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ISG recently completed our 2023 Buyer Behavior Study on Network Modernization. Earlier studies from the ISG Buyer Behavior Program have indicated that the network is critical to technology modernization. While the network is under pressure from enterprise cost optimization programs, it is also a critical component of cloud migrations and application modernization. The pandemic and the subsequent rapid adoption of work-from-home models put the network under even more strain.
Surprisingly, the Buyer Behavior Study found that, despite the technology modernization and cost-saving initiatives underway, the top priority for enterprises heading into 2024 is network security. This aligns almost perfectly with our cybersecurity study from earlier this year, which put network as the number one priority for cybersecurity and risk management.
A deeper dive into data from the Buyer Behavior Study on Network Modernization shows that the alignment is strong not because of what decisions are being made but who is making them. While the CIO and VPs of IT Infrastructure are still heavily involved in setting network strategy and evaluating technology solutions, the study found that no role has a greater impact on network decision-making than the CISO (see Data Watch). In short, network has become, first and foremost, a cybersecurity domain.
This is critical because it means that security functions have become integrated into core technology and transformation decisions rather than being an additional layer of due diligence completed after the evaluation of feature/function capabilities.
Given how tightly coupled network capabilities are to new application architectures and hybrid cloud models, we see this as a positive sign. Involving the CISO early in the process likely results in faster decision cycles and closer alignment between business, technology and security objectives. Of course, it remains to be seen if closer alignment will be enough to improve actual cybersecurity outcomes. Our Buyer Behavior Study on Cybersecurity showed that 95% of organizations had at least one cybersecurity incident in the last year.