Organisations have increased IT budgets in recognition of the role technology plays in driving business growth, according to the preliminary results of a global CIO survey conducted by analyst group Gartner.
According to Gartner, supporting business growth has cemented itself as a CIO's number one priority, and for once they have the funds to do it. IT budgets globally are on the increase, and spending growth in Australia is outstripping the rest of the world.
The Gartner CIO Agenda results -- to date -- found that IT budgets increased by approximately 2.8 percent across all companies surveyed globally last year, while the number was slightly higher in Australia, at 3.3 percent. However, some of the more successful companies had an average budget increase in excess of 4.5 percent.
Speaking at Gartner's annual Symposium event in Sydney this week, the company's group vice president and head of research executive programs, Mark McDonald, said that "improving business processes" retained its place as the number one priority for CIOs for 2007, a position it first achieved in 2006. This had been a significant change from 2005, when it was ranked as the 18th priority.
"This clearly indicates a significant change, and a persistent change, in what executives expect from IT," McDonald said, adding there was also a correlating rise in the measurement of IT performance based on business outcomes.
"Once they get past the baseline expectations of doing the IT job well, then we see CIOs and business executives expecting to look at business impact."
The Gartner survey also found a direct correlation between the effectiveness of a company's IT operation and the company's effectiveness overall. McDonald defined effective IT operations as being able to deal with issues promptly and professionally, possessing the ability to develop business solutions rather than just technical outcomes, and having appropriate level of funding.
CIOs who demonstrated the highest levels of performance were twice as likely to be working for companies that were pursuing high growth strategies, McDonald said. Factors that separated highly effective IT organisations from the rest were their level of funding and the business skills of their IT people.
These companies also tended to innovate by taking existing technologies and making them work together in specific ways for their business, he said.
"They are investing in technologies that don't provide packaged solutions, but build and augment a platform for them to be different," McDonald said. "So we see investment in collaboration technologies, business intelligence, mobile workforce applications, and still a significant investment in security and data protection technologies."
Gartner's CIO Agenda is expected to survey more than 1,400 CIOs globally this year.