We are living in a rapidly advancing digital age. Every day businesses are investing in new technologies, implementing new products, and prioritizing which innovations are worth spending for — with some currently top of mind being data & analytics, collaboration, and cybersecurity tools.

And after a year which saw fluctuation in tech spending during the coronavirus pandemic, the latest tech budget projections are once more trending steadily upward. According to the CIO Tech Poll: Tech Priorities 2021 study, half of IT decision-makers (ITDMs) expect their technology budgets to increase over the next 12 months.

Moreover, with leaders pursuing and advancing their digital business initiatives—investing in new technology is unlikely to show signs of slowing. The question merely becomes, which investments are they actively researching and planning to adopt?

Prioritizing Cybersecurity Investments

For many IT decision-makers, cybersecurity is taking precedence. The latest CIO Tech Poll: Tech Priorities 2021 revealed cybersecurity as the single most important tech project for IT departments. And with rising risks, budgets are reflecting this shift – 65% of ITDMs are planning to increase spending on cybersecurity over the next 12 months. Additionally, 21% of organizations are planning on upgrading their cybersecurity tools over the next 12 months, which is the largest upgrade percentage among all of the other technologies.

Source: CIO Tech Poll: Tech Priorities 2021

But for many organizations, deciding on where to allocate spending is only a means to an end. Safer cybersecurity first begins with evaluating which vendor is right for the job.

Evaluating Emerging Cybersecurity Vendors

Amidst the digital transformation, technology leaders are actively evaluating emerging vendors, and as a result, ITDMs are developing favored evaluation methods:

  • Implementing pilot testing/product demonstrations (63%)
  • Attending external events and/or conferences, in-person or virtual (57%)
  • Reading expert reviews (52%)
  • Creating a specialized review team (41%)
  • Research analyst firms and follow their best practices (40%)
  • Customer references (39%)

With these preferences in mind, cybersecurity vendors will need to provide opportunities that allow ITDMs to evaluate their tools and solutions using these methods. The ability to do so could the open door to increased vendor engagement and long lasting relationship. While overlooking these insights could result in lost business. Per IDG’s 2021 Customer Engagement research, 72% of ITDMs report that if a vendor does not supply educational content during research, it negatively impacts their impression.

Adopting & Implementing New Technologies

While the addition of new technologies has certainly provided organizations with profound benefits over the past year and a half, ITDMs still face two major obstacles when it comes to implementing new technologies, including cybersecurity tools. Those are lack of budget and lack of staff.

Source: CIO Tech Poll: Tech Priorities 2021

However, further complicating matters is skillset (47%) within organizations. Therefore, instead of pivoting around limitations—more resources are being absorbed to keep pace.

Such as training & development, including:

  • Upskilling existing talent (70%)
  • Reskill existing talent (58%)
  • Hire new full-time employees (43%)
  • Contract with gig workers (31%)

These insights help bring to light a vital need going unserved. For this reason, cybersecurity vendors must work seamlessly to make the implementation process as smooth as possible. It’s through this kind of effort that not only serves as great customer support but builds lasting relationships.

All things considered, with IT leaders focusing on cybersecurity in the year ahead, rising budgets mean new investments. And for tech vendors, successfully meeting these needs—relies on helping customers overcome the challenges of new technology, including—vendor evaluation, product adoption, and overall implementation.

Download a shortened version of the study for deeper insights into ITDMs’ technology priorities for the upcoming year, or contact us to receive an in-depth research briefing.

Engage with security leaders as they share their knowledge and expertise at the CSO50 Conference & Awards, taking place virtually November 16-18, 2021. Become a sponsor and gain targeted visibility towards your cybersecurity products and services.