After working to link their systems more closely with those of their business partners, IBM customers now say they have heightened concerns about protecting sensitive data and resources from their partners.
Security surfaced as this year's major issue confronting members of Share, a large US-based IBM user group, according to a soon-to-be released survey. The volunteer group, established in 1955, issues an annual survey to its roughly 2,000 members, who represent large companies and education institutions. Share then turns over the results to IBM to assist the company's product plans.
What's interesting is that security catapulted from the fifth major concern in 2000 to the top concern this year, replacing last year's major issue: Internet presence. E-commerce-related issues dropped to second in the 2001 survey.
"Someone might view this [year's survey] as a dramatic change of results, but it reflects what's going in general" with businesses, says Pam Taylor, Share's directory of industry relations. "E-commerce is opening up businesses electronically and there are a lot of issues businesses have to face, such as how to deploy their own sensitive data while protecting it and exchanging it with customers, suppliers and vendors."
Share's Taylor says this year's findings point out that application development and deployment are "high on the minds" of IS and network executives. IBM customers are struggling with whether to build or buy their applications, as well as outsourcing them. "[Technology] has become a business decision - why might they buy and deploy applications internally," she says.
Other concerns confronting Big Blue customers include training and retention; shortage of IT professionals; complying with regulatory privacy requirements; and managing the growth of software maintenance and infrastructure costs.