Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: The Future of IT: A Strategic Guide

Research: 82 percent of IT leaders consider security a top priority

Tech Pro Research's latest report shows how the technology landscape will evolve over the next three years, identifying the products and vendors that will stay relevant, and those that will become obsolete.

forecast crystal ball prediction

Technology is no stranger to change. Finding out how the technology landscape will evolve, and which products and vendors will stay relevant, as well as what companies and IT departments will do to stay on top of the game and embrace change, is what IT leaders need to know in order to make the right technology decisions.

Tech Pro Research conducted an online survey in September to find out what is predicted for the future of IT. The resulting report, IT Leaders’ Tech Predictions for 2015-2018, gleaned results from 418 survey respondents. CXOs and non-CXOs were polled, and the results compared to get their views on what the next three years will bring. The opinions of the two groups were largely the same, but some interesting insights can be gleaned from where they differed, showcasing business leader priorities as well as those in the various fields and trenches of IT.

Key findings include:

  • Improving security, lowering costs, improving applications to match business processes and project management are company priorities.
  • Increasing productivity through technology and improving efficiency and business processes are key issues for IT departments.
  • Moving data and services to the cloud is seen as important (more so by CXOs), but there is also a level of dedication to in-house systems and servers, which is based on a certain degree of skepticism.
  • Cloud computing turbulence is expected and a push to on-premises software may take place.
  • The Internet of Things is strongly expected to take off.
  • There is more faith in the future of Linux desktops than in the possibility of Apple surpassing Microsoft in the enterprise.
  • Security, mobility and big data are the top three technologies to watch.

Security is a top company priority

TPR technology priorities chart

In order to compare organizational versus IT departmental goals, the survey asked respondents to analyze technological priorities on a company-wide basis. Improving security, improving applications to better fit business processes, lowering costs and project management were seen as significant priorities by both groups. The least-chosen option, automation of software/settings/configuration, was still selected on average by nearly half of the survey respondents.

CXOs chose the following technological priorities more often than the average respondent:

  • Project management (14%)
  • Implementing mobility-based operations for company processes (13%)
  • Ensuring IT personnel are properly trained (9%)
  • Improving applications to better fit processes (6%)

The biggest gap between CXOs and overall respondents appears in the choice of project management, which, while considered a desirable priority by at least half of both groups, was chosen 14 percent more often by CXOs.

Importance of emerging technologies

To gauge what the IT department will face over the next three years, the survey looked to see which emerging technologies respondents considered important. The charts below are for all respondents, and also for CXOs only:

emerging all
emerging CXO

All respondents thought that IT security would be a major factor for their company's IT department over the next three years, with 81 percent selecting 'extremely important'. Approximately the same amount of CXOs agreed. Given the steady stream of news stories on vulnerability outbreaks and serious data breaches, it's no wonder security is seen as so crucial.  Mobile device management was also seen as extremely important by the majority of both groups, followed by big data/analytics.

Over a third of respondents thought that 3D printing and wearables will be 'not at all important', suggesting that these may be deemed niche or unestablished products of uncertain universal value. However, on average CXOs marked these technologies as 'extremely important' more than all respondents (7% compared to 5%), perhaps because they are perceived as possible trends by business leaders via a wait-and-see approach.

CXO respondents also marked digital marketing and The Internet of Things as 'extremely important' 9 percent more often than all respondents, on average.

Other topics covered in the report include:

  • Changes and challenges facing IT departments
  • Biggest structural changes predicted in IT management
  • Favored vendors and soon-to-be obsolete vendors
  • Relevance of current technology over next three years
  • Most important endeavors and issues to IT departments over next three years

Overall, the survey showed that there are many priorities afoot in technology and IT professionals and leaders recognize their duties and are keeping up on the trends. Topics that are hot today will continue to echo down the road; security, mobility and big data will remain top priorities. These will advance into new areas as developments arise, but the core concepts behind them will remain critical.

Download the full report, IT Leaders’ Tech Predictions for 2015-2018, at Tech Pro Research.

Tech Pro Research is ZDNet's and TechRepublic's premium content sister site.

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