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European CISOs Drive Increased IT Security Investment

The Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) role has gained new importance, due to increased cyber threats. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on security-related IT investment in Europe, which will continue to grow rapidly in 2021.

During the pandemic, organizations have been re-architecting their IT security perimeters to protect operations and critical data. The pandemic, and measures to curb it with remote working, have pushed the enterprise network outwards and heightened the risk for CISOs.

According to the latest worldwide market study by International Data Corporation (IDC), overall investment in IT security within Europe is projected to exceed $35.6 billion during 2021 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.8 percent between 2020 and 2024 -- now forecast to reach $46.4 billion in 2024.

IT Security Market Development

The banking sector traditionally has the highest spending on IT security due to the particularly sensitive customer data that is integral to the industry. Besides, financial service organizations are eager to optimize their IT infrastructure via digital transformation.

The COVID-19 pandemic also increased focus on remote servicing of clientele, making data protection and identity and digital trust solutions even more invaluable. Additionally, the European banking sector is leading in terms of spending on services for integration, consulting, support services, and more.

Spending on IT services in the sector is projected at 7.3 percent year-on-year growth in 2021 to reach $4.8 billion. The second-place vertical market is discrete manufacturing with 7 percent projected to reach $3.8 billion, followed by process manufacturing with $3.1 billion in spending based on 7.6 percent growth.

IT Security spending also varies according to regions. In Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), for example, the second-largest vertical is federal or central government, with discrete manufacturing in third place.

In Western Europe, conversely, banking is still the largest industry by IT security spending, followed by discrete manufacturing in second place and process manufacturing in third.

Broken down by services category, security services are projected to comprise the greatest share of IT security investment in 2021, with spending expected to accelerate further as organizations in Europe accelerate their digital transformation and migrate systems and workloads to the cloud. However, security software and hardware investments are expected to grow at a slightly lower rate.

"After the initial response to the pandemic, organizations in Europe began to plan more strategically for an increasingly digital future, where interactions between businesses, their employees, partners, and customers (or citizens) are predominantly digital rather than physical," says Mark Child, research manager at IDC.

According to the IDC assessment, this transition will require secure infrastructure and processes, and not every organization has the resources and expertise in-house. This is also driving strong growth in security services -- particularly public cloud services, managed security services, and IT security consulting.

Outlook for IT Security Investment in Europe

CEE governments invested heavily in IT security during 2020 and are expected to continue doing so through 2024, owing to the need to provide digitalized services to citizens and businesses, and to enable remote working, distance learning, or other operations in which a physical presence is not possible.

IDC analysts believe that Central and Eastern Europe are catching up to Western Europe when it comes to the maturity of IT security spending in the government sector, and the current spending levels of verticals illustrate these trends.

That said, I anticipate that the adoption of Hybrid Workforce models will motivate all CIOs to reassess their organization's secure network access requirements. Home-based workers will likely need to reach software applications within a managed data center, plus a variety of public cloud-based SaaS apps.

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