 tools are designed to simplify work, they have steep learning curves. Employees need to learn how to use the technology before they can create value from it. Office 365’s frequent updates pose an additional challenge for organizations—because new and changed functionality is rolled out twice a year, learning must be continuous and flexible. Employees need a range of support options more than ever.

Don’t stop at this year’s top priorities—keep an eye on the future, too. According to the IDG report, 60 percent of IT leaders consider artificial intelligence/ machine learning to be the most disruptive technology, and 40 percent predict it will have a positive impact on their business in three to five years.

Ensure your employees understand AI—what it is, what it isn’t, and how it can affect their jobs, positively or negatively. Provide them with training for AI-enabled features in Microsoft 365 that they can use today. By doing so, you will kick start the culture change that will be required for digital transformation.

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