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IT Priorities 2023: Budgeting for IT innovation

In spite of the economic slowdown, IT leaders are driving forward investments in IT

Among the key findings of the UK and Ireland-focused segment of the TechTarget/Computer Weekly IT priorities survey for 2023 is a year-on-year increase in the importance placed on cloud-based projects by the 156 participants in this year’s poll.

Looking at broad technology initiatives that have become “significantly more important” to the future of organisations over the past two years, cloud was the second most talked about technology area – second only to cyber security – with 44% of respondents voting for it. This constitutes a 13% increase compared with 2022. Information management is the third area driving IT spending growth in 2023. Almost half (47%) of the IT leaders polled said information management and governance has become significantly more important over the past two years.

On average, the IT leaders polled said they were running eight cyber security projects in 2023; six application development projects; six networking projects; and four cloud projects.

While there is a lot of economic uncertainty, technology is not an area where companies are looking to reduce budgets.

The survey found that 50% of the IT leaders polled have a cloud-first IT strategy. Cloud computing is also the second-biggest area affecting IT spending, according to the research.

Beyond moving workloads to the public cloud, many IT leaders are aiming to adopt cloud best practices to improve the efficiency of IT operations and the speed with which new digitally enabled business functionality can be developed.

Public cloud storage deployments are by far the biggest storage priority for organisations in the UK and Ireland in 2023, with 32% declaring their intention to deploy it in the next 12 months.

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Meanwhile, 37% named disaster recovery as their top data protection-related project for 2023.

In terms of cloud-related initiatives, DevOps tops the list of application development plans for 2023. This is followed by business process automation and application programming interface (API) management.

The majority of IT decision-makers who took part in the survey (82%) are planning investments in application integration initiatives. Organisations are focused on increasing efficiency via automation, and APIs continue to be top of mind as organisations strive to create a modern infrastructure to support their applications.

The areas that have seen an increase since 2022 include continuous/automated testing, agile project management software, continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD), and DevSecOps and serverless architectures.

The survey also found that many IT leaders are using low-code/no-code tooling to enable the developer and citizen developer to create new functionality to support business requirements faster.

The future of work

Beyond the impact of cloud computing, post-pandemic IT requires a rethink of end user computing. TechTarget/Computer Weekly found that 87% of EMEA organisations are investing in “the future of work”.

Almost a quarter of IT professionals in the UK say they are focused on collaboration above all else in their working lives. Looking at IT professionals’ unified communications and collaboration investment plans, the IT priorities study found that top of the list was team collaboration (including chat, messaging and content-sharing).

This was followed by video conferencing; phone/voice calling or VoIP; screen sharing; video calling; content/file sharing; messaging; hybrid/virtual event management; PBX; CPaaS and/or voice and video; API functionality; workspace reservation; and contact centre-as-a-service.

Team collaboration (including chat, messaging and content management) was cited by 70% of professionals as the leading capability their organisation wanted from its unified communications/UCaaS platform, followed by video conferencing (64%). CPaaS and/or voice and video API functionality was cited by 25%, and contact centre as a service by 23%.

While industry data shows that organisations are deferring their purchases of new PCs, looking at the broad initiatives driving spending in 2023, the survey found digital workspaces, mobility and user computing to be in the top five areas of investment, behind data management (46%), cloud computing (50%) and security (57%).

When compared with 2022, the survey showed a 38% drop in digital workplace, mobility and user computing projects.

Across the EMEA region, 84% of IT decision-makers said they were investing in future work initiatives to support hybrid work. Looking at the number more closely, 22% were investing aggressively, 23% moderately and 39% only as needed.

Enterprise Networking

Looking at networking spend this year, the survey found security continues to dominate networking needs and is seen as a critical differentiation point for suppliers. It also highlighted the need to support users’ experience wherever they are.

Drilling deeper, the survey showed the top drivers of networking spend in 2023 are network security (46%), user experience (37%), network health and performance (26%), hybrid work (20%), unified communications/UCaaS (17%) and application performance (11%).

The survey found that when professionals were asked about their network architecture investment plans, 14% indicated internet of things (IoT) network infrastructure.

Looking at the leading 10 IoT-related technologies or initiatives organisations plan to deploy in the next 12 months, security continued to dominate, with 45% of the study indicating investment in that area, followed by analysing data from IoT devices and sensors (39%); IoT device management platforms (38%); IoT data sensors (34%); 5G (31%); IoT connectivity upgrades (30%); developing IoT apps (30%); industrial IoT/industrial control systems (27%); low power WAN (23%); and Edge infrastructure to support IoT (20%).

Beyond IoT, network traffic analysis and security topped the list of IT professionals’ networking investment plans. These were followed by network firewalls, software-defined wide-area networking (SD-WAN), remote access and as-a-network initiatives, network visibility and performance management, and datacentre interconnect.

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