A majority of technology CFOs in the U.S. have increased their spending on cybersecurity in the last year, according to BDO USA’s annual survey of 100 CFOs.

Of those 67 percent that upped their spending, 90 percent implemented new software security tools, 72 percent created a formal response plan for security breaches, 48 percent used an external security consultant and 30 percent hired a chief security officer.

Another noted concern of the surveyed CFOs was protecting intellectual property. A little less than half (47 percent) said foreign IP infringements have had the greatest impact on their IP security, followed by changes in patent law at 24 percent and patent trolls at 20 percent.

"The threat assessments of likely cyberthreats from unknown entities is causing the tech industry to be on high alert," stated Aftab Jamil, partner and leader of the technology and life sciences practice at BDO USA. "In addition to navigating everyday business challenges—both domestically and internationally, managing operations and maintaining compliance with regulatory requirements, U.S. companies will also need to implement or enhance their data privacy initiatives to mitigate any risks or vulnerabilities to their IT infrastructures, particularly with cyber capabilities evolving at rapid speed." 

As far as tech industry growth is concerned, 20 percent of CFOs expect international expansion to be the key driver in 2015 (up from 8 percent last year), while 38 percent said it will be consumer demand for innovative personal technology, and 25 percent said economic rebound in the U.S.

Competition was cited as the top business challenge in 2015 by 41 percent of CFOs, with many of those respondents enhancing their research and development efforts to maintain an edge. Of the 20 percent of CFOs who offshore or outsource services, 74 percent are currently outsourcing or offshoring their R&D services, up from 54 percent last year. Internally, 29 percent of companies plan to invest the most in their R&D departments, with new hires up from 21 percent in 2014.

These companies also plan to increase their overall workforce, for the fifth consecutive year, with 96 percent of CFOs expecting the number of employees to grow or remain the same in 2015 (up slightly from 91 percent last year). Most respondents, at 49 percent, said sales and marketing will continue to be the key area to add talent, though 27 percent said the ability to attract and retain qualified labor is their largest business challenge in 2015. Also, 23 percent of CFOs identified this lack of skilled labor as the biggest barrier to overall industry growth.

The survey also found that 57 percent of the surveyed tech finance chiefs have not familiarized themselves with the new revenue recognition standards that take effect in 2017. Of those that are familiar, 52 percent are still analyzing the impact, 20 percent are ready to implement the new standard and 18 percent said they are looking for guidance on various implementation issues. Meanwhile, 86 percent are most likely to implement the new rules under the prospective approach and apply the new revenue standard to transactions initiated after the implantation date instead of restating prior period financial results.

The 2015 BDO Technology Outlook Survey is a national telephone survey conducted by independent market research consulting firm Market Measurement, speaking to 100 chief financial officers at leading technology companies in the U.S.

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