Over half of financial organisations (55 per cent) have prioritised cybersecurity above all else for the coming year, according to new research from IT infrastructure provider Softcat.
Softcat has released its annual Business Tech Priorities Report, exploring the top tech investments the financial sector is prioritising in the year ahead. The findings form part of a report based on the views of more than 4,000 customers from 2,900 organisations in the UK and Ireland, across 27 industries in both the public and private sectors.
The annual report revealed that, for the second year in a row, the financial sector is prioritising cybersecurity above all technology areas.
As consumers become more reliant and comfortable with digital banking, digitalisation is having a significant impact on the financial sector – a phenomenon highlighted by an increasing number of bank branches closing across the UK.
Digital capabilities can safeguard data – but time and time again, sophisticated hackers have proved able to take advantage of cyber security weaknesses.
In fact, the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) revealed that the largest percentage increase in cyber incidents was in the finance, insurance and credit sectors, showing an increase of 266 per cent in 2023. The fundamental importance of increased investment into cyber security with the likes of zero-trust security and AI threat hunting is apparent.
Devices and end-user computing emerged as the second most important investment priority for the finance sector, with over a third (36 per cent) of respondents planning to invest in this area in 2024. Secure devices and appropriate technology not only prevent cyber breaches but also boost workforce productivity and increase job satisfaction, helping retain valuable staff.
Investment in this area is especially important for a sector which reportedly has the fourth-highest average turnover rate of all sectors in the UK (28.2 per cent) and with associated high costs
Data and sustainability join the priority charts
Meanwhile, with continued higher demand for hybrid and remote working, investment in collaboration and communication technology supports and improves efficiency and productivity regardless of location. Rising generative AI will feed into this, enhancing workforce capabilities through productivity apps, but only if digital workspaces are updated and AI-ready.
Softcat also reveals that data emerged as the third most prevalent financial investment priority for 2024 (31 per cent). Investment in appropriate and updated technologies and devices fosters efficient data management, including data strategy, governance, analytics and security.
Investing in a data backbone strategy should help to identify and mitigate risks, troubleshoot problems quickly and allow for better managerial decision-making.
Finally, with e-waste reportedly the fastest-growing solid waste stream in the world, the tech industry at large is aware of the impact it has on the environment. With this in mind, the financial sector is prioritising tech sustainability in 2024, with 64 per cent of respondents citing it as a key initiative for the year ahead.
Managing ‘risks associated with emerging technology’
Richard Wyn Griffith, chief commercial officer at Softcat, said: “As we continue to navigate the ever-changing landscape of technology, it is essential that we remain vigilant and adaptable.
“The past year has seen global unrest, but it has also presented us with countless technological opportunities for growth and innovation. By taking a measured and strategic approach, we can effectively manage the risks associated with emerging technology, while also seizing the opportunities that it presents. We must remain proactive in our efforts to safeguard against cyber threats, integrate AI into our operations, and build digital resilience.
“Only by embracing change and remaining steadfast in our commitment to progress can we hope to thrive in this new age of digital transformation. I look forward to continuing to work with our customers towards a brighter future!”