Budgets rise as IT decision-makers ramp up cyber security spending

Almost half (46%) of organisations surveyed in the TechTarget/Enterprise Strategy Group 2024 Technology spending intentions study say they are increasing their budget.

The poll of 1,432 technology decision-makers worldwide found that security is the number one priority for businesses.

Almost a fifth (19%) of IT decision-makers say they will increase their IT spending in 2024 by 10% or more, while only 4% say they are decreasing their IT budgets during 2024. However, half of the IT decision-makers surveyed say their IT budgets have remained flat. The sectors seeing the largest increases in IT spend are finance, manufacturing and communications/media, while education, retail and healthcare are trailing.

IT spend is being driven by requirements to meet regulatory compliance. For instance, European regulations like the Digital Services Act, Data Act, European Health Data Space (EHDS), Data Governance Act, and AI Act are aimed at forcing transparency, responsible data use, and improved cyber security across the European Union (EU).

Additionally, the potential Cybersecurity Certification Scheme is set to raise security standards for IT, cloud and 5G deployments, offering businesses a competitive edge while ensuring trust for customers.

Globally, cyber security (65%) and information management (54%) are the top areas of IT spend. In Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), among the 470 IT decision-makers polled, there is also a focus on application development (52%).

Of the 151 IT decision-makers in EMEA who said they were investing in networking, the vast majority (65%), had network security as their top priority. IT decision-makers said VPNs, firewalls and zero-trust networks are their top three areas of planned network tech investment for 2024.

Storage and backup investment plans for 2024 show a significant bias towards averting risk and building resilience. At the same time, storage spending plans lean towards the cloud, but with very robust on-premise storage spending plans also present.

When asked about storage and data protection technologies that organisations plan to invest in over the next 12 months, the overwhelming majority of responses indicate plans of arguably a “defensive” nature. Therefore, at number one, IT decision-makers are prioritising spending on data governance, risk and compliance, with disaster recovery, cyber resilience and business continuity next. Joint-fourth is ransomware protection.

Cloud strategies

The data shows that just over a third of the study’s EMEA participants (36%) are taking a cloud-first approach to new application deployments, which is slightly down on a similar study carried out by TechTarget in 2023.

Back then, around half of the participants indicated that their organisation was favouring a cloud-first approach when choosing the best environment to deploy new applications and workloads.

This is in keeping with IT spending trends being seen across the wider IT industry, with public cloud firms, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), tracking a shift in customer cloud spending, with enterprises focusing more on optimising their existing environments – rather than ramping up their migration plans.

Looking at the key areas of investment in application development, IT decision-makers appear to be putting more emphasis this year on cloud-native development and data-driven decisions such as data orchestration and secure communication.

The IT decision-makers were polled about their planned investments in integration technologies. The survey shows there is a continued shift towards cloud-based and automation-driven application integration approaches. There is also a strong focus on automating tasks and streamlining workflows through APIs and integrated systems.

The top area of software development investment in 2024 is DevOps (35%), which continues to be a big area of focus in enterprises. IT decision-makers are increasingly using DevOps methodologies to automate the continuous integration and deployment (CI/CD) of code and application infrastructure.

Compared with data from 2023, technology areas seeing a bigger focus in 2024 include API management, serverless/functions-as-a-service (FaaS) and service mesh.

Enterprise application plans

Looking at enterprise application spend, the survey suggests organisations are optimising workflows with intelligent process management tools, boosting efficiency and squeezing out waste in a cost-sensitive year. Business process automation is being used to streamline repetitive tasks. Two-thirds (66%) of IT decision-makers in EMEA (66%) say they plan to make significant investment in ERP over the next 12 months. The second biggest area of planned investment is supply chain (46%), while governance and regulatory compliance (GRC) is third (41%).

When asked about the customer-centric tools they plan to deploy over the next 12 months, North American IT decision-makers had generative AI (GenAI) tools top of their list of priorities while in EMEA – customer services tools were top of the list (34%). In EMEA, GenAI, chatbots and CRM take second place (29%) in terms of priorities for 2024.

End user computing priorities

Interestingly, while US IT leaders are prioritising spending on PCs and Windows 11 upgrades, for those in EMEA, Windows 11 deployments and migration projects only make it to sixth place on their list of user computing priorities. Their top priority for end user commuting budgets is desktop productivity.

European IT leaders regard PC refresh projects as their second-highest priority for 2024. While North American IT decision-makers regard the upgrade to Windows 11 as their second highest priority in user computing during 2024, the polling in EMEA puts the migration down in sixth place.

Just under a quarter of EMEA IT decision-makers are prioritising virtual desktop infrastructure initiatives. Newer offerings such as desktop as a service (13%) and PC clients appear less popular.

But over a third (36%) have made productivity suites such as Microsoft Office and Google G-Suite their top priority of 2024. This is likely to be a result of hybrid and the fact that productivity suites not only offer a unified platform that streamlines workflows, collaboration and enhances overall performance among organisations, but also creates cost savings and improved management among IT, and bolsters security.

The survey found that communication and collaboration tool sprawl is an obstacle organisations are facing. Almost a third (30%) of the 172 IT decision-makers planning unified communication initiatives over the next 12 months see consolidation of unified communications and collaboration (UCC) platforms as their top priority.

For organisations that are satisfied with their existing UCC vendor, almost a quarter (24%) plan to adopt new features as these platforms continue to evolve and converge, especially in the contact centre.

The bigger picture

EMEA and North American IT decision-makers appear to have similar spending priorities, at least when comparing the top four initiatives they plan to invest in over the next two years. These are: cyber security, cloud initiatives, data management and automation.

However, when comparing the fifth-highest response for broad tech initiatives of 2024, North American IT decision-makers are prioritising GenAI, while in EMEA, fifth place in terms of priorities is IT service management. Among the EMEA IT decision-makers polled, from a spending priorities perspective, GenAI is in eighth place.

Overall, the increased focus on cyber security is leading to investment beyond security categories including networking, infrastructure, applications (DevSecOps) and GenAI. Digital transformation continues to be a top business driver of tech investment among the IT decision-makers polled.

Larger and more digitally mature organisations are prioritising customer experience initiatives.

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