As a regular feature of the Society of Information Management’s annual IT Trends Survey, the organization asks its IT leaders to identify their most pressing concerns. At its annual SIMposium conference this week in Orlando, SIM published the results of the 2008 survey, including the top 10 IT management concerns.

Here’ this year’s list:

1. IT and business alignment

2. Build business skills in IT

3. IT strategic planning

4. Attracting IT professionals

5. Making better use of information

6. Manage change

7. Reduce the cost of doing business

8. (tie) Improve IT quality

8. (tie) Retaining IT professionals

8. (tie) Security and privacy

All of the top six items on the list, except Attracting IT professionals, were on the list last year and have moved up the list. Both Attracting IT professionals and Retaining IT professionals dropped in ranking from last year (when the two items were combined). That’s not too surprising in a sputtering economy, which loosens up the labor market. Reduce the cost of doing business and Security and privacy are two other items that were on the list last year but dropped down in priority in 2008.

Jerry Luftman, a professor, former IT executive, and the SIM director who oversees the research for the survey, said IT and business alignment has been at or near the top of the list for 30 years. He attributes that to the fact everyone is looking for a silver bullet, but it actually involves a series of complex issues including HR considerations, governance, communication, strong partnerships, demonstrating the value of IT, and selecting the right technologies.

As part of the survey results, SIM also listed the Top Five Technology & Application Developments 2008:

1. Antivirus protection

2. Business Intelligence (BI)

3. (tie) Business Process Management (BPM)

3. (tie) Continuity Planning and Disaster Recovery

5. Server Virtualization

The top two were the same top two from 2007.  The two items that tied for third both moved up from last year. And Server Virtualization was new to the list. One item that was absent was Cloud Computing. Luftman said that it was way down on the list. Apparently, working CIOs aren’t biting on all of the excessive hype around Cloud Computing during 2008.

I was surprised that Antivirus protection was at the top of the list. This seems like a solved problem to me, with lots of commoditized solutions. I think it points to a general concern about not just viruses but related malware, spyware, and other planted software from attackers.

On the other hand, it didn’t surprise me at all that BI was so high on the list, because most organizations are “data rich, but information poor,” as one SIM attendee put it. One of IT’s biggest challenges right now is harnessing all of the company’s data and quickly turning it into useful information that can drive timely decision-making among managers and executives.

Further reading