Expanding the reach of IT security and protecting the organisation from cyber-security threats has become the primary challenge for CIOs and will remain so in 2014 a study of CIOs and peers by CSC has found. CIO UK discussed the findings of the CSC CIO Barometer report for 2013 with CIOs from the public sector, manufacturing, legal, banking, construction and pharmaceutical last week, all of whom had taken part in the survey, it was clear that security is rising up the CIO agenda.

Although all the CIOs we spoke to agreed the number and complexity of threats is rising, the CIO Barometer report reveals that it is the increased use of cloud computing, mobility and social media that is also increasing the need for strong security, with 78 per cent of the research respondents placing expanding security and cyber-security as their highest priority. Dispite its top billing security was only two per cent above modernising the application estate in organisation, three per cent above improving the operational and financial planning of IT and just five per cent above the need to improve relationships with the users.

Security was the third most costly item on CIO's budgets in 2013, below storage and IT production costs remaining the highest expenditure, suggesting legacy costs hampering CIO's agility and also driving the desire for cloud and the subsequent need for greater security. The Barometer report found that 71 per cent of CIOs see security as the most significant development in their departments, just above cloud computing for 69 per cent of respondents.

These trends will lead to the IT department investing its time and efforts into increased connectivity, the authors of the CIO Barometer report claim as CIOs and their organisations look to use increasing levels of cloud computing and third party services, they say. This in turn will lead to the IT department becoming a "collaborative IT executive team of CIOs, CTOs and chief digital officers," the report says.

"Mobility, cloud computing, customer intelligence, social media and the greater integration of information systems all require levels of collaboration between IT and other departments that greatly exceed those of the past," the report states.

The CIO Barometer report finds that relationships between the CIO and the rest of the organisation improved and the CIO role gaining in strategic importance.

"Modern CIOs will take a more active role in partnering with the business to protect the data, orchestrate multiple clouds, manage costs and create governance and policies to encourage and manage these trends," the report says of the strategic and security focused role the CIO will take.

CSC commissioned TNS Sofres to carry out the survey of organisations with over 500 employees between May and July of 2013 with 681 CIOs, IT Directors and IT Managers being surveyed in 18 countries, including the UK, USA, major European economies like Denmark, Germany, France and Italy and Asian nations like India, Singapore and China.

The report is available at: http://www.csc.com/cio_barometer?utm_campaign=G-OTR-CS-OT-CIOBarometerUmbrellaCampaigneMailCadenceGlobal