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IT budgets are shifting amid the COVID-19 pandemic

CIOs are pivoting to invest in communication and collaboration tools as well as mobile security, a new Pulse survey finds.



With more employees working from home as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, IT departments have had to reprioritize their initiatives to enable their companies to continue to operate during the crisis.

New data from Pulse, an online research and networking hub for CIOs and tech execs, finds that 45% of CIOs say they’re shifting to internal communication and collaboration tools, while 39% said they’re focusing more on mobile security.

Specifically, there has been a heightened focus on deploying VPNs (36%), password management (32%), encrypted communication tools (26%), multi-factor authentication (22%), and endpoint detection and response (19%), among other technologies, Pulse said.

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Not everyone is planning new projects: 23% of CIOs said their budgets are completely frozen–with 20% saying they’re facing a more than 10% decrease. Another 49% said their budgets have declined.

“There’s been a major shift over the last several months, at an aggressive pace, to enable remote work,” the Pulse survey quoted Michael Wahl, senior director of IT and cybersecurity at the Tweddle Group, as saying. “Freezing budgets may allow organizations to step back and evaluate technology now that the workforce is remote–but the trade-off could mean taking a foot off the digital transformation gas pedal.”

However, in two months’ time, 24% of the respondents said budgets will ramp back up, including 9% of CIOs who believe they will increase more than 10%. Twenty-two percent of CIOs said they will be making a single large spend over the next six months that totals over $100,000.

“Many companies are going to allow (or require) employees to work from home after the pandemic, due to health concerns and reduced overhead,” the Pulse survey quoted Brian Sampietro, CIO of TGI Office Automation, as saying. “The fact that CIOs are investing in security and end-user technology–even though budgets are decreasing–indicates this.”

The IT budget study also found that 69% of CIOs said their main source of support in purchasing decision making comes from peer recommendations, followed by industry analysts (52%) and online IT communities (46%).

When evaluating IT needs for the organization right now, 69% of CIOs said they are using a mix of executive and end user decisions, while 21% said they are making an executive decision. Only 10% said it is based on end user request only.

The study also found that 35% of CIOs said it only takes them one week to decide on new tool purchases, while 39% said it takes one to four weeks.

Layoffs in IT aren’t done yet, according to the study. While the same number of CIOs have maintained their number of full-time staff as those who have cut headcount (48%), the majority said they are planning to reduce team size in the next six months.

The Pulse survey was based on responses from 100 CIOs collected between May 7 and May 22, 2020. Forty-six percent work in enterprise organizations, 44% work in small organizations, and 10% work in mid-sized organizations.

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