Asia's CIOs to pave the way forward

Working closely with their CEOs, they are in strong positions to help their companies overcome current economic challenges, says Gartner.

CIOs in the Asia-Pacific region are in a strong position to help their organizations meet current challenges posed by the economic downturn, a new Gartner report revealed.

John Roberts, research vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, said this is because the relatively smaller size of companies in the region enables their CIOs to work more closely with their CEOs, compared with western counterparts.

According to the Gartner 2009 EXP (Executive Programs) Survey of Asian CIOs, 54 percent of technology heads in Asia report directly to the CEO, compared to 38 percent worldwide.

Furthermore, the report released Thursday, found 75 percent of Asian CIOs have responsibilities outside of traditional IT, with the most common additional responsibility related to business process improvement.

CIOs in Asia plan to allocate 24 percent of their budgets to growing the business and 20 percent to improving the process efficiencies of their businesses.

Mark McDonald, group vice president and head of research for Gartner EXP, said: "Asia's markets continually outpace the rest of world by doing things differently."

Asia moving up the value chain
McDonald noted that in the past, overseas companies looked to Asia as a labor source but now view it as a source for new technologies.

"The perception that Asia lacks technology is now obliterated. Some of the most advanced supply chain work is now done in this region."

The two analysts spoke to the media at the sidelines of the Gartner Asia CIO Summit held in Singapore this week.

According to the survey, despite a challenging economic environment, the region's CIOs still expect their IT budgets to grow at an average 5.32 percent in 2009, compared to flat budget growth of 0.16 percent reported by CIOs globally.

In Asia, one-third of CIOs reported no change in their budget from 2008, while 13 percent reported a cut in IT budgets.

The worldwide survey of 1,527 CIOs was conducted by Gartner EXP from Sep. 15 to Dec. 15, 2008. It included 71 CIOs from Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and the Philippines.