With little to no warning, IT leaders were tasked with maintaining as much operational continuity as possible amid an unprecedented global lockdown: office closures, travel restrictions, social distancing, home quarantines and supply chain disruptions. Since technology mediates almost every single interaction in business, IT leaders have been the key players in their company’s crisis-response plans.

IT priorities have shifted and IT leaders have had to pivot to help their organizations weather what was happening in the world. They have had to:

  • Ensure their organization can manage the huge and sudden spike in the demand for remote-working capacity
  • Protect against the ever-increasing cybersecurity risks with the shift to work-at-home modelsand cloud
  • Keep remote workers connected
  • Support the changing operational needs of the organization
  • Support sudden and unexpected migrations to cloud technologies

Recently, over two-thousand CIOs, VPs of IT and IT directors were asked how their priorities have shifted at this time and what their biggest challenges and initiatives are for the remainder of 2020.The results tell a story about what IT leaders are most concerned about and what IT initiatives they plan to direct budget toward in order to address their challenges and concerns.

Previously, we saw more traditional technology initiatives in play. In this new world, we’re seeing and hearing that IT plans and priorities will never go back to what they were before. As the initial wave of urgency subsides and becomes the new normal, businesses are shifting priorities for 2020 to ensure that they can continue to operate securely and resiliently for these weird and uncertain times.


Here are the responses from 2,000 IT leaders in March and April 2020:

Cybersecurity/information security/network security 900 45%
Data protection/data loss prevention 857 43%
Cloud adoption 849 43%
Compliance, privacy and ethics 610 31%
Backup & recovery/disaster recovery/business continuity 584 29%
Endpoint security/BYOD/mobile device management 565 28%
Aging infrastructure/end of life 508 26%
Server and/or storage performance/speed 401 20%
Want to reduce costs by automating tasks 388 20%
Analytics/predictive analytics 357 18%
Keeping up with growing data/storage demands 342 17%
Data is complex & unstructured/inefficient silo sprawl 311 16%
Managing or storing data in 3rd-party clouds 255 13%


Unquestionably, the three biggest concerns among IT leaders are IT security, data protection and cloud adoption.

1. Cybersecurity, Information Security, Network Security

Cybersecurity vulnerabilities have been highlighted in organizations across the U.S. 45% of the IT leaders said that cybersecurity, information security and network security were top of mind for them. With more and more of their work flows digital and cloud-enabled and the exponential rise in remote workers, risk exposure is far greater and security of their information and networks are huge concerns. Spikes in phishing attacks, malware and ransomware attacks have increased. Not only are businesses being targeted, but end-users on laptops and mobile devices are as well. The data shows that IT leaders have not only shifted to enable their remote workforce,but have also had to dynamically shift security to protect remote employees and the data and systems they access.

2. Data Protection/Data Loss Prevention

43% of the CIOs,VPs of IT and IT directors who responded reported data protection and data loss prevention as one of their top three challenges. The shift to remote work models has generated a cluster of privacy, data protection, security and compliance questions. These challenges are driving the need for companies to ensure their data is secure and protected, as well as ensure that their data protection practices are forward looking. Many data protections trategies were focused on company networks. Devices taken out of the office for remote work have been serious cause for concern when it comes to data protection and data loss prevention.

3. Cloud Adoption

The effort to maintain business operations has put cloud technologies at the forefront for many organizations. 43% of the IT leaders said that they are working on cloud adoption. Many organizations have been moving towards cloud as part of their digital transformation strategies and recent events have been a catalyst to these initiatives, in some cases. In others, the impact has stamped out any barriers to cloud adoption. Cloud has been the answer to the immediate needs for remote business in response to the unprecedented times, but companies won’t return to their old ways when they’re on the other side of this. Many CIOs are saying that the impact to their business ha sopened up their eyes to pain points they weren’t aware of, which is driving more of a cloud or hybrid cloud strategy.

So What Does This Mean to You?

IT leaders are still finding their footing with this new normal that has been ushered in. Technology has emerged at the core as the indisputable driver of value in supporting business continuity. IT has been the lifeline during this time. CIOs are implementing changes in their playbooks that include shifting spends to remotework, proactive security and data protection as well as cloud adoption. IT leaders want to capitalize on the momentum of the digital transformation that has occurred as a result and take this opportunity to rebuild operations and processes, and accelerate the adoption of digital solutions.

Originally published by Arrow, Five Years Out