In the first West Michigan IT Report, Worksighted anonymously surveyed a diverse cross section of IT leaders from dozens of local manufacturers, professional services firms, nonprofits, retailers and others. In addition to taking a pulse on business growth, the survey focused on five prevailing IT topics: security, spending, cloud, business continuity and future trends. This week, we’d like to talk about IT spending habits of West Michigan businesses.
The survey asked questions such as:
- How has your IT budget changed in the past year?
- What three critical IT service investments are you hoping to make?
- What three critical hardware investments are you hoping to make?
- What three critical software investments are you hoping to make?
Of the companies surveyed, 60 percent are growing their IT budgets this year. That increase primarily is funding changes in security, connectivity, networking and services.
Where’s the money going?
Security: It should come as no surprise that security showed as the top software investment. As discussed in our last two posts on security and cloud, the risks are high in IT security. In addition to business information, your business’s bank information, employee information and client information are at risk during a breach.
Security software: Software is one of the many layers between a company and a security breach. Companies continue to invest in current software to make sure machines are up to date on antivirus and software security patches.
Backups and storage: The report shows significant investment in both hardware storage and software storage updates. We’re living in the age of information, and losing data during a breach or ransomware attack could be the difference between a business withstanding or succumbing to an attack.
Insurance: Relatively new to the game is cyber liability insurance. In the last few years, insurance agencies have begun offering insurance to cover businesses in the case of a breach. From forensic research to identify the problem, to brand reputation management and ongoing employee identity protection after a breach, security attacks carry a much higher price tag than the initial ransom or loss in productivity. Investing in cyber liability insurance could save companies hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Connectivity and redundancy: The report showed almost 50 percent of companies planned to invest in connectivity. Now with the large transition to cloud-based services and enterprise resource planning systems (ERP), companies depend on their internet connections more than ever. When the internet goes down, companies utilizing ERP systems experience a standstill on finance, sales, production and human resources. Downtime means lost dollars across industries.
Companies are investing in redundancy, or backup internet, to help overcome downtime. Think of backup internet as a home power generator. When the main internet goes out, the backup can kick in to run critical programs. Redundant internet often has less bandwidth than the primary commercial cable or fiber network but has enough to power the basics.
Networking: Companies have more devices than ever connected to their network. With a move toward using personal devices, companies are experiencing an uptake in total devices on a network, meaning more clutter. That’s why over 45 percent of companies in the survey are investing in networking.
Traffic control: Network engineers design networks to prioritize tasks, meaning emails can take priority over streamed music. New software and equipment help engineers more easily create fast lanes on the network for the most critical information and processes.
Identity settings: Companies also are investing in identity settings, where network engineers create personalized access plans to information for employees. This helps to increase security and free up storage space.
All of the investments we discussed so far take skilled and talented programmers and developers to complete. Some companies keep a full staff to fulfill these needs, and other companies outsource to a managed services provider or IT professional. Make sure you take a full look at your IT needs before deciding on a direction.
Austin Asamoa-Tutu is professional services director for Worksighted.