IT departments have never been more influential. Bigger budgets, increased security threats and the proliferation of devices have meant that IT professionals play a pivotal role in balancing strategic thinking and daily operational realities. This responsibility sees them taking charge of the evaluation and deployment of emerging technologies, with issues around BYOD, cloud computing and device management at the top of the agenda. In collaboration with Spiceworks Voice, Kensington conducted a survey of IT professionals in the US and UK to assess the top IT trends for 2016. All of those surveyed are actively involved in IT decisions and/or deployment in their organization.

Strategy

To kick-off we asked IT decision-makers for their plans for 2016. With strategies more or less set for the year ahead, the survey showed that the top strategic priorities for 2016 were network security, infrastructure refreshes and, importantly, OS updates. Other significant priorities include migration to the cloud, with 23% of respondents identifying this as a priority, and BYOD and CYOD policies, which a fifth of IT professionals said was a priority for 2016. Two of the big takeaways from this section of the survey, then, are the prioritization of network security and OS updates, with high-profile data breaches and the launch of Windows 10 key factors.

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Risks

Leading on from this, we then asked participants to outline the biggest IT security risks in 2016. Many of these, such as human error (46%), loss or theft of devices (11%) and compliance failures (45%) are familiar and won’t come as any surprise to anyone who’s worked in an IT department.  More topical, however, is the prominence of external threats, with DoS attacks and data breaches featuring prominently in the headlines in 2015. It’s not just CIOs who are alert to the risks. CEOs, too, are increasingly aware of the various security threats IT infrastructure and its potential to affect the bottom line.

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Obstacles

As well as looking at IT managers’ priorities and the risks faced by their departments, we also looked at the main obstacles faced by CIOs and IT decision-makers.  Once again, many of these may seem familiar. For example, a lack of resources and insufficient budget were highlighted by 45% and 40% of respondents respectively. Beyond these perennial obstacles, the survey also suggested that some businesses are yet to integrate IT and strategic planning. For example, 37% of those surveyed said that IT was still seen as a cost rather than an opportunity, while 14% said there were competing priorities between senior management and IT.

In the coming weeks, we’ll be reporting on our findings in relation to productivity and deployment within an organization, as well as in the roles and responsibilities of an IT manager themselves. Check back in the coming weeks to read the full report.

Are you an IT professional? What’s the biggest obstacle you face? Let us know your thoughts on the latest IT trends via LinkedIn.