Top 10 tech investments, according to survey of CIOs

Robert Half Technology |  IT Management, CIO, IT spending

Despite a challenging economy, seven out of 10 CIOs interviewed recently said their companies will invest in information technology (IT) initiatives in the next 12 months. Information security topped the list of projects executives expect their firms to invest in, with 43 percent of the response, followed by virtualization (28 percent) and data center efficiency (27 percent).

CIOs were asked, "Which areas, if any, will your IT department be investing in over the next 12 months?" Multiple answers were permitted. Percentages reflect responses from 70 percent of the 1,400 CIOs who plan to invest in IT. The survey was conducted in January 2009 and developed by Robert Half Technology.

The top five areas of IT investment that were cited most frequently were:

1. Information security (43 percent): In any economy, protecting the confidentiality, integrity and availability of information is a must-have for companies of all sizes. Technology executives in the financial services and transportation sectors cited security most often, with 59 percent and 58 percent of the responses, respectively.

2. Virtualization (28 percent): Added budget pressures are forcing many companies to focus on more cost-effective solutions for servers, storage and networking. Virtualization tools enable greater consolidation, lower hardware costs, and reduced space and power requirements. Nearly four in 10 (39 percent) CIOs at large (1,000+ employees) and midsize (500 to 999 employees) companies plan to invest in this area.

3. Data center efficiency (27 percent): Improving efficiency within the data center to achieve longer-term cost savings is a top priority for organizations pressured to cut back on IT spending. Companies are realizing that by not improving efficiency, it will result in the need for more costly expansions and upgrades in the future.

4. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) (26 percent): Lower monthly phone bills, greater network flexibility and unified messaging, which allows users to more efficiently retrieve messages, are among the benefits that companies realize when they invest in VoIP technology.

5. Software as a Service (SaaS) (26 percent): Subscribing to SaaS -- rather than purchasing software licenses -- is a particularly attractive option for businesses with tight IT budgets. Since applications and data are stored and hosted on the Internet and accessed remotely, this model removes the burden of maintenance, support, software license upgrades and equipment from end users.

Rounding out the top 10 list of IT investment areas:

6. Green IT (20 percent)
7. Business intelligence (19 percent)
8. Social networking (18 percent)
9.

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