The tech CIOs are paying for

The tight grip of the recession has eased, giving more CIOs the green light for innovation and upgrades, particularly cloud computing. Sixty-one percent of the 305 heads of IT that responded to our survey on technology priorities say they're putting more money toward the cloud -- a 10% increase from last year.

Gary Kuyper, CIO of Bethany Christian Services, says he is seriously looking to move e-mail to the cloud. "We see that [cloud] will open up resources for us. Last year, I had to configure computers for 400 new staff, and the idea of setting up someone a lot quicker is a huge advantage."

CIOs also continue to find new ways to use mobile technologies to enable access to their businesses from anywhere. Forty-three percent of IT leaders currently have mobile solutions in production, up 10% in the last year. Mike Benson, CIO of DirecTV, says he is developing a mobile strategy while trying to keep up with competitors. "We've streamed our NFL program to iPads and iPhones, and we're going to see more and more of that."

Forty-eight percent of CIOs are now investing in hardware. Meanwhile, 38% are currently upgrading. This is an 11% increase since January 2010. The data shows that CIOs are returning to replacing technologies long overdue for improvements.

Kuyper is currently upgrading the software and replacing the hardware for the main financial file server at his organization, which he held off doing in 2009. "This year we have ramped things back up."

Some spending on hardware is necessary to enable business-process innovation, which about one-third of CIOs said they are focused on improving. About 25% of IT leaders are also working to lower business operations costs as a result of their focus on upgrades.

Forty-three percent of IT leaders currently have server virtualization in production, up from 30% last January. Stephen Laughlin, director of IT at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, says he is virtualizing a lot of smaller servers. "It's going to be easier to manage and more efficient in terms of power consumption and hardware costs."

Follow Editorial Assistant Lauren Brousell on Twitter: @lbrousell.

Read more about investments in CIO's Investments Drilldown.

This story, "The tech CIOs are paying for" was originally published by CIO.

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