Published 23. Nov. 2020

IT Benchmark 2021: Where Do You Stand Among the CIOs?

COVID-19 threw a monkey wrench into business plans the world over, and CIOs are busy rearranging tech priorities to combat organizational implications. Find out where you stand among your peers in IT spending benchmarks.
Cyber Security
IT Management

The outbreak, evolving workscape, a volatile market, changing customer demands –  Chief Information Officers (CIOs) have their hands full in strategizing IT projects while maximizing the value of technology investments.

With the modern CIO role entailing more strategic decision-making, you need to identify key technologies that not only help advance the organization’s digital transformation, but that also increase its business value and competitive edge.

So how effective is your IT strategy compared to other organizations in your industry? Are there areas where your peers are ahead of you? Let’s dive into the IT benchmark data for the coming year.

Data Science Takes The Lead

In 2019, Management Events’ Executive Trend Survey found that 88% of CIOs across Europe were focusing on cyber security adoption for the coming years, followed by cloud and big data.

However, the pandemic has shuffled tech priorities with the latest survey discovering that data science and analytics have taken precedence over cyber security for 2021.

Although the findings point towards a higher importance of data science, the surveyed CIOs seem to be almost equally torn between data, cyber security and cloud investments. The close gaps indicate that these three technologies are vital parts of CIOs’ business continuity and recovery strategies.

The Rise Of Data

Based on our survey and interviews with IT decision makers, their core data focuses are on analytics strategy, data management and big data analytics, with the majority looking for data science and analytics to be scaling within their organization in 3 years.

Almost 82% of the surveyed leaders said they are updating data analytics models to accommodate changing market behavior. Furthermore, 73% agreed that they’re heavily investing in data-driven business models for post-COVID-19 survival.

Compared to the 2020 annual budget of between €100,000 and €250,000, the budget allocated by the CIOs for 2021 data analytics spending in their organization is higher, with the majority looking to spend in the €500,000 range.

As for data tech adoption, the majority of CIOs are currently building capabilities by hiring new talents with the required skills. However, in the future, they are looking to change their adoption strategy by investing in other companies to acquire the skills.

Diving deeper into the benchmark data, most of the IT leaders focusing on data analytics are from the retail and consumer industry, followed by the banking and financial services industry. Incidentally, aside from data analytics, the retail CIOs are also looking into e-commerce implementations.

Join the discussion on the latest IT trends with leading CIOs, CTOs and more at 600Minutes Executive IT  in Sweden, Austria, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, and Norway.

Cyber Security Is Still A Priority

With cybercrimes on the rise, businesses around the world are working hard to prevent data breaches and system disruptions. At the same time, companies are in the midst of strengthening their security framework, from securing endpoints to stronger online protection.

So what are the cyber security benchmark and CIO cyber security focus areas for 2021?

In terms of security investments, data security and privacy is one of the core focal points among European CIOs along with a more robust cyber security strategy and emphasis on cloud security.

As COVID-19 saw increasing security breaches, it’s not a surprise that employee awareness training on cyber security is a top priority for 95% of IT leaders. Meanwhile,  89% of the IT C-executives are expecting a rise in predictive and behavioral detection to prevent cyber attacks.

Similar to data science, cyber security’s annual budget was also ranging between €100,000 and €250,000 for 2020, but has increased to €500,000 for 2021, according to the IT leaders in our survey.

Currently, 58% of the decision makers are partnering with vendors and consultancies for their cyber security solutions, but in the future, most of them are looking at partnering with organizations in other industries to create security ecosystems.

Incidentally, IT leaders from the manufacturing industry make up the majority of surveyed CIOs looking to invest in cyber security.

Cloud Increase On The Horizon


On cloud benchmark data, our survey found that cloud is the third topmost tech priority for 2021 with the majority interested in cloud migration coming from the banking and financial services industry.

88% of the cloud-focused respondents are currently looking to migrate their workload to the cloud for increased business efficiency, and the survey also discovered that cloud infrastructure and cloud platforms are primary aspects of the CIO cloud strategy.

Unlike the other aforementioned technologies, cloud migration seems to have different budget ranges. The CIO respondents are divided between spending less than €500,000 and between €500,000 and €1 million in the coming year, when in 2020, the annual budget for cloud was mostly less than €50,000 and between €100,000 and €250,000.

Currently, their cloud adoption approach is partnering with external vendors and training their employees, but 68% of the IT leaders are hoping to acquire the necessary cloud capabilities by investing in other companies in the near future.

How Should You Respond?

Before undertaking a benchmarking opportunity, there is much to consider:

  • Are you looking at industry benchmark data or more towards IT budget benchmarks?
  • What performance or process gaps are you seeking to enhance?
  • Do you have a clear objective for the tech implementation?

While the trends are pointing mainly towards data analytics, investing in this solution must be in line with your organizational and industry goals. As Datafloq puts it, companies need to “dig down to understand if [data analytics] is worth it”, and if it’ll bring them the return of investment (ROI) that they are looking for.

Data analytics use case of a CIO interviewee from a Dutch online travel agency:

  • What’s the objective of analyzing the data? To improve booking experience and behavior recognition
  • What data are they looking at? Online customer behavior
  • What are they using to process the data? Big data analytics and predictive analytics

The same goes for all innovations that are the focus of CIOs. Although market trends are pointing to a certain technology, it doesn’t mean that everyone must jump on the bandwagon.

Data benchmark is just one indicator of your organization’s performance that will potentially inform you on which areas you need to improve, but identifying the right elements to benchmark is the key. It’s vital to choose elements and technologies that will bring the most positive impact to your organization’s growth and revenue.

Stay ahead of the IT game by getting the latest trends, insights and solutions at our popular 600Minutes Executive IT events in Sweden, Austria, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, and Norway.