APAC CIOs score 'poor' in managing assets

Region's IT chiefs rate themselves well in executing IT and governance but give low marks on competence in technology and asset management, new survey reveals.

SINGAPORE--CIOs in the region perceive themselves equipped with technical know-how and IT governance capabilities, but rate themselves as falling short when it comes to portfolio management competence to manage business technology and assets, according to a new survey.

Patrick Chan, chief technology advisor of emerging technologies at IDC Asia-Pacific, told ZDNet Asia in an interview Tuesday the findings indicated that IT chiefs were fairly confident of their "bread and butter" skills but did not fully understand the "enterprise DNA" of their organizations and thus performed "poorly". Chan was speaking on the sidelines of the Singapore leg of the IDC CIO Summit 2009.

As a result, budget overruns do occur, especially in the public sector, said Chan. There are also CIOs who "simply do not know" the assets within their organizations, and struggle with cloud computing as the infrastructure is no longer on-premise.

"Not only do [CIOs] have to be an evangelist, [they also] have to manage assets well," he noted of the current demands of technology heads.

According to Chan, organizations that want to be able to leapfrog forward must ensure "right from the start" that their CIOs or IT departments have control over their assets.

To correct this, CIOs are on the hunt for talent, he added. Now is a good time to build up resources with hybrid business skills, the analyst said.

Citing data and analysis from the ongoing IDC Asia-Pacific Dynamic IT Benchmark 2009, Chan said there was "good sustenance" in IT budgets across the region, particularly in the public sector. At the same time, however, many CIOs are rethinking their technology budgets and moving away from just keeping the lights on, he noted.

Around 60 percent of CIO respondents indicated their current IT budget focus was on increasing business profitability and performance through IT, while 26.4 percent said infrastructure modernization and legacy transformation were most critical. Just 13.5 percent said their focus was on IT maintenance.

The transition from focusing on IT maintenance to using IT to improve profitability and performance in the past translated into consolidation and optimization, but downsizing can be effective only to a certain extent, explained Chan. A more contemporary IT model includes CIOs contemplating various sourcing models as well as co-evolving with vendors.

Moving forward, Asia-Pacific CIOs would need to focus on the user experience for applications, and leverage emerging technologies such as unified communications and mashups to help improve productivity. India-based Reliance Communications, said Chan, was an organization that incorporated these elements into its internal portal for greater collaboration among employees.

According to IDC, a significant proportion of tech chiefs in Singapore are already stepping up the use of innovative tools, such as building new applications based on Web 2.0 technologies and revamping social networking and collaboration services for employees.

IDC on Tuesday also announced the winners of its IDC Enterprise Innovation Award 2009. The 10 organizations across the Asia-Pacific region are:

•  Altium, Australia--use of cloud computing
•  Bharti Airtel, India--service-oriented architecture (SOA) approach
•  CLP, Hong Kong--data and records governance strategy
•  Haier, China--platform lifecycle management strategy
•  Land Transport Authority, Singapore--geographical information system as SOA strategy
•  Ministry of Education, Singapore--Web 2.0 for portal advising students of career choices
•  MTR Corporation, Hong Kong--asset management software
•  New Zealand SuperComputing Center--cloud computing and resource provisioning
•  Reliance Communications, India--use of Web 2.0 and social networking
•  Sun Life Financial, Hong Kong--use of cloud computing