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Firms Focus on Information Security

May 20, 2009
Protecting trade secrets and intellectual property is critical in any economy.

Information security -- protecting the confidentiality, integrity and availability of information -- is the top IT investment priority for many manufacturers.

That's the conclusion of a survey conducted in January by the Menlo Park, Calif.-based IT staffing firm Robert Half Technology, which found that 42% of CIOs in the manufacturing sector said their companies will invest in information security technology in the next 12 months. In most other sectors -- including transportation, finance and retail -- information security is the top IT priority as well, according to the survey results.

Dave Willmer, executive director of Robert Half Technology, explains that manufacturers are investing in information security during these difficult economic times because firms "have a personal interest in terms of securing trade secrets, intellectual property and operational data."

Robert Half Technology's Dave Willmer notes that most IT investments in today's economy are focused on "trying to save money or make money."

"If those things are compromised, manufacturers run more of a risk than maybe other sectors," Willmer says.

The other motivating factor, according to Willmer, is the mass exodus of manufacturing employees in recent months due to layoffs and downsizing, which creates the potential for trade secrets to walk out the front door.

"Obviously your No. 1 threat for security, generally speaking, is in your internal resources -- i.e. your internal employees," Willmer says.

As for the next-highest IT priorities in manufacturing, 23% of manufacturing CIOs said they plan to invest in data-center efficiency, while 22% said they plan to invest in business intelligence and virtualization, respectively. Next on the list of priorities are Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and software as a service (SaaS), both of which were mentioned by 19% of manufacturing CIOs.

According to the survey, Web 2.0 (8%) is the lowest IT priority for manufacturers.

Robert Half Technology conducted telephone interviews with more than 1,400 CIOs representing companies with 100 or more employees, and asked the CIOs if their companies plan to invest in IT over the next 12 months. Willmer sees a common thread among the survey results in all sectors.

"The projects and investments that are being made across the board are mostly tied to business decisions trying to save money or make money," Willmer explains.

Even with the focus on short-term survival, Willmer notes that firms "also are trying to make sure they are prepared for growth when conditions improve."

"Enhancing their IT infrastructure is part of that process," he says.

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