Food for thought as you divvy up your IT budget pie
If you’re one of the 64% of enterprises1 enjoying a bigger IT budget this year, lucky you. More funding is always cause for celebration—along with complicated decisions as you balance competing demands. (Nice problem to have, right?) The following enterprise tech spend recommendations can help guide your budget decisions.
Advance and protect vs. update and upkeep
Businesses are shifting from legacy upkeep toward technology investments that advance or protect the enterprise. Two-thirds of respondents plan to increase cybersecurity spending, while half plan to increase business intelligence and cloud platform investments3.
Tech spending is often driven by end-of-life and end-of-support scenarios. But now that some of the big looming deadlines have passed, like Microsoft no longer supporting various Windows operating systems and servers, you can focus on other critical upgrades. Maybe it’s time to replace legacy technology that’s causing application and hardware incompatibilities as you move work and data to the cloud. Or to deploy advanced security solutions to meet new regulatory and compliance standards. You might even be ready to adopt automation and self-service technology to stay productive with fewer employees.
Mind your bandwidth
Bandwidth is so foundational to enterprise technology, it’s easy to forget it’s the lifeblood of daily operations. Before you budget for IT upgrades and additions, check your capacity. Is it appropriate for the demands of your current online functions? How about your future uses, users and devices? More bandwidth isn’t always better, but dedicated, consistent fiber internet with 99.99% network reliability is key. Otherwise, you risk frustrating your stakeholders, slowing productivity, and compromising security and compliance. Dedicated Internet Access and Gig speeds are the gold standard. And for today’s enterprise: the single-most important investment.
Support, secure and empower your remote workers
91% of remote and hybrid workers want the option to become permanent5.
A significant portion of your IT spend over the past two years was likely an unexpected and unavoidable investment in technology to allow your employees to work from home. Now that remote work has become permanent for many people at least a few days a week, you’ll need to continually invest in hardware, software and services to help your distributed teams stay productive, supported and secure working from anywhere.
That means allocating less for desktops and on-premise servers and more for laptops, tablets, mobile devices and cloud-based services. Collaboration and communication solutions like UCaaS, UC, VoIP and WiFi-enabled phones should be top of your list, along with a state-of-the-art security system to protect all your endpoint devices and remote users.
You might also consider an employee engagement platform to help team members feel included and valued as cracks start to appear in the global remote work success story. Employee engagement software, including training, recognition, surveys and performance evaluations, for example, can help improve productivity and engagement—along with job satisfaction and retention.
Elevate your path to the cloud
50% of all business workloads are expected to run in the cloud by 20236.
—Spiceworks Ziff Davis
The path forward for enterprises everywhere is upward: directly to the cloud. Hosted and cloud-based services provide the ongoing resilience and agility necessary to thrive in our uncertain world. You’ve probably already invested in cloud-based collaboration and productivity apps and cloud-hosted online backup and recovery services. Now you can look at cloud-based Contact Center as a Service, cloud security solutions and Desktop as a Service to help your distributed workforce stay productive and secure.
Maximize your resources with managed services
Enterprises plan to spend significantly more of their tech budgets (21%) on managed services in 20227.
—Spiceworks Ziff Davis
Two trends make managed services—outsourcing IT functions to a third party—especially valuable right now. One, with employees working remotely in far-reaching geographical locations, it can be challenging for an internal IT team to provide everyone with appropriate support. Two, with a general labor shortage and specific scarcity of tech talent, your team is likely overworked and perpetually pulled away from core activities.
Outsourcing your tech services to a Managed Services Partner takes the pressure off your team and frees you to focus on higher-value work. It’s also more efficient and effective, and simplifies your responsibilities when you consolidate providers with a single managed service partner. Given today’s climate, Managed Firewall, Managed Cloud, Managed Wireless LAN and Integrated Voice are strategic places to start.
Defend against cyberattacks with multiple layers of security
More than 3/4 of organizations plan to adopt employee security training and anti-ransomware solutions to help protect corporate networks, devices and data8.
—Spiceworks Ziff Davis
Cyberattacks continue to surge and the simultaneous growth in remote work and IoT amplifies the risks: Your attack surface is expanding as your vulnerable data increases and moves further to the edge. There’s no question you need to dedicate a significant portion of your IT budget to a multi-pronged security solution. But before investing in the latest anti-ransomware solution, conduct a thorough audit of your entire network. Doing so will uncover any potential vulnerabilities while there’s still time to prioritize funds to fix them immediately.
Also remember that even with the most advanced defenses available today, your employees remain a weak link. All it takes is one person to open one attachment and your entire network and all your assets could be exposed and breached. So just as you continually update your security technology, you need to continually update your team members’ cyberthreat awareness. Set aside money for mandatory employee security training. Whether done in-house or by a consultant, it doesn’t need to cost much—and it can even be fun.
Finally, cybercriminals work around the clock. You need eyes on your network at all times: 24/7/365 monitoring with real-time notifications. It’s a never-ending job and a lot to manage, especially if you’re understaffed. Top security talent is in high demand, for good reason, so your best option may be to partner with an expert Managed Security Team.
Harness emerging technology
By 2024, 70% of enterprises will use IT automation technology, 65% will deploy Gigabit WiFi networking and 48% will adopt IoT9.
—Spiceworks Ziff Davis
If funds remain after budgeting for urgent tech needs with an immediate ROI—hey, you never know—think about the processes or workloads you can automate or transform into self-service operations. Keep an eye out for Gigabit internet and 5G, as it’s becoming more available. And consider state-of-the-art security solutions that incorporate AI, user-behavior analytics and hardware-based authentication.
Be realistic, or at least cautiously optimistic
Our excitement about growing revenues and IT budgets is tempered by some persistent IT purchasing challenges: chip shortages and hard-to-find products, supply chain and shipping issues, and price increases. But on balance, the opportunities we see with the growth of cloud infrastructure, remote collaboration tools, AR and VR, and emerging solutions in the metaverse suggest technology will continue to help further the future of work—and a more inclusive, equitable, flexible world of work.
2www.ciodive.com/news/it-technology-budget-2022-Gartner/608407/ Survey data released at the virtual Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo 2021
3www.ciodive.com/news/it-technology-budget-2022-Gartner/608407/ Monika Sinha, research vice president at Gartner, in a call ahead of the virtual Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo 2021.