At the beginning of each year, company decision-makers lay out how they will allocate funding in the year's budget. This process determines what initiatives will be prioritized.
Recent research on how business leaders plan to spend their budgets illustrates 2015's trends in enterprise spending, where cybersecurity, cloud and analytics technologies take center stage.
According to the Computerworld Forecast Study 2015, 43 percent of respondents noted an expected increase in IT budget this year, compared to last year's 36 percent. Three areas will receive the brunt of that increase:
1) Information security
Last year was referred to by many experts as "the year of the breach" – there were a number of high-profile attacks on and leaks within major organizations, including Home Depot and Sony. As a result, many businesses are shoring up their data protection in the hopes of mitigating the risk of such an incident.
Computerworld's forecast found that 46 percent of survey respondents planned to raise their spending limits on items like access control, intrusion prevention and identity management, as well as virus and malware protection.
Concerns about data breaches stretch beyond the enterprise community. Georgetown University CIO Lisa Davis told Computerworld that a considerable part of the institution's budget will be put toward more responsive, agile security infrastructure.
"We get roughly 45 million hits against our network on a yearly basis," Davis said. "We know that we're a target – in terms of higher education and being on an unclassified network – so we have to be very diligent in how we're managing [security]."
When it comes to corporate protection, many organizations are focusing on better securing sensitive databases and business applications, as these items have been targeted in recent attacks.
"Whenever there are these high-profile incidents, it does tend to drive IT security spending even more quickly than it already was," noted Stephen Minton, IDC Global Technology and Industry Research Organization analyst.
2) The cloud
Computerworld's forecast also revealed that cloud is still a main initiative as businesses migrate away from on-premises systems. Forbes reported that 42 percent of respondents plan to boost their investments in cloud applications or similar initiatives. In fact, the cloud topped the list of most important IT projects this year with 16 percent noting its priority, ahead of replacing or modernizing legacy systems (12 percent) and on-premises software (9 percent).
David Dodds, CIO of agricultural asset management firm Nevitt & Associates, told Computerworld that cloud technology provides an incredibly beneficial level of flexibility. His company plans to raise its IT spending by 15 percent after two consecutive years of steady budgets.
"I want to be the IT guy who's out of the IT business," Dodds noted. "I don't have to have servers, and [employees can] bring whatever computer they have or I'll just buy them a Chromebook. We can connect to a virtual desktop that's always ready, clean, updated and secure – and all I have to worry about is my Internet connection."
3) Business analytics
As big data has become more central to many enterprise processes, many companies are also focusing a higher portion of their spend on business analytics.
"Business analytics is most relied on for the insights gained in generating new revenue streams and increasing sales within existing channels," Forbes contributor Louis Columbus wrote.
Corporations are leveraging big data and analytics to gain insight from a range of sources, including consumer habits and behavior and social media trends. Gartner analyst Richard Gordon told Computerworld that as the Internet of Things develops, it will provide even more data for analysis as well. For these reasons, businesses area investing more in analytics to draw more actionable information from that data.
Other forecast highlights
While security, cloud and business analytics topped the list of IT spending, Computerworld's forecast found that business application development, wireless and mobile technology will also be placed as priorities.
Areas which will see a decrease in spending according to Computerworld include hardware, data center consolidation and optimization, and storage.
What technology is your business embracing? Where is your IT budget increasingly going?