News | TechnologyIT investment report shows significant spend increase in 2014This article was originally published onBy Nick Vivion | February 3, 2014 North American IT professionals have budgeted an average of $302,000 for IT-related expenses in 2014, a new study from Spiceworks has found. The study, available in full here, first determined the projected growth rate of the various companies, as seen from IT's perspective. The collective mindset is that 2014 will be a year of growth, across the board: With the majority of respondents seeing an increase in revenue, and a near-majority projecting rises in IT budgets and staffing, 2014 looks to be a good year for IT investment across North American industries.The survey was distributed to 450 IT professionals from the survey author's own ecosystem, 77% of which spend the IT budget and work across industries at companies of the following sizes:The 2014 budget breaks down accordingly:44% on hardware projects, such as updating servers to take advantage of recent server virtualization and purchasing new post-XP computers.31% on software projects, especially dealing with Windows XP's demise this year.14% on hosted or cloud-based services.11% on managed services projects.Stats on hardwareThe most-reported hardware purchases planned this year, in order of popularity, are Desktops, Networking (routers, etc), Laptops, Servers, and finally Printers.As far as percentages of budgets, this is how that shakes out:A near majority of this budget is earmarked for new purchases, especially for networking and servers.Stats on softwareSoftware is looking to be a big IT expense in 2014, as Windows XP has reached the end of its planned support window. This means that many computers will no longer have their operating systems supported by Microsoft - a huge potential security vulnerability that will force many to switch their OS company-wide.This fact is seen in the results related to planned software purchases this year: OS is at the top, with 60% planning to purchase. 60% of respondents are also planning to snag new productivity software, followed closely by virtualization, security and database softwares.Productivity software is seeing a huge boost in prioritization this year, slightly edging out OS purchases as the top category for software spend - 22% of respondents' budgets will be going to productivity software, compared with 21% towards operating systems. This highlights the continued importance of squeezing the maximum amount of productivity from workforces, investing in technology that increases output per worker without necessarily increasing the number of workers.Surprisingly, given the growing intensity and visibility of data security issues, such as the recent Target incident, only 13% of surveyed IT budgets are allocated for security - second only to the 10% for virtualization software.Nonetheless, the majority of these purchases are geared towards upgrades or maintenance of existing software.Perhaps security is actually becoming more top-of-mind, as 71% of those purchases are for new software. And much of the productivity software investments are ongoing, showing satisfaction with the performance of current products.Stats on cloud-based servicesThe cloud is all the rage - at least given the intensity of coverage surrounding these services. This report shows that corporate IT departments are still reluctant to drop everything into the cloud - which is not surprising coming alongside continued revelations of data mining by governments.Even so, the 14% of IT budgets dedicated to the cloud will be spent accordingly, with a chunk going to potentially vulnerable online backup/recovery: The nature of this spend is that of a recurring nature - most of these services are subscription-based, and are not made on an upfront licensing basis. For newly-added services, however, the pros plan on purchasing more productivity solutions and online backup/recovery.Stats on managed servicesManaged services - or those which the IT department more directly manages, versus the off-premise nature of hosted/cloud services - are increasingly dedicated to storage, backup and archiving. Further support from IT service providers follows closely, with hosting, connectivity and consulting rounding out the mix.The full report can be downloaded here.NB: Server image courtesy Shutterstock.