CIOs in global survey say cyber-security is top priority

In an environment where cyber-breaches are key risks for virtually every organisation, IT executives are heavily focused on cyber-security, but they say limited resources are barriers to innovation.

More than half of nearly 600 chief information officers surveyed by Computer Science Corporation and CIO Strategic Marketing Services name budget constraints as a top impediment to innovation at their organisations. Nearly two-fifths say IT resources are mainly focused on utility functions.

Elevated cyber-security expectations are an overwhelming top priority amongst the IT executives participating in the survey, which is available for download. The emphasis on cyber-security is not surprising, given recent publicity about technology breaches and the trend toward capturing more data, both from customers and from devices such as industrial equipment. More data available means more data are available for the taking.

The top technology initiative is cyber-security, chosen by 82% of respondents as either a critically or highly important function. Cyber-security is also atop the list of technology investment (71%), followed by analytics and Big Data (64%) and application modernisation (61%).

Interest in the “internet of things” – an umbrella phrase for using web technology to collect real-time statistics from connected devices – is greater for some industries than for others in the survey. For instance, 76% of manufacturing IT executives call the internet of things a high priority for the next year, compared with 62% overall.

Health-care CIOs are more likely than others to invest in and rely on Big Data: 90% say Big Data is having a positive impact on productivity and efficiency, compared with 75% overall. And 74% of health-care respondents are investing heavily in Big Data, compared with 64% of all IT leaders.

Industries such as health care and financial services that are subject to strict regulations related to data privacy are more likely to invest heavily in cyber-security.

Spending up, but budget constraints remain

The survey measured the responses of 590 IT executives from five continents. Of those, 64% reported higher spending this year than in the year before, 26% predicted spending to remain the same, and 10% expected IT spending to drop. In 2013, 46% of respondents cited higher spending than in the previous year, and another 46% said it would remain the same.

Budget constraints were cited by 52% of respondents as a top challenge. That was followed by a lack of resource focus beyond basic, “keep the lights on” functions (39%); difficulty finding qualified staff (38%); and difficulty deploying technology to facilitate innovation (33%).

One-fourth of CIOs cite as a challenge a lack of strategic vision within IT to drive innovation.

Related CGMA Magazine content:

How to Turn a Tech Team Into a Strategic Partner”: Donny C. Shimamoto, CPA/CITP, CGMA, offers eight questions that can help finance leaders get the most value out of the information technology function.

Develop These Skills to Make the Most out of Big Data”: A fall 2014 CGMA report outlines the skills that finance professionals must develop to help their company take full advantage of Big Data to drive competitive advantage.

Neil Amato ( is a CGMA Magazine senior editor.