While we don’t have a crystal ball to see what changes the new year will bring, we have something just as good: Data. And lots of it.

By analyzing the biggest IT initiatives, spending trends, and pain points of IT buyers in 2016 and 2017, DiscoverOrg can make some solid predictions for the coming year. And with this foreknowledge in hand, sales professionals, marketers, and recruiters can start 2018 by helping buyers solve real, self-identified problems.

Data security, mobile, and recruitment are top of mind for the IT industry. Read on to see what our research department has uncovered through a series of surveys of high-level IT professionals.

The survey research

The results here are taken from a single survey sent out multiple times during 2016 and 2017, and collected primarily from the mid- to high-level managers of IT departments. The respondents represent organizations from all sectors, as well as all revenue brackets.

The survey questions addressed an organization’s top initiatives, current spend, and current pain points. Questions were related to top initiatives focus on broad areas of IT, including data centers, cloud services, and data security.

 

Participants were asked about three areas: Initiatives, spend, and pain points.

  1. INITIATIVES: Which areas will receive investment in the next 6-12 months? This gives us a very good place to start when it comes to predicting spend in 2018. For example, when looking at data from Q3 of 2017, we can assume that the bulk of spending on select initiatives will take place in early to mid-2018.
  2. SPEND: Where is current spending taking place within an organization? Is an area is receiving new spend, maintenance spend, or no spend? Our research team uses areas receiving new spend to discover ongoing spending trends.
  3. PAIN POINTS: In which areas is the company experiencing pain? And do they plan to spend to address it?

These three questions, and the areas represented in each one will allow us to look at changes, consistencies, and what to expect in the IT world.

Top strategic initiatives

We asked: “Please indicate your IT department’s major initiatives in the next 6-12 months.”

Data Security is the top 2018 IT initiative

In Q3, we asked respondents to indicate which technology initiatives they’re focused on in the next 6-12 months. The clear priority for 2018?  DATA SECURITY – by a mile. (Note the difference between data security and information security.)

Almost half (46%) of all organizations will be investing in data security.

This may seem optimistic, but the need drivers are clearly in place; organizations are likely devoting more resources to security this year simply based on the increased need for meeting data regulations, maintaining customer trust, and securing the vast amounts of data that the majority of companies must deal with in this day and age. This comes as no shock considering the onslaught of data breaches, hacking, and ransomware seen in 2017.

Along with Data Security, Identity and Access Management, Data Centers, Wireless and Automation  initiatives, Collaboration, and Unified Communications are the areas expected to be invested in most in the upcoming months.

Read it: The Inside Scoop: Chipotle’s Big Burrito Breach – Malware with a Side of Chips

Top spending trends

We asked: “Please indicate which of the following areas have new spend for your organization.”

Cloud solutions

Cloud services has the highest average of new spend across organizations.

Using data collected from spending questions, we can compare investments year-over-year to determine which areas are likely to remain areas of spend, and which areas are not priorities for most IT departments.

Cloud services has topped the list of initiatives, with an average of 48% of participants investing in 2016, and 47% investing in 2017. This consistency suggests that organizations will continue to invest in cloud, particularly as new solutions emerge and the use of the cloud becomes more and more ubiquitous.

Information security

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In 2016, on average, 56% of companies across industries were investing in general information security, while the 2017 that average dropped to 46%. In addition, the percent of companies investing in information security dropped significantly year over year.

However, when considering this data in tandem with the anticipated security spend suggested by our top initiative data, we can assume that despite the drop from 2016 to 2017, security will still have a place at the top in 2018.

Read it: Learning from Equifax – How Sales Can Act on (and Anticipate) a Data Breach

Mobility

A salesperson's train has finally arrivedBased on our year-over-year data, another area of interest is mobility, which presents the most significant year-over-year decline. Mobility initiatives appear to be taking a back seat to security. In 2016, 29% of companies were investing in mobility solutions on average, whereas in 2017, only 20% of companies are investing in mobility solutions.

This is the most significant decrease in average spending year over year. With increasing challenges related to network and access security, organizations may keep the investment on mobility solutions to a minimum, although it’s not possible to say with certainty what this decrease will mean for 2018.

Top pain points – likely areas of spend for 2018

We asked: “Please indicate your IT department’s major initiatives in the next 6-12 months.”

Every IT department experiences difficulty from time to time. These pains can arise due to high investment trends in one area, leading to less bandwidth for investment in other areas. Pains may also arise from the general growth of a company.

Our surveys asking about the pain-points of high-level contacts are quite granular, so we’re able to be specific here.

Finding qualified job candidates

it spending trendsThe biggest pain point for more than half of Heads of IT in Q3 (58%) and Q4 (65%) in 2017 was “Finding qualified and experienced staff to meet department needs.”

Remember, this data covers organizations in all sectors and all revenue brackets, meaning that this is certainly a widespread pain.

When we look at the pains in both Q3 and Q4 of 2017, we learn where investment will be most likely be made in 2018. The one unifying truth in all organizations is that finding the resolution to a problem and implementing this solution takes time: Likely six months or more. This is why spending on IT staffing is predicted for early to mid-2018.

Although we can see that the majority of companies are experiencing pain finding employees who are the right fit, we have to look at how many of those companies are likely to spend to address this issue.

In Q3 and Q4 2017, 29% and 27% of participants (respectively) indicated that their organization had plans to invest in solving this problem. That may take the form of investment in additional hires, assistance from staffing agencies, or training for existing employees. Solving this problem will require quite a bit of leg work from the HR department, who is responsible for finding the right people for the organization, then onboarding them.

Although experienced staff may be needed in all areas of IT, it’s safe to say that skilled professionals in the data security field will be in high demand, based on the spending trends mentioned earlier.

Conclusion: Security, Cloud, and Staffing

Based on survey data collected over the last six months, we can look into 2018 with a pretty good idea of where a large chunk of the IT budget will be allocated.

Spend related to data security is expected to be the focus throughout 2018, this may include solutions for monitoring access, data management, and threat detection. Investment in cloud services is expected to remain steady in 2018, based on the consistent percentage of spend in this area year over year. Finally, a huge amount of spend in the first half of 2018 is expected to go towards staffing – particularly finding experienced staff to meet the needs of the IT department.

If you sell, market, or recruit in any of these areas – keep these initiatives and pain points in mind as you craft your pitch!

Dorie Phillips
About the author

Dorie Phillips

As a Research Manager Dorie Phillips focuses on maintaining and improving the processes used for gathering and analyzing data related to spending trends in the IT market. Dorie has a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from the Catholic University of America. She is originally from Alberta, Canada.