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CIOs Plan to Raise Tech Budget this Year to Improve Cybersecurity: Study

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Cyber attacks have caused some of the greatest disruptions to critical infrastructure and data access globally in the last two years or so. In 2022, Chief information officers (CIOs) expect their IT budget to increase in order to prevent them from cybersecurity threats, according to a new study.

Well over half (59%) of CIOs expect their budget to increase in 2022 – up from 49% in 2021, said the State of the CIO Report by IDG Communications. For enterprise, the increase in budget is even higher (63%) and slightly lower for SMBs at 55%. Only 10% of organizations expect their budget to decrease this year.

“From COVID-19 to digitization, the CIO role has evolved considerably over the last two years,” said Stacey Raap, Marketing & Research Manager, IDG Communications, Inc. “Our annual research highlights the major factors contributing to this shift and offers critical insight on how IT leaders  are better balancing business innovation and operational greatness.”

Security is the top concern for CIOs

According to the findings, more than half (57%) of CIOs surveyed indicated the need for security improvements as a top reason for increasing tech budget this year, followed by upgrading outdated IT infrastructure (48%) and investing in new skills and talent (48%). Likewise, over three-quarters (76%) anticipate their involvement with cybersecurity to increase over the next year, along with their involvement in data privacy and compliance (71%).

“The growing risk of cyber threats and the aftermath of a two-year long – and counting – pandemic has altered the technology landscape and intensified the need to prioritize security,” added Raap. “As a consequence, security is no longer just a technology issue. Instead, security is a fundamental business issue that requires CIOs to closely collaborate with organizational leaders across their company.”

Additional data capturing the focus on security include:

  • Currently, CIOs are spending time on security management (51%), improving IT operations and systems performance (43%) and modernizing infrastructure and applications (40%).
  • Additionally, when asked which of the following business initiatives will be most significant in driving IT investments at their organizations, 49% of CIOs said increasing cybersecurity protections, 46% said increasing operational efficiency and 42% said improving customer experience
  • Further, 46% of CIOs said improving cybersecurity – followed by ensuring they have the right collaboration platform for their organization (32%) and improving network reliability and performance (27%) – are the top technology priorities for remote work.

The shifting role of the CIO

The CIO role bears more responsibility as it expands with a focus on digital transformation.

  • 86% of CIOs say their role is becoming more digital and innovation-focused.
  • The overwhelming majority (74%) agree their role was elevated due to the pandemic, and greater visibility within the organization is expected to continue. A significant percent of line of business respondents also agree with this statement (78%).
  • CIOs are also largely considered to be strategic advisors (58%) within an organization, meaning they proactively identify business needs and opportunities. This is a significant increase from last year where just 28% of lines of business (LOB) considered CIOs to be strategic advisors.

In another recent report, researchers at Onclave Networks strongly recommends that enterprises prioritize their cybersecurity solutions and budgets in 2022 and make the strategic move toward Zero Trust, micro-segmentation, and continuous monitoring of IT and OT to better secure communications and safeguard enterprise networks.

“Setting a clear cybersecurity strategy based on assessing the risks, impacts, and current vulnerabilities will help companies prioritize cyber defense spending that’s proportionate to the overall threat,” said Sean Sullivan, vice president for Onclave Networks.

“But equally true is that the long-term cybersecurity transformations must also have a ‘fast-track’ budget to address the near-term hardening of high-value targets that cannot wait for a multi-year optimization program,” he added.

This approach enables CISOs and CIOs to determine if investments are paying off or if new gaps are creating dangerous vulnerabilities. As a result, they can make more informed and justifiable recommendations to key cybersecurity budget decision-makers in the organization.

“Companies will have to manage their budget and priority between their foundational transformations. in that sense, Cybersecurity must be regarded as a critical innovation environment, as cybersecurity threats currently outpace defenses in their innovation spend and that cannot be allowed to continue,” said Sullivan.

As companies take stock and plan budgets for the new year, and as the pandemic continues unabated, companies will have to factor in its ongoing impact on their business and daily operations; remote working, to some extent, will remain in place for many businesses, as does the economic aftermath of the Covid-19 crisis. It’s important for business executives and CIOs to sync on how best to prepare and meet the needs of the industry and come up with the appropriate budget to improve their IT security posture.

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