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Businesses focused on ensuring data is kept secure and resilient as they gear up for growth

A new survey commissioned by UK IT managed services provider, Redcentric, has identified ‘enhanced security’ as the top future driver of IT investment among UK professional services firms. 36% of respondents to the poll, which analysed the views and opinions of more than 200 senior decision-makers working in the accountancy, legal and insurance sectors, saw it as one of their main drivers. At the same time, security and resilience of data was identified as the main IT challenge facing these businesses, with 18% in total referencing it.

“Professional services firms are dealing with highly sensitive data all the time,” says Jonathan Birch, Product Manager for Data Cloud Services at Redcentric, “Our survey indicates that keeping it secure is high, if not top, of their priority list. That’s where businesses need to strive to deliver a holistic approach to network security and offer complete solutions that protect against threats and minimise the risk of breaches.”

This focus on security comes in an environment where professional services firms are gearing up for growth and IT expansion. And that is particularly true of the largest businesses. An encouraging 64% of organisations with more than 500 employees and 73% in the 250-500 employee category said that their business was planning for growth over the next 12 months.

In line with this focus, the survey identifies the top business challenge for professional services firms today as ‘establishing new revenue streams’. It was referenced as a main challenge by 42% of the sample and was even the top business challenge among the largest firms (with more than 500 employees), where it was cited by 36%.

“These findings are indicative of a sector where firms are keen to diversify and establish new channels to market that drive further business growth,” adds Birch. “And they’re in line with a survey from the beginning of this year by the Hinge Research Institute which revealed that the biggest business challenge facing professional services firms was attracting and developing new business.”

“There is an increasingly positive outlook among large professional services firms in particular, about how the improving economic situation is impacting on both organic business development, and merger and acquisition activity,” says Simon Michie, CTO at Redcentric. “Our customers in this sector are increasingly looking to expand their IT networks and systems infrastructure, not least to support the growing global focus of their own clients. That, in turn, is leading to a greater call for more flexible and scalable cloud-based networks.”

But as they mull over switching to cloud computing, it’s once again the perceived threat to the security of their data that gives professional services firms pause for thought. Indeed these businesses are far more worried about the loss of data than any other perceived risk of the move to the Cloud. 74% of the overall sample were concerned or extremely concerned about the theft of data/information and 70% about the loss of data.

“These are serious and urgent concerns,” continues Michie “Professional services firms can help put their mind at rest and free up their own IT staff to concentrate on more strategic tasks by working with a managed service provider to maintain IT security . As they move further into the Cloud, with the numbers of attacks on endpoints, mobile devices and authentication as a way to access corporate networks increasing, developing this kind of trusted IT solutions partnership will become ever more urgent.”