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Guest Post: What’s keeping IT leaders awake at night?

Technology recruitment is on the rise. Following widespread underinvestment in IT infrastructure during the downturn, we’ve seen UK corporates moving forward with previously stalled initiatives and I strongly believe that this trend is set to continue. Coupled with the rise of technology businesses and their need to quickly grow their headcount, there is a profound skills shortage facing the industry.

Recent Robert Half Technology research amongst IT directors found that more than nine in 10 (91%) UK IT leaders are planning to increase their investment in technology in the following 12 months, with new projects including business intelligence, mobile solutions, application development, information risk and security and virtualisation initiatives.

I’m not surprised to see IT security, including fighting cybercrime, data recovery and data management at the top of today’s CIO’s list of concerns. IT security as an issue has become an increasing priority across the wider business and leadership team, with the majority (93%) of CIOs in our study indicating that the number of security threats detected by their firms have either increased or stayed the same in the past year.

As a result, an average of nearly one fifth (19%) of a company’s IT budget is now being allocated to security, with much of this expenditure going towards hiring contract and permanent IT professionals, either directly or via external risk consultancies.

According to our research, another driver behind greater investment in new IT infrastructure is adoption of the cloud.  Cost and convenience are the main reasons for UK organisations to adopt the cloud for IT systems.  More than a third (36%) of CIOs report that the primary benefit of cloud is the ability to manage automatic software and security updates, while a similar proportion (35%) say that reduced or eliminated capital expenditure is the primary benefit.  Flexibility is also a driver for adopting cloud: 33% of CIOs say that the ability to increase bandwidth and scale based on business demand is the main benefit; while a further 30% believe that enhanced remote working capabilities is vital.

However, every cloud has its less than silver lining.  CIOs also report that security risks and data privacy concerns are the biggest challenges associated with cloud technology. These challenges include increased security risks (cited by 52% of CIOs), increased legal and data privacy concerns (37%), implications for cross-border data transfers (33%) and potential increased costs due to user ineffectiveness and/or excessive time wastage (28%).

Despite those concerns, the majority (82%) of CIOs say that the economic benefits derived from moving to cloud outweigh the potential risks involved.  Indeed, the risks associated with cloud have been one factor helping to drive the cloud security software market to a predicted $5 billion USD (2.9B GBP) by 2019 creating a growing requirement for IT professionals with relevant skills and experience.

According to the Robert Half 2015 Salary Guide, salaries for information security roles such as Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) grew by one of the highest rates in the sector (6%) in 2014, suggesting that demand and competition for IT security skills are on the rise.

And according to industry body e-Skills UK, employment within the technology sector is forecast to grow by 2.19% per year, nearly five times faster than the UK average.  Whichever way you look at it, IT security skills are set to be in demand for some time to come.  In my view, there’s never been a better time to hone your technical skills and follow a career in information security

charlie-grubbCharlie Grubb is an Associate Director with Robert Half Technology. With more than 20 years of technology recruitment experience, Charlie is an expert on the latest trends impacting the industry as well as the resulting recruitment impact on UK businesses.

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