Conducted by ISACA, a global association serving more than 95,000 IT governance, assurance and security professionals, the "Top Business/Technology Issues Survey" found that the business issues that traditionally challenge ISACA members — such as compliance, governance and information security management — continue to dominate the list of major worries.
However, the increase in regulations, data breaches and new technologies such as Cloud computing and the rise of personal technology in the workplace are accelerating complexity and risk.
"This year's survey shows more clearly than ever that information technology cannot be managed in a vacuum," said Tony Noble, CISA, a member of ISACA's Guidance and Practices Committee and vice president of IT audit at Viacom Inc.. "From the growing number of government regulations to consumer privacy concerns to hacktivist attacks, enterprise IT assets are being challenged in ways that go far beyond the server room."
Noble added that the study also reveals a marked perception that the business side of the organization believes IT is managed in a silo, which indicates an opportunity for better aligning business with IT to unlock greater value.
The survey report ranks key business issues affecting IT, based their weighted scores. The weighted score is the average ranking multiplied by the number of responses, and the scoring gives weight to the degree of importance on which survey respondents ranked each issue. Higher scores indicate higher importance.
The key issues, along with their weighted scores, were:
- Regulatory compliance (Score: 4.6)
- Enterprise-based IT management and governance (Score: 4.4)
- Information security management (Score: 4.1)
- Disaster recovery/business continuity (Score: 3.1)
- Challenges of managing IT risks (Score: 2.5)
- Vulnerability management (Score: 2.1)
- Continuous process improvement and business agility (Score: 2.0)
Survey data reveal four areas that just missed the top seven this year, but are expected to rise in importance in future member surveys: Cloud computing, mobile device management, virtualization and business intelligence.
Regulatory Compliance Is No. 1 Concern
Enterprises are facing a need to manage growth in a challenging global economy while at the same time complying with a growing number of regulations and standards. New or changed regulations expected to impact enterprise IT in the next 12 to 18 months include Basel, Frank-Dodd, PII, Do Not Track, Solvency II and HITECH Meaningful Use, as well as an overall tightening of tax and privacy regulations worldwide.
The survey also shows that there is a growing focus on enterprise-based IT management and IT governance. This finding aligns with the IT Governance Institute's recent "Global Status Report on the Governance of Enterprise IT (GEIT)", which showed that 95 percent of the C-level executives surveyed consider governance of enterprise IT important. According to the "Top Business/Technology Issues Survey," managing IT project risk tops the list of concerns within this area, rated as most important by 45 percent.
Growing Number of Security Breaches
After many well-publicized data breaches and losses — and massive spending on state-of-the-art security technologies — organizations are realizing that information security is about being able to manage information adequately. One of the top concerns expressed by ISACA members was the lack of senior management involvement in setting direction for information security, which was ranked as important or very important by a total of 80 percent of responses.
"Occurrences such as WikiLeaks, the Zeus botnet and an overall rise in identity theft show in 2010 that the variety and volume of threats is on the upswing," noted Greg Grocholski, CISA, director at ISACA and corporate auditor at The Dow Chemical Co. "Security is everyone's business, not just IT's. This area will continue to be a losing battle if organizations don't get top-down commitment."
Lack of Awareness among Business Management
From flooding to power outages to acts of terrorism and civil unrest, all business activity is at risk for disruption. Despite advances in software, continuity remains an elusive goal. According to the survey, the biggest problem (87 percent) is the lack of awareness among business managers that they are responsible for being able to maintain critical functions in the event of a disaster.
These business issues are among the topics that will be addressed at upcoming ISACA events. The North America Computer Audit, Control and Security (CACS) conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, May 15-19, will examine the human factors of IT and feature several sessions on advancements in social media, Cloud computing and mobile devices.
The World Congress, taking place in National Harbor, Maryland, June 27-29, provides high-level thought leadership across the complete range of ISACA disciplines: IT audit, governance, compliance, security and risk management.
More information on the findings of the "Top Business/Technology Issues Survey" are available at www.isaca.org/toptech.