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Survey: IT Decision Makers Must Balance Innovation, Security

Daniel B. Kline, The Motley Fool

Being an information technology decision maker makes you an innovator, but also a police officer. It's important to use technology to grow and innovate, but it's equally important to make sure you protect your data while doing that.

The chief concerns for IT decision makers in this environment are "cybersecurity, the ability to upgrade infrastructure and optimizing IT operations," according to the 2019 Insight Intelligent Technology Index [registration required], an annual study of enterprises based in North America conducted by Insight Enterprises ( NASDAQ: NSIT ).

Half of those surveyed (50%) said that advanced analytics powered by artificial intelligence (AI), big data, machine learning, and deep learning has "been critical to their transformation initiatives over the past two years." About the same amount (44%) believe AI and machine learning will significantly impact the future of IT.

A person points on a computer screen.

Security remains a top concern for IT pros. Image source: Getty Images.

What are the top concerns for IT leaders?

Security remains a top concern for the 400 IT decision makers who were surveyed. In fact, 35% of respondents said that security is the top IT issue that keeps them up at night. Security and data privacy was also the top-ranked innovation challenge, according to 48% of those surveyed.

"There is no greater reality check today in technology than how a business handles its data -- it creates the most challenges and opportunities. While data enables innovation, its vulnerability continues to cause anxiety among IT leaders," said Insight North America president Steve Dodenhoff in a press release. "Companies have no choice but to launch transformative initiatives that allow them to improve how they access and leverage data across geographies, platforms, and systems."

A chart shows the digital innovation challenges facing IT leaders.

Image and Data source: Insight Enterprises.

Innovation is key

About half of respondents (52%) said that their primary "objectives for digital innovation are improving business operations." Improving customer experience and customer relationships follows closely behind at 47%. The vast majority (89%) believe that their digital innovation efforts have been "moderately or very successful," but they believe threats to their continued ability to execute remain, as you can see from the chart above.

"The new normal of IT directly impacting how business processes work has led to an incredible demand to stay ahead of the curve," Insight North America general manager Stan Lequin said in the press release. "You'd be hard pressed to find an enterprise that isn't leaning on their IT teams to work through transformation issues."

A big challenge

In many ways, nearly every company has become a technology company. You can't go to a grocery store or eat at a restaurant without technology being involved, and the success of retail chains has become increasingly dependent on technology-driven supply chain issues.

The challenge for IT leaders -- and it's highlighted by this survey -- is that they have to balance innovation with keeping data secure. Consumers have erratic reactions to data breaches . Some seem to affect where people shop or do business, and others get more or less ignored.

A potential negative reaction from consumers means it's important for you to avoid any data problems. That means all innovation has to be balanced with keeping data secure. Otherwise a company could find itself with impressive technology that the public avoids because of fear over how their data will be protected.

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Daniel B. Kline has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy .