Technology budgets have shifted dramatically since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a recent study from online CIO networking and information hub, Pulse. The pandemic, and its resulting shutdown, will likely continue to have a substantial impact on technology budgets for some time.
The initial budgetary impact was substantial. When COVID-19 first arrived, many technology budgets were frozen in place. Today, 23% of CIOs report that their budgets are still frozen with 49% reporting a decline in their technology budgets. Seventeen percent said that they expect to decrease their budgets by more than 10% in the next two months.
Fortunately, it’s not all bad news. Many respondents, 24% of them, predict that within the next two months their budgets will rise, including 9% of respondents who believe their budgets will increase more than 10%. However, most CIOs (27%) say that their IT budget won’t change in the near future.
“And an additional 6% anticipate their budget will become frozen in the next two months — though, on a positive note, this figure is down from 23% two months ago,” stated the report.
Surprisingly, there hasn’t been a change in business-technology priorities over the past two months for 79% of respondents, while 21% said that they now have different priorities than from the beginning of the pandemic.
The priorities of those surveyed include focusing on internal communication and collaboration tools (45%), mobile security (39%), customer communication and collaboration tools (37%), password management tools (28%), virtual private networks (28%), security awareness training (24%), remote desktop tools (23%), encrypted communication tools (23%), and data security tools (15%).
“Many companies are going to allow (or require) employees to work from home after the pandemic, due to health concerns and reduced overhead. The fact that CIOs are investing in security and end-user technology — even though budgets are decreasing — indicates this,” said Brian Sampietro, CIO at TGI Office Automation, in the report.
For those organizations who changed their priorities, the new budget items include virtual private networks (36%), password management (32%), remote desktop tools (30%), data security tools (27%), encrypted communication tools (26%) and mobile security (21%).
How are CIOs making decisions when it comes to technology purchases? The majority said peer recommendations (69%) and industry analysts (52%). However, social media and email fared poorly as influencers, at 23% and 20% respectively. CIOs are determining needs, according to the survey, based on both executive and end-user requests. Only 10% said they depend upon user requests alone, and only 21% said executives solely drive decisions. Interestingly, 35% of CIOs make decisions quickly: Within one week they said they will decide on the right tool to acquire. The rest said they take more than a month (26%) or within four weeks (39%).
When it comes to layoffs, there are still rough patches ahead, as a sizable number of organizations still have layoffs on the planning table. While 48% of organizations have maintained their headcount through the COVID-19 crises, 40% do plan to cut staff sizes in the next six months, with 25% not sure if they will cut staffs.