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Many IT leaders' top concerns don't jibe with organizations' priorities

Top IT pros have plenty to be thankful for these days: rising budgets, salaries and job tenures among them. But when it comes to IT management and spending priorities, these IT leaders often don't see eye to eye with their organizations.

Top IT pros have plenty to be thankful for these days: rising budgets, salaries and job tenures among them. But when it comes to IT management and spending priorities, these IT leaders often don't see eye to eye with their organizations.

These are among the findings from the 2013 SIM IT Trends Study, which is based on surveys of 650 CIOs and other senior IT leaders at nearly 500 organizations with median annual revenue of half a billion dollars. Survey results were revealed Monday in Boston at the Society for Information Management annual conference by Leon Kappelman, with whom I spoke on Friday,  and other members of the research team. Kappelman is lead researcher, professor of information systems and director emeritus of the Information Systems Research Center for the College of Business at the University of North Texas.

[BY THE NUMBERS: View a slideshow of more survey results]

Despite the tough economy in recent years, "IT appears fairly resilient and generally seen as part of the solution' during these still challenging times," the survey team concludes.

To that point, peruse these findings:

  • The average IT employee salary rose from 2012 to 2013, according to 89% of respondents and is projected to increase in 2014 from 2013, according to 90% of respondents.
  • The number of internal full-time IT employees rose or remained flat from 2012 to 2013, according to 72% of respondents, and 82% said the number of such employees will increase or say the same from 2013 to 2014.  Increasingly, those employees are being deployed in hybrid IT organizations that are less and less centralized and rely more on a federated approach in which IT people are sprinkled in among end users an approach that can improve customer service and snuff out troublesome rogue IT efforts, according to Kappelman.
  • The percentage of revenue allocated to the IT budget fell between 3.5% and 3.87% from 2005 to 2011, but jumped to 4.94% in 2012 and nudged up to 4.95% this year.
  • IT budgets stayed the same or rose from 2012 to 2013, according to 73% of respondents, and you can expect increases or no change from 2013 to 2014, said 77% of survey takers.

However, there are some concerning trends, too, for IT leaders.

For example, while security accounts for the 14th largest IT investment at organizations, security is the No.2 biggest worry for IT leaders. Other examples of priorities not quite matching up: Disaster recovery is the 11th largest IT investment area but the third biggest concern for IT leaders, and BYOD is No.21 on the investment list, but No.5 on the concerns list.  

Kappelman called these findings "eye opening," and deepened his appreciation for the complexity of IT leadership.

"They want to optimize IT but also want to help optimize the business, and sometimes those things are in conflict," he says. While the results initially troubled Kappelman, upon speaking to IT people and further reflecting, he believes it is natural for the IT leader's viewpoint to differ from that of the organization in that "IT is an indirect contributor to most corporate objectives in other words, we don't directly increase revenue or market share, though we do all these things indirectly by doing great IT."

And it's not as if IT leaders and their organizations are completely at odds. Analytics/business intelligence is the top IT investment and also the top investment of concern among IT leaders. Alignment of IT and business is the No.1 management concern among organizations and IT leaders alike.

IT leaders and organization both seem to be on board as well with cloud computing, which four out of five organizations surveyed said they use, and more than a quarter of IT services delivered are cloud based. Kappelman said cloud adoption is just "good economics" and allows organizations to focus most on what they value doing.

One other interesting note, being that we're Network World: Network/telecommunications rose from being the 12th biggest IT investment area in 2012 to No.8 this year. Why? Kappelman isn't quite sure, but suspects it could have something to do with technologies needed to consolidate data centers.  He also pointed to findings from the survey that showed an increase in spending on "things" vs. people, and attributed this to a "catch-up" cycle during the tougher economy when big spending on technology was put off.

Bob Brown tracks network research in his Alpha Doggs blog and Facebook page, as well on Twitter and Google +. 

Read more about infrastructure management in Network World's Infrastructure Management section.

Tags CloudNetworkinginfrastructure managementwirelessCIOcloud computinginternetIT managementmanagementBYODconsumerization of IT

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