NZ and Australian CIOs more upbeat than globally

Survey shows CIOs down under have different outlook, priorities

Despite the recession, most CIOs in Australia and New Zealand expect their IT budget to grow this year, according to a survey by research firm Gartner.

However, the survey was conducted at the end of last year, and an update, which Gartner is currently carrying out, shows the results were over-optimistic.

The survey, conducted at the end of last year, polled 1500 CIOs around the world, including 86 in Australia and New Zealand.

In the ANZ region, 59% of CIOs surveyed expected their budgets to increase, 22% believed they would decrease and 19% expected them to remain flat.

Noting that many CIOs are being more cautious as the updated survey is being conducted, Andy Rowsell-Jones, vice president and research director in Gartner’s CIO Research Group based in Melbourne, says “at this half-way stage, and part way through our survey update, it appears that budget expectations were optimistic.

“However, ANZ CIOs do seem to be responding more positively to the economic crisis than some of their peers in other regions,” Rowsell-Jones says.

When it comes to strategies, ANZ CIOs ranked linking IT’s plans with those of the business, and improving the quality of IT services as their top two; globally, the top strategy priority was cost reduction, which was fourth in ANZ.

Gartner also asked CIOs to rank their top-10 business and technology priorities. Globally, the number-one and two business priorities were business process improvement and cutting costs; the ANZ CIOs also identified those as their top three concerns.

However, further down the list the global and ANZ priorities diverged. For example, targeting customers and markets more efficiently was priority number four in the ANZ region, but was only eighth worldwide; and supporting regulation, reporting and compliance requirements was eighth in ANZ, but not on the list worldwide.

In the list of technology priorities, ANZ also shared the first two goals, business intelligence applications and enterprise applications; after that, results diverged with, for example, document management ranking sixth in ANZ, but tenth worldwide.

Collaboration technologies was number five on the list globally, but only tenth worldwide.

By 2012, ANZ CIOs believe the top-three business priorities will be creating new sources of competitive advantage, managing IT’s environmental impact and attracting and retaining new customers.

The survey also showed that ANZ CIOs are aspirational; at present, 36% of local CIOs report directly to the CEO of their organisation, but 56% expect that they’ll be reporting direct to the big boss by 2012.

However, many may no longer be in their current job by then: the survey also revealed that the average tenure of an ANZ CIO is 3.6 years, compared with 4.4 worldwide.

When it comes to strategies, ANZ CIOs ranked linking IT’s plans with those of the business, and improving the quality of IT services, as their top two; globally, the top strategy priority was cost reduction, which was fourth in ANZ.

The recession was cited globally as the number-one trend having the biggest impact on the CIO’s organisation this year. However, in Australia and New Zealand it was government regulation.

“The survey results reflect the fact that in Australia and New Zealand, leading organisations recognise the seriousness of economic conditions, but they are not paralysed by them,” Rowsell-Jones says.

“These CIOs have confidence in their ability to use IT to achieve results in an uncertain economy.

“Rather than simply reacting by cutting IT costs, IT can be used to reduce business costs,” he says.

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