In a recent survey of companies across the United States with 100 or more employees, security ranked first among several IT budget priorities. The survey, performed by Robert Half Technology, was based on telephone interviews with more than 1,400 CIOs.
According to the research, seven out of 10 CIOs interviewed said their firms will invest in IT initiatives in the next 12 months, despite the harsh economic climate.
Coming in at 43 percent, information security ranked 14 percentage points higher than the next most common choice among all respondents. An even higher number of tech execs in the financial services and transportation sectors — 59 percent and 58 percent, respectively — gave security top priority.
Other top investments included green IT (29 percent), virtualization (28 percent), data center efficiency (27 percent), Voice over IP and software as a service (both at 26 percent), business intelligence (19 percent), social networking (18 percent) and Web 2.0 (17 percent), with outsourcing (16 percent) rounding out the top 10.
According to a report from the Identity Theft Resource Center, data breaches have risen dramatically. ITRC says there were 656 breaches reported in 2008, up from 446 in 2007, a 47 percent increase. The report also offers a breakdown from the groups that the center monitors: business, educational, government/military, health/medical and financial/credit. For the second straight year, businesses reported the most breaches, with 240 (or 36.6 percent), up 7.7 percent from the previous year. Most breaches occurred because data was left unprotected.
Based on its research, ITRC offers this advice:
- Minimize access to personally identifiable information.
- Require encryption of sensitive data on all mobile data storage devices.
- Limit people who can take information out of the workplace and create procedures for safe storage and transport.
- When sending data or backup records from one location to another, encrypt all data before it leaves the sender, and create secure methods for data storage.
- Properly destroy all paper documents before disposal.
- Verify that systems housing sensitive information are secure at all times. Update antivirus, spyware and malware apps at least weekly and allow software to update as necessary between regular maintenance.
- Train employees about safe information handling until it becomes second nature.
In a recent study sponsored by Siemens and conducted by SIS International Research, it was discovered that businesses with about 100 employees could be losing more than $500,000 a year because of “communications pain.”
Surveying more than 500 knowledge workers in eight countries (including the United States and the U.K.), the study revealed that 70 percent of respondents with up to 400 employees said they spend 17.5 hours a week addressing pain points caused by communication latencies and barriers.
According to the survey, while awareness of unified communication is growing among small and medium businesses, nearly 60 percent of SMBs are not currently employing it.
Here are the top five pain points, in order of their estimated expense to an SMB:
- Inefficient coordination: Slowing the realization of goals and deadlines, respondents spent an average of 3.7 hours trying to coordinate communications among team members. Also, 68 percent blamed this coordination trouble for affecting their ability to respond quickly to time-sensitive customer requests.
- Waiting for information: Negatively affecting critical business processes, respondents reported an average delay of 3.5 hours per week, per worker, in making progress on tasks because of a lack of information. Sixty-eight percent said they experience work delays while waiting for information from others they have attempted to reach multiple times, in multiple ways.
- Unwanted communications: Seventy-seven percent of the respondents noted that they spend two or more hours each week dealing with unwanted communications, including low-priority calls and voice mail.
- Customer complaints: Seventy-four percent of respondents average 3.3 hours a week dealing with negative customer comments and complaints, specifically because the customer was unable to reach them in a timely fashion. While the loss in worker productivity is important, of greater significance could be the cost of customer dissatisfaction.
- Barriers to collaboration: Spending an average of 3.3 hours per week trying to address issues of inaccessibility or lack of full collaboration with colleagues, 61 percent of respondents find it difficult to establish collaborative sessions with co-workers.
In today’s world, the smartphone has become an essential business tool, almost as important as the desktop PC itself.
Gartner’s survey of the mobile phone market in the first quarter of 2009 revealed that annual smartphone sales had grown by nearly one-fifth and accounted for nearly one-eighth of all mobile phones sold.
“The evolution of the mobile phone is that it’s become a mobile computer,” says VMware CTO Stephen Herrod. With that in mind, many are rushing to bring virtualization software to the booming mobile-device market.
“We predict that by 2012, more than 50 percent of new smartphones shipped will be virtualized,” says Monica Basso, research vice president at Gartner.
Herrod revealed at Interop Las Vegas 2009 that VMware is working on virtualization for smartphones, though he did note that it is in the early stages.
With a virtualized phone, user data could be moved easily from device to device. This will come in handy with lost or damaged mobile devices.
Where to Invest
Virtualization, IT consolidation, business intelligence, software as a service and support of remote workers are the top investment priorities for SMBs this year, according to a recent survey by Microsoft.
The study, based on responses from more than 600 Microsoft Small Business Specialists in five countries, cites declining revenue, competition from larger businesses and general economic difficulties as the major technology investment drivers:
- Fifty percent view virtualization or IT consolidation as the technology most likely to reduce operating costs.
- More than 50 percent consider customer relationship management, virtualization or IT consolidation as the best investment for maximizing growth in a down economy.
- Nearly 40 percent expect increased interest in business intelligence and see it as a critical tool for improving customer experience and loyalty.
- More than half anticipate an increase in remote workers; and nearly 60 percent expect that the shift will lead to bigger roles and more responsibilities for those who work remotely.