What Are Tech Leaders Focused on in 2017As organizations continue to see mass digitization of the workplace, aligning IT with business objectives has never been more important. Across industries, tech leaders are increasingly taking the role of a collaborative business partner, rather than the more straightforward position of help desk and IT services provider. In the rapidly evolving world of technology, this shift in leadership focus changes how tech leaders approach the most prominent issues facing their departments. Below we explore the trends that tech leaders are focused on in 2017.

Cybersecurity

According to a recent Computerworld survey of tech leaders, 47% of respondents reported an increase in budget allowances for security. 2016 saw a continued rise in cyberattacks, especially from well-known entities like LinkedIn, Yahoo, and even the Department of Homeland Security. But it’s not just the big-name brands that are being targeted. As cutting edge technologies are adopted and embraced at a more rapid pace, security updates fall behind or are simply inadequate in the face of increasingly complex technology.

Thus, cybersecurity is the single largest challenge facing CIOs and tech leaders, no matter how large or well-known their company. Threat and vulnerability assessments are essential, as is implementing a robust, holistic security program. Unfortunately, achieving these deliverables will be problematic, as cybersecurity is reportedly the most difficult skill set to hire for. Many industry influencers claim a significant cybersecurity skills shortage, especially in niches such as healthcare IT, government, and financial services. As such, IT leaders must be prepared to prioritize security initiatives and corresponding hiring initiatives in 2017.

Big Data

The second greatest increase in IT budget allowances, according to Computerworld, is in big data and business intelligence. In fact, 30 percent of tech leaders believe big data technologies will have the greatest impact on their organization in the next 3-5 years. A recent IBM report revealed that 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created every single day, but without the appropriate big data tools, that data remains hopelessly unstructured and essentially useless.

With the power to help drive business decisions, streamline workplace processes, and reveal critical opportunities, big data is a trend that impacts the entire enterprise, from the frontlines all the way to upper management. Of course, big data by itself is meaningless without the data scientists to glean insight. With thousands of data points, human analysts are integral in asking the right questions and drawing the most valuable (and actionable) conclusions. Implementing the best tools and onboarding the best talent will be key moves in this coming year.

Cloud

Cloud computing is far from being a new trend in the IT world, but the migration to public, private or hybrid cloud services is still highly relevant for many companies. While 79 percent of companies have already implemented cloud technology to some capacity, a quarter of IT leaders continue to see increases in the budget to accommodate migration. Almost a third of these leaders agree that cloud technology will continue to impact organizations in a significant way over the next 3-5 years.

In migrating enterprise data, applications, and infrastructure to the cloud, IT leaders must consider their data volume, database of choice, and security measures. Ideally, the migration should be an opportunity to identify areas of improvement and opportunity. However, as with other trending technologies, cloud professionals are often difficult to find and even harder to recruit. These are roles that require strength in soft skills like communication, collaboration and an understanding of the broader picture, not to mention the niche skills required for every area of this vast field. There’s no such thing as a cookie-cutter cloud architect, so IT leaders must focus on defining exactly who they need.

Upgrading/Replacing Legacy Systems

While new technologies attract the most attention, it’s important not to forget that about one third of IT leaders still report that they’re using, supporting, and hiring for legacy technologies in their companies. Among those older technologies still in use, the top four are DB2, C, Cobol and Assembly Language. The time-tested strength and stability of these technologies are enough to keep many companies dependent on them, particularly in sectors such as banking and insurance, computational physics, and weather forecasting.

However, with the rise of critical tools in big data, cloud, and mobile technologies, these legacy systems are holding many companies back in terms of innovation, security breaches, and operational efficiency. Furthermore, being able to find the professionals who are proficient in these older tools is becoming increasingly difficult. Thus, many IT leaders have a critical focus on modernizing or entirely replacing these legacy systems across their organizations. This involves comprehensive requirements gathering and developing a conscientious, non-disruptive plan for integration and migration.

What Tech Leaders Should Expect in 2017

Ultimately, IT leaders are tasked with leveraging technology for greater business growth. This includes a range of priorities, from employee productivity and customer satisfaction to optimized processes and increased profitability. Cybersecurity, big data, and cloud technologies are just the tip of the iceberg. Organizations that plan on hiring both full time employees and contingent workers for these projects must stay on top of the constant updates and evolutions of these technologies and how they integrate with the bigger picture.

What are your IT initiatives in 2017? Let us assist in your search for the best IT professionals. We’d love to help.

Ella Koscik

Ella Koscik is the CEO, Chairperson of the Board & Owner of MDI Group. If you are interested in learning more about how to justify hiring the best IT talent, contact us at connect@mdigroup.com or 888-416-7949. MDI Group has offices and specializes in recruiting IT talent in Atlanta, Austin, Charlotte, Dallas/Fort Worth, Greenville and Phoenix.