2021 IT budget research report: COVID-19's impact on projects and priorities


  • Provided by TechRepublic Premium
  • Published August 24, 2020
  • Topic TechRepublic Premium
  • Format PDF

As IT budgetary planning for 2021 begins, many organizations are seeing the impact of COVID-19 on their IT priorities and tech spends.

How COVID-19 influences IT budgets and where exactly businesses plan to spend their tech dollars was the topic of a recent TechRepublic Premium survey.

The survey asked the following questions:

  • How much do you anticipate your organization's fiscal or calendar year 2021 budget will be?
  • How has the COVID-19 crisis affected your fiscal 2021 budget planning?
  • How has the COVID-19 crisis affected your IT priorities?
  • Who in your organization makes initial recommendations for items in the IT budget?
  • What percentage of the overall corporate budget is allocated to IT?
  • What percentage of corporate technology spending comes from outside the IT budget?
  • What are your organization's top budget priorities for fiscal calendar year 2021?
  • How can IT vendors better assist you with your budgetary process?

The uncertainty of COVID-19 factored into many respondents' IT budgetary plans. Last year, 9% of survey respondents were unsure of their IT budgets, that number grew to 20% of this year's respondents. Further, almost two-thirds of survey respondents (62%) said that they will tighten their 2021 IT budgets as a consequence of COVID-19.

In terms of IT priorities, 26% of respondents reported that they will spend more on remote technologies that enable employees to work from home, 22% will spend more on security, 19% said more of the IT staff will work from home permanently, and 17% are planning to postpone major projects. Only 6% of respondents said that COVID-19 has not affected any of their company's IT priorities.

Fewer budget decisions are being made by IT managers than in past years. Survey results from 2018-2020 ranked IT managers as the top IT budget decision maker for more than half of all respondents. However for 2021, decision making shifted to either the CEO/CIO or other C-level business managers, according to 46% of respondents. IT managers made IT budget decisions for only 23% of this year's survey respondents.

While security (17%) and cloud services (16%) remain top IT budget priorities for 2021, remote technology that enables employees to work from home, digitalization, and employee training are gaining traction. The priorities for 2021 IT budgets represent a slight departure from 2020 survey results where respondents said security (63%), internal hardware purchases (48%) and cloud services (48%) were the top concerns.

In 2020, the majority of survey respondents (76%) reported that their IT budgets comprised 10% or less of their organizations’ total budgetary spending. In 2021, that number dropped slightly to 71% reporting that 10% or less of the overall corporate budget will be allocated to IT.

To read all of the results from the survey, plus analysis, download the full report.

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