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Feature

Technology Outlook: IT Priorities For 2007

Data analysis, virtualization, regulation top the to-do list for technology managers this year.
Security Blanket
The battle against hackers never seems to end. More than half of IT managers (54%) say updating their security procedures and software will be a tactical priority for the year. Still, that's down from 82% two years ago.

Data encryption software looks poised to surge in importance--38% of companies put it on their lists of software projects this year, up from 30% last year. Companies have been reluctant to embrace encryption software because of its complexity, so it's notable that 2007 could be the year the technology finally breaks through. In a similar vein, 13% of companies say they plan to introduce biometrics software this year.

Hand in hand with security concerns are fears of compromising employees' and customers' privacy. Last month, thieves swiped from a Boeing employee's desk a laptop that contained personal information--including Social Security numbers and home addresses--on 382,000 employees and retirees. In May, burglars stole from the home of an employee of the Department of Veterans Affairs a laptop and hard drive that contained the birth dates and Social Security numbers of 26.5 million veterans and active-duty military personnel.

Those incidents and others like them have forced managers to become more aware of the issue. More than half of survey respondents say ensuring the privacy of their companies' data is a business priority this year.

TANGLED UP IN RULES

chart: Tangled Up In Rules
Between complying with Sarbanes-Oxley and other regulations and fighting the specter of data theft, managers have their hands full--or perhaps tied. More than half of companies report pressure to keep cutting costs while retaining their best staffers. That alone makes for headaches. Factor in the need to respond to widely reported data-loss cases by tightening policies, building systems for regulatory compliance, and improving the accuracy of accounting systems, and IT departments this year could find themselves tangled in a thicket of rules.