IT managers’ top 5 priorities for 2013

IT’s priorities haven’t changed much over the past few years, but they have evolved based on new trends and developments. Here’s some advice for IT managers to help overcome their organization’s top tech challenges for this year. 

Last year, IT leaders’ said their top priority was migrating to Windows 7, according to a TechTarget survey. However, with most organizations planning to move to that operating system having already done so — and will few companies planning to move to Windows 8 — OS upgrades weren’t near the top of the priority list for 2013.

So what will IT departments be working on this year? The answers aren’t too different from in years past. Here are the top five priorities for 2013 listed by the 3,200 IT managers surveyed, and what organizations can do to help meet their goals:

1. Data protection (cited by 56% of respondents)

Security is always a big concern for IT, and things are no different this year, especially with the rise of new threats to information that many firms have yet to prepare for.

One thing IT will need to focus on: protecting data when it goes mobile, particularly while held on users’ personal smartphones and tablets. Doing so will begin with developing and properly communicating an effective BYOD policy.

2. Server virtualization (53%)

Virtualization has been on IT’s radar for several years now, but most companies are still trying to consolidate their physical servers so they can save on hardware costs, ease management , cut power needs, and reap other benefits.

One important step as companies develop and refine their virtualization strategies is deciding which machines make good candidates to virtualize. Read our earlier post for a list of situations in which IT may want to avoid server virtualization.

3. Network-based security (51%)

In addition to protecting data, especially when it’s carried around on mobile devices or held in the cloud, companies are also focusing on beefing up the protection in their own in-house networks.

And many of the threats against networks come from Internet and become problems based on users’ unsafe browsing habits. In addition to browsing policies and web filters, IT can use security awareness training to help users keep the network safe.

4. Disaster recovery and business continuity (50%)

In addition to keeping information secure, IT must make sure the business is able to stay up and running if data is lost or systems become unavailable.

And many are turning to cloud-based disaster recovery services because they can provide that opportunity in ways that might have been too expensive for many organizations otherwise. However, that approach does have some drawbacks and companies must follow expert advice on choosing a cloud-based disaster recovery service.

5. Business intelligence and analytics (46%)

As more data becomes available to companies, IT departments are being tasked with collecting, analyzing and storing that information. That includes so-called big data, which refers to unstructured data coming from sources such as social media and mobile interactions.

To take advantage of that information, one thing companies need is a staff that’s skilled in big data. To beat the competition for those employees, companies can try working with academic institutions that are starting new programs to train big data employees.

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