Forecast 2019: IT Budgets Will Grow in Support of Enterprise Culture

eWEEK DATA POINTS: As the roles of business and technology units continue to blur, IT budgets appear positioned to soar. But successful outcomes amount to more than simply boosted spend–the required talent will need to be in place, and CIOs and other tech leaders must align IT direction with strategic goals.

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In the current age of digital transformation, the walls between tech and other departments continue to crumble. Indeed, we may be swiftly heading to an end game in which there is no longer a designated place for “IT” and another for “business.” There will only be the enterprise, and everyone who is a part of it will have a say about what innovative solutions should drive toward the accomplishment of essential goals.

A recent “look ahead” at 2019 forecast from TEKsystems validates this trend, as more than 110 tech leaders—including CIOs, IT directors and hiring managers—express significant optimism for budget growth to support an “everyone owns tech” purchase and deployment culture. As opposed to diminishing IT’s stature, the shift signifies that tech teams will increasingly emerge as critical influencers of strategic direction.

However, as that direction will depend upon the command of advancements such as the internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence and machine learning, organizations will have to commit to a level of talent recruitment acquisition and development required to make it all happen.

In this eWEEK Data Point article, we take a closer look at seven key findings from the TEKsystems forecast, and what it all means to IT leaders and their teams.

Data Point No. 1: IT budgets headed for expansions

The democratization of technology appears poised to “unleash” IT spending enterprise-wide in 2019. With line-of-business units now empowered to make purchase decisions and drive new initiatives, 57 percent of organizations project IT budget increases for next year—the most since 2014. Only one quarter, in contrast, plan to cut their tech spend.

Data Point No. 2: Talent availability influences innovation plans

It’s a brave new world indeed for IT, and that’s a good thing: Nearly two-thirds of tech leaders express confidence in their department’s ability to support new initiatives for the year ahead. If these projects require skills that don’t currently exist within the company, leadership must account for enough advanced time to recruit and/or train for the kind of talent that’s up to the task at hand.

Data Point No. 3: Centralized operations models to drive day-to-day tasks

While new initiatives are important, so are already established routines and tasks, and IT appears on firm ground here: More than three-quarters of tech leaders are confident that their teams are capable of supporting line-of-business and core IT demands, with less than one in 10 conveying doubts. To successfully maintain existing applications, services and infrastructure, organizations will stick with a more traditional, centralized IT operations model.

Data Point No. 4: Projects cover digital change and data defense

In terms of specific initiative priorities, it all comes down to a transformation—and protection. At least seven of 10 enterprises will focus on cloud and mobile app implementations, with agile/scrum and big data/analytics nearly as in-demand. Security, however, rules over all, as it is considered a project deployment priority for four of five organizations.

Data Point No. 5: IoT, AI and ML about to have their day

The time may be right for the IoT, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to transition from conceptual curiosities to mainstream deployments. If these emerging technologies haven’t quite yet “arrived,” they’re on the way: No less than one-quarter of enterprises expect to launch projects involving them within the next two years.

Data Point No. 6: Alignment gap creates formidable challenge

Do we understand each other? Well, not always, apparently. Organization alignment (i.e., whether IT and business are connecting on what, when and how tech projects need to happen) stands firm for the second year in a row as the top concern among IT leaders. There are also misgivings about governance, especially whether these projects are grounded with an understanding of business strategies in order to sufficiently support the strategies with adequate resources and budgeting.

Data Point No. 7: Looking out for 'the new' while improving 'the old'

Ultimately, IT is expected to “get things done.” For 2019, this “to do” list includes both implementing new IT apps and infrastructure while improving what’s already there. Tech teams must also work toward the creation of products and services, the improvement of efficiencies/business processes and the reduction of costs. In addition, the C-suite will be watching to see how IT contributes to bottom-line impact in the form of revenue/profit growth.