Research: 2020 IT budgets increase as priorities grow

A recent TechRepublic Premium poll shows security and cloud joined by digitalization, training, and mobile tech as top IT budget priorities.
Written by Melanie Wachsman, Editor

Whether you love it or loathe it, IT budget planning is a must. Where IT professionals plan to spend their tech dollars, who makes budget decisions, and how IT vendors can assist in the budgetary process were the topics covered by a recent TechRepublic Premium survey

Questions included: 'Who in your organization makes initial recommendations for items in the IT budget?'; and 'Which of the following are top priorities in your organization's budget for fiscal calendar year 2020?'

It's no surprise that IT spends increase year to year, as technology options continue to evolve at rapid rates. In fiscal 2020 (1 Oct 2019-30 Sep 2020), IT budgets saw impressive growth, with 26% of survey respondents reporting IT budgets of $20 million or more. In 2019, only 9% of 2019's respondents reported that their IT budgets would exceed this figure. Of those 2020 survey respondents, 2% anticipate having an IT budget between $250 million to $499.99 million.

Prior to 2020 projections, dollar amounts for IT budgets had remained consistent over the last few years. Seventy percent of survey respondents reported that their 2019 IT budget would be under $1 million. This was true for 62% of 2018's survey respondents, and 66% of 2017's survey respondents.

SEE: Tech budgets 2020: A CXO's guide (ZDNet/TechRepublic special feature) | Download the free PDF version (TechRepublic)

Corporate commitment 

Corporate budget allocations for IT have remained steady in recent years. In 2017, 27% of survey respondents said that the corporate budget allocation for IT would be between 1% and 5%. For 2018 budgets, this number increased to 35%, and by 2019 39% of survey respondents said that the corporate budget allocation for IT was under 5%.

This number dips slightly in 2020, with 37% of survey respondents reporting 1-5% of the corporate budget being allocated to IT. By contrast, 13% of this year's survey respondents reported 11% or more of their organization's total budget going to IT. Where does the money come from? Almost half (49%) of respondents stated that less than 5% of their corporate technology spend comes from outside IT budgets, while 11% said that 11% or more comes from non-IT budgets.

Budget priorities

When 2017 IT budgets took shape, companies shifted their focus to network and data security. Sixty-nine percent of survey respondents listed network security for IT systems as a major initiative, and 57% said they planned to invest in network infrastructure. In 2017, IT budgets were just beginning to register Internet of Things (IoT) implementations. Just 3% of respondents reported having an IoT application installed. By 2020, 9% of survey respondents ranked IoT implementation as a top IT budget priority.

SEE: IT Budgeting: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)

Security was a key concern for IT budgets in 2018 and 2019, according to 53% and 63% of survey respondents respectively. While improving security continues to be a focus, the number has dropped to 51% in 2020. Cloud services took second place, with 45% of respondents reporting this as their top IT budget priority. Rounding out the list of top IT budget priorities are internal hardware and software purchases (37%), digital transformation (31%) and training current employees (29%). 

The infographic below contains selected details from the research. To read more findings, plus analysis, download the 2020 IT budget research report: Security, cloud services, and digitalization are top budget priorities  (TechRepublic Premium).


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