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IT Priorities 2017 survey: Compliance initiatives in full throttle

Regulatory compliance initiatives remain at the top of GRC professionals' lists of priorities this year, according to TechTarget's annual IT Priorities survey.

The Donald Trump administration has made it a priority to roll back federal compliance regulations that have become...

the norm for global industry.

But findings from the TechTarget IT Priorities 2017 survey found that regulations remain top of mind for the majority of compliance professionals. Among the slice of respondents who reported working in compliance and corporate governance, nearly two-thirds reported that their organizations plan to implement compliance initiatives this year.  

The commitment to compliance doesn't surprise former Apple CEO John Sculley. In a recent interview with SearchCIO, Sculley said meeting industry compliance rules can help offset the numerous data security threats facing modern companies.

"Particularly in regulated industries, compliance is essential," Sculley said. "[But] even if you're not in a regulated industry, with the challenges with cybersecurity, one wants to have very, very clear discipline and protocols as to how you're going to deal with security issues."

Now in its ninth year, the IT Priorities 2017 survey queried 971 IT professionals about the key application, infrastructure and other tech-related initiatives their companies will be undertaking this year. The respondents represented a wide range of industry verticals based in North America.

Of the 108 survey respondents who said "compliance or corporate governance" was one of the top three areas they spent time on, 64% said they planned to implement compliance initiatives in 2017. Next on the list of priorities among this group was IT automation (39%), followed by big data analytics (30%) and hybrid IT -- on-premises systems integrated with cloud services -- also 30%.

High-level IT executives charged with overseeing governance, risk and compliance are increasingly involved in wide ranging tech initiatives such as these, because they have become so important to the success of digitized business operations, Sculley said.

"IT used to be kind of the service you went to after you'd figured the [business] strategy out, but that is no longer true," Sculley said. "IT is very much, for the most successful companies, a C-level role integral to [forming business] strategy."

Security initiatives loomed large for IT Priorities 2017 respondents working in compliance or corporate governance. They highlighted a wide array of security initiatives on their 2017 agendas, including encryption (43%), cloud security (43%), and identity and access management (41%). Topping the list was data security related to employees' social media activities: Fifty-eight percent reported that they planned to implement or upgrade social media management or monitoring tools in 2017.

While social media management monitoring may seem like a good way to improve security, companies need to be careful about potential violations of employee privacy, said Rajiv Gupta, CEO of cloud security software provider Skyhigh Networks, based in Campbell, Calif.

"You have to have a very scalpel-based approach, not a hammer-based approach, to try and make sure that you do not violate privacy while you can still monitor the social media channels," Gupta said.

Essentially, what the cloud gives you [is] awesome infrastructure that enables so many different things.
David GiambrunoCIO, Shutterstock

The compliance and corporate governance respondents reported that mobile projects are on the 2017 horizon, as well, but management of entrenched mobility tools and devices was more important to them than integrating the latest cutting-edge technology. Among those who said their company would implement a mobility initiative this year, 56% said their organization would deploy an enterprise mobility management project this year, while 52% planned to deploy a mobile enterprise application, and 52% said they would deploy or leverage a mobile collaboration application.

Only 26% stated they planned to adopt the use of wearable devices.

In addition to the cloud security investments, survey respondents working in compliance or corporate governance reported increases in cloud budgeting and investment. Of the nearly 60% who said their overall IT budget would increase this year, 56% reported that the increase would go to cloud services, such as computing, storage and applications.

Of those who spend most of their time on compliance initiatives or governance, general IT management, data center infrastructure operations or storage management, 43% said they would invest in cloud storage this year, and 43% said they would deploy cloud backup initiatives. In addition, 60% of respondents who work in compliance or corporate governance and whose companies were planning a software initiative predicted they would use a hybrid cloud deployment model in the coming year -- the most popular deployment model.

Cloud remains popular in IT for a variety of reasons, according to Shutterstock CIO David Giambruno. As IT executives are increasingly asked to do more with less, the cloud can save company resources and, most important, increase the speed of business.

"Speed is a competitive advantage, so if you don't have speed, you're going to lose," Giambruno said. "Essentially, what the cloud gives you [is] awesome infrastructure that enables so many different things."

Next Steps

More from the IT Priorities 2017 survey:

IT leaders remain invested in cloud technology

Tech priorities in 2017 include mix of forward-looking, traditional technology

Virtualization gains in network plans, but legacy not forgotten

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