What are IT executives’ top priorities for investing in the business? Where are they confident, and where are they worried about falling behind? Omdia’s IT Enterprise Insights - 2022 survey of 4,861 executives (1,551 of them are responsible for global businesses) yields both expected results and a few surprises.
Figure 1 shows a summary of enterprise IT investment by category: where enterprise executives feel reasonably comfortable, where they will work to maintain their position, and where they need to catch up. The figure maps executive IT priorities against how advanced they see themselves. Below are reasons for executives’ confidence and concerns.
Figure 1: Enterprise IT executives are comfortable in some technology areas; others need attention
Examining enterprises’ top IT priorities
Security (o): IT executives consistently remain most concerned about protecting their IT and data assets. The stakes are high. A data breach puts the business at risk. Direct costs include damage to systems and operations and cleanup. Indirect costs include damage to reputation, partner trust, lost business, and possible fines and litigation.
Large enterprise executives rate their security capabilities as advanced. But they also know that security threats are constantly evolving, so investment in security remains a top priority.
Networks, and clouds connected by networks, are top attack vectors for cybercriminals. Enterprises have responded by pulling together network and cloud security with zero-trust practices for their network-connected assets. Network overlays such as Secure SD-WAN and secure access service edge (SASE) help set and enforces enterprises’ network and cloud security policies.
Automation and AI (!): Chief information officers (CIOs) and chief operating officers (COOs) drive automation for efficiency and operational improvements. They make environments like factories, warehouses, and offices more data-driven and efficient. Process automation changes how workers do their jobs by taking over repetitive, time-consuming tasks. Automation can be faster to respond and more accurate and consistent.
Large enterprise executives see themselves trailing the potential of automation and AI. Leaders in initiatives such as Industry 4.0 in manufacturing demonstrate what is possible, emphasizing the technology gap.
Automation and AI solutions require constant connectivity to support their information flows. Control and management are migrating to the cloud. Enterprises constantly need available, high-performance networks to relay information and responses between cloud resources and onsite people and devices.
The modern workplace (o): Knowledge and collaboration tools make workers more efficient. The average knowledge worker needs consistently available, reliable, secure access to assigned applications, environments, files, and data sources. Collaboration tools need to support internal peers and external contacts. Whether workers are tethered to a desk, roaming onsite, or in the field, their work environment needs to move with them. This agility requires device hardware, applications, and connectivity to work together smoothly.
To large global enterprise executives, enabling the workforce through technology is a high priority. Therefore, it is an area of ongoing investment.
The modern workplace needs a secure yet flexible network for support to handle large variations in traffic loads. Workers use multi-party video/audio sessions, office applications, and custom applications. Their experience should feel real-time and responsive, whether connecting to people and resources inside or outside the enterprise network.
Digital upgrades (!): Digital transformation harnesses data for better outcomes. It aims to pull together groups of systems and processes. Examples of digital projects map customer journeys, track extended supply chains, and streamline factory production.
Global executives see themselves trailing in digital upgrades. Digital transformation overlaps with many elements: IoT and automation, data lakes and cloud, including edge cloud, and agile DevOps, microservices, open source, and open APIs.
Reliable, high-performance networking is a critical enabler of digital transformation. For a business to fulfill its digital objectives, it needs real-time network connectivity to connect and coordinate larger collections of assets.
The cloud (✓): The cloud has shifted IT infrastructure, middleware, and applications into its virtualized and hosted environments. It provides computing power, storage, and data transfer that can be ordered and reconfigured on demand.
Regarding cloud migration, enterprises still have plenty of work to do. But after a decade of moving their operations into the cloud, IT executives feel reasonably comfortable about their overall state of cloud adoption.
Meanwhile, cloud and networks have become more tightly interwoven in the last decade. The network is part of the cloud experience. Quality network management gives enterprises visibility into performance to monitor end-to-end transactions. Specific areas of cloud-network overlap include cloud ports and connectivity, multicloud fabrics, cloud-based networking, managed network, and security services.
Other technology priorities: Two categories stand out in enterprises’ technology investments. With legacy system upgrades (!), executives see themselves as the farthest behind. This is not a dramatic concern. The IT legacy is, by definition, systems that are most in need of upgrading.
Executives also see themselves lagging somewhat in the connected Internet of Things or IoT (o). From interviews conducted by Omdia, ramping up IoT is a slow and steady progress. There are plans to deploy more sensors and devices across their “carpeted and uncarpeted” worksites to feed automation and digital transformation.
Enterprise IT executives are comfortable with their advancements in some technology areas and are more concerned about others. There is a common thread for each enterprise’s top five priorities—security, automation, workplace, digital, and cloud. Each depends heavily on reliable, flexible, high-performance, secure connectivity, and the network is vital to their success.
A network that supports IT executives’ top priorities is based on internet infrastructure. Internet services are more easily scaled and flexible to reconfigure, so they can adapt to technology upgrades as they are brought online. This network must be architected for high availability and optimized for performance. It needs management that includes detailed visibility into performance and assurance that its IT investments are built on a solid foundation.
Top enterprise executives see major new opportunities to leverage IT investments to save costs and create new value. The network is critical to realize their visions of a secure environment, efficient operations, and empowered workers.
Omdia is a leading research and advisory group focused on the technology industry. With clients operating in over 120 countries, Omdia provides market-critical data, analysis, advice and custom consulting.More articles by Omdia