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Cost-saving moves push security off list of top CIO management issues

SIM’s annual survey is out, and perennial CIO issues — IT security and business continuity/disaster recovery — have plummeted on the lists of both CIO management and technology priorities. What’s going on? I asked Jerry Luftman, executive director of graduate information systems and programs at Stevens Institute of Technology and SIM vice president for academic affairs, emeritus.

“This is a special year, given the economic conundrum,” Luftman said. “If you take a look at the top CIO management concerns, the first two are business productivity and cost reduction and the second is pervasive business IT alignment.”

During typical economic doldrums, IT cost reduction has topped the list of CIO management concerns. This year it is No. 5 — evidence, says Luftman, that CIOs are spending more time working with the business on leveraging IT to cut overall costs than on slashing IT budgets.

Is it possible that IT is no longer viewed as the profligate offspring of the corporate family but — gasp! — fiscally shrewd? A cost fixer? Certainly, CIOs feel compelled to step in, according to the SIM survey.

If CIOs are not concerned about cutting IT costs (already down to the bone, many CIOs have been telling us), they are also not blowing any dough on IT hardware and software.

As for security — scary as it is — CIOs have clearly put it on the backburner of CIO management and technology concerns. Antivirus protection, the No. 1 technology investment in 2008, has dropped off the list.

“When you look at IT budget allocation, the thing that has taken the biggest hit is IT infrastructure stuff, the hardware and software, and security is right there,” Luftman says.

Moreover, security, the only technology to make last year’s list of top CIO management concerns, is no longer on the headache list. Disaster recovery and continuity planning, the No. 3 technology investment in 2008, fell to No. 6.

Seems it’s not prudent to try to sell insurance for something bad that might happen when the business is struggling to survive what is happening — a very real economic disaster.

Emotional fatigue, or SOP

The question, says Luftman, is if the decline of security and antivirus protection as a top priority represents a “continuous change.” “Will it come back again when the economy turns around and we need to refocus our interest on infrastructure stuff?”

And his view? “Security was hot last year. Over time, as we either help address it or we emotionally feel that we have done as much as we can do, it will go away from the top list. The question is, how much time will it take to drop off the radar, or become accepted as standard operating procedure, is hard to tell.”

We’ll be delving into the results over the coming days for more insights. Meantime, here are the 2009 rankings:

2009 IT Management Concerns

  1. Business productivity and cost reduction
  2. IT and business alignment
  3. Business agility and speed to market
  4. Business process re-engineering
  5. IT cost reduction
  6. IT reliability and efficiency
  7. IT strategic planning
  8. Revenue-generating IT innovations
  9. Security and privacy
  10. CIO leadership role

Top Six Applications and Technology Investments

On the following list, priority No. 4 jumped out at us as a newbie on the list. Customer corporate portals give customers direct access to the information they seek without going through an intermediary. Luftman explains the reason behind the jump: “These are things that can help improve business productivity and reduce costs, the No.1 CIO management concern.”

  1. Business intelligence
  2. Server virtualization
  3. ERP systems
  4. Customer corporate portals
  5. Enterprise application integration
  6. Continuity planning/disaster recovery

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