Security 'still IT managers' top priority'

Cisco's chief executive has said that he thinks that keeping their networks secure is more of a concern to CIOs than hitting business targets

Senior IT managers are more scared of hackers than they are of their own bosses, according to Cisco chief executive John Chambers.

Speaking at the Networld+Interop conference on Wednesday in Las Vegas, he said that from his questioning of IT heads, network security is higher up their list of priorities than hitting the boss' targets.

"When you look at CIOs, what they're saying is on their minds is wireless and security," he said. "What's top of mind is security — it's not the CEO's revenue growth."

A recent survey of ZDNet UK sister site silicon.com's CIO Jury agreed — finding security still topping off the IT head's shopping list. However, despite the ever-growing importance of keeping corporate security locked down, according to Chambers, CIOs still have to be aware that their main responsibilities will put business goals before pure technology goals.

"You can't predict what will be your major application in three to four years [but] you can project when your CEO wants to move, you need to move pretty fast," he said.

While evidence of the CIO-CEO disconnect is manifest, according to the Cisco boss more stringent targets on the boardroom cab may actually be a mixed blessing.

"There's never been more pressure on executives [and] that can be both good and bad for our industry," he said.

Despite the pressure on the board, CIOs aren't down at heel about the transformational role of IT in the enterprise.

"If I were to survey CEOs and CIOs [few] would have productivity goals over 5 percent five years ago," he said. "Now 75 percent of the CIOs I polled said 5 percent or more."