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Security: the CIO's biggest headache

Closely followed by upgrades

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Security, upgrades and modernisation, and budgets were the top three issues faced by Chief Information Officers (CIOs) in 2003, writes Bloor Research chief analyst Tony Lock.

It's unsurprising to find security at number one on the list, compiled by the Standish Group. This subject is always quoted as the biggest cause for concern among business of all sizes. The question is: what will be the result of this concern? IT vendors and their customers mostly think that this area is likely to receive investment over the next year or so.

But security may not be the budget heading under which much of the spending occurs. Instead, it is likely that other projects, dealing with issues such as compliance, upgrades and modernisation or management simplification and risk avoidance, could include substantial security-oriented benefits.

The fact that upgrades and modernisation is now at number two may be a reflection of modern technology refresh cycles. Many organisations last updated significant portions of their IT infrastructures during the run up to year 2000, making 2004 a time when many could be expected to rejuvenate systems.

For example, coming in at number four is spam, an area where many vendors are producing software and appliances to help businesses manage the daily flood of unwanted mail. Modern anti-spam solutions often incorporate anti-virus, firewall, intrusion detection and content filtering functionality making them clearly tools delivering added security. It will be fascinating to see if security worries in today’s connected world will translate into hard spending on corporate systems' security. After all, CIOs still face challenges obtaining funding.

Staff burn-out rates number five on the list. The perceived importance of the issue reflects the pressure under which many IT departments operate. After several years of financial restraint and IT budget reduction, staffing levels are at an all-time low. Conversely, the importance of the IT systems to business has never been higher with the result that IT staff are under ever-increasing pressure to keep existing systems running and deliver new capabilities.

With integration, collaboration and co-ordination, compliance, and consolidation and outsourcing completing the top ten, there is not too much in the list that could be considered unusual. Perhaps the only items that look significantly out of place are concerns centring on budgets at number three and compliance at eight. Money and its availability is usually the primary concern for all budget holders while the latter is growing in importance and complexity. By next year it is likely that compliance will be much closer to the top of the list.

© IT-Analysis.com

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