Australian IT leaders spend up on security as global weekly tech spend explodes to US15 billion – iTWire

An extra US15 billion a week has been spent globally on technology by IT leaders to enable safe and secure home working during the first wave of the COVID-19 crisis, representing one of the biggest surges in technology investment in history – with Australian IT leaders increasing spending on cyber security, despite struggling to find skilled cyber security professionals, according to a new global survey.

The survey found that Australian organisations have struggled to find skilled cyber security professionals to support the “dramatic shift” to home working – with 42% of Australian CIOs reporting that cyber security is now the most ‘in demand’ technology skill – the “first time” a security related skill has topped the list of global technology skills shortages for over a decade.

Nearly nine in ten (89%) of Australian IT leaders reported an increase in phishing attacks, and over two thirds (77%) of these were from malware, which the report says suggests that the massive move to home working has increased exposure from employees.

Billed as the largest technology leadership survey in the world of over 4,200 IT leaders – including 265 based in Australia – the 2020 Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey also found that despite the huge surge of spending, security & privacy was the top investment during COVID-19 – with 4 in 10 Australian IT leaders reporting that their company has experienced more cyber attacks.

And, although technology spend has risen dramatically during the pandemic, the survey found that technology budgets will be under more strain over the year ahead.

Prior to COVID-19, over half (55%) of Australian IT leaders expected a budget rise in the next 12 months, but during the pandemic this number declined to 38%, but still representing a net increase in budgets.

And the survey also found that 9 in 10 Australian IT leaders during COVID-19 are concerned about the mental health of their team which has resulted in 8 in 10 IT leaders (78%) putting programs in place to support their staff.

According to the survey, the global spending spree has seen the world’s IT leaders spending more than their annual budget rise in just three months, as the worldwide crisis hit and lockdowns began to be enforced.

And although technology spend has risen dramatically during the pandemic, the survey found that technology budgets will be under more strain over the year ahead.

Other key findings from the global technology survey include:

  • Digital companies pull away – Digital leaders were more likely than non-digital leaders to make additional technology investments as a result of COVID-19 – with 50% more organisations that are ‘very’ or ‘extremely effective’ at using digital technologies spending an additional 21-50% globally – notably in Australia this figure is three times more. These investments focused on large-scale implementations of Distributed Cloud (42% – 30% in Australia) and SaaS (34% – 32% in Australia). The crisis has served to emphasise a growing divide between organisations driving their strategy through technology, and those that aren’t.
  • Cloud investment up – After investment in security and privacy (58%), investment in infrastructure and the cloud was the third (fifth in Australia) most important technology investment during COVID-19, with the number of IT leaders actively considering Distributed Cloud nearly doubling in just 12 months (from 11% to 21%). This has tripled in Australia from 7% in 2019 to 22% during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Skills shortages – Prior to COVID-19, 2020 skills shortages remained close to an all-time high. Subsequently, shortages in tech talent have remained high. In addition to cyber security skills (42%), the next three most scarce technology skills are organisational change management (24%), advanced analytics (24%) enterprise architecture (22%) and IT strategy (17%).

Bruce Goldsmith, Managing Director, Harvey Nash Australia said: “It may seem obvious that the threat to an organisation’s cyber security would increase with so many employees working remotely, but for 4 in 10 that threat has become very real.”

“This is exacerbated by the fact that the same number of organisations are also suffering from a shortage of skills in cyber. Hopefully with the increase in investment in cyber and privacy these organisations can protect themselves going forward, particularly as many employees won’t be going back to the office full-time.“

“Technology has never been more important to Australia organisations’ ability to survive and thrive in the new reality IT has proven its role as a critical enabler throughout the pandemic as organisations have rapidly transitioned to hybrid working,” said Guy Holland, Partner-in-Charge, KPMG Digital Delta in Australia.

“As the new reality continues to be shaped by economic recovery patterns unique to each sector and location, digital transformation will become a key driver of recovery and growth. One thing remains consistent; the urgency to act swiftly and decisively.”

“This unexpected and unplanned surge in technology investment has also been accompanied by massive changes in how organisations operate – with more organisational change in the last six months than we have seen in the last ten years,” said Bev White, CEO, Harvey Nash Group.

“Success will largely be about how organisations deal with their culture and engage with their people. In a world where location has dissolved, where the office now includes the kitchen table, and where over 80% of IT leaders are concerned about the mental health of their teams, organisations will need to reformulate their employee offer to attract and retain the talent they need to support them through the pandemic, and beyond.”

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