Cybersecurity and remote support are top goals for CIOs in 2020

Most IT leaders say their priorities have shifted since the coronavirus pandemic surfaced around the start of the year, says Hitachi ID.

Cybersecurity and remote support are top goals for CIOs in 2020

The spread of COVID-19 created an upheaval that has affected individuals and organizations. Plans and priorities that were set last year or the beginning of this year have shifted as the virus has spread and triggered lockdowns and self-quarantining. This certainly holds true for CIOs who have had to alter their goals for 2020 amid the changing landscape. A survey report published Tuesday by identity management provider Hitachi ID shines a light on the new priorities among IT leaders for 2020.

SEE: Black Hat 2020: Cybersecurity trends, tools, and threats (free PDF) (TechRepublic) 

Based on a recent survey of 131 high-level IT executives, Hitachi ID's report "Top IT Budget Priorities Through 2020" found that the long-term IT priorities of 70% of the respondents have changed since the start of the year. Cited by 89% of those surveyed, cybersecurity is now considered the top priority for the rest of 2020. Further, 72% of those who mentioned cybersecurity as a long-term goal said their priorities had shifted since January.

Next on the list, remote enablement was cited as the top priority by 82% of the respondents. Other goals mentioned by respondents for 2020 included improvements in customer experience, innovation, migration to the cloud, updating their legacy infrastructure, and hiring.

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Image: Hitachi ID

Drilling down further, 86% of those surveyed said they're looking to improve security standards across their environment, 80% want to make their technology stack more flexible for remote and on-premises users, and 75% hope to keep their IT infrastructure and tool stack up to date.

As some efforts and projects move higher on the priority scale, others move lower. Many of the CIOs polled said they've focused less on updating on-premises infrastructure, hardware refreshes, conference attendance, training, and hiring.

To help them achieve their top priority of cybersecurity, IT leaders are focusing on identity and access management (IAM) above other initiatives. Some 43% of those surveyed said they're investing in IAM ahead of such areas as endpoint security and security awareness training.

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Image: Hitachi ID

"Prioritizing IAM makes sense," Hitachi ID CEO Kevin Nix said in a press release. "CIOs have been waking up to the fact that most hackers don't break down the gate—they just unlock it because they already have the keys. Bad actors have been focused on stolen credentials, phishing attacks, and social engineering, especially since the pandemic forced so many employees to work remotely. We've seen a new urgency among companies looking for IAM solutions. Last year, businesses might plan to adopt IAM over a year or two. Now they need it next quarter."

To pay for these new priorities, half of the respondents said they're looking to increase their budgets. But the amounts vary. Some 33% are eyeing an increase of 5% or less, 13% are looking at an increase between 5% and 10%, and 9% are working on an increase higher than 10%.

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has also triggered a greater interest in emerging technologies as a long-term investment. Yet even in the overall scope of emerging tech, the top area being considered this year is security, cited by 87% of respondents. Other emerging tech areas arousing interest include Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, Advanced Storage Structures, Hyperconverged Infrastructure, Edge Computing, and Serverless Computing.

Conducted for Hitachi ID by social research platform Pulse from May to June 2020, the survey elicited responses from CIOs, VPs, and directors at small, midsized, and enterprise companies.

Also see

Cyber security concept. Encryption.

Image: metamorworks, Getty Images/iStockphoto