Green IT, spending dominate CIO agenda

Maximizing technology spend early in the year, and setting eco-friendly targets may just be some of the resolutions that IT heads in Asia should make in 2008.

SINGAPORE--Changing trends could propel Asian chief information officers (CIOs) to make certain decisions this year, chief among them is the planning and execution of tech budgets, and setting targets for green IT.

An economic slowdown and a "tremendous interest in green IT" are some of the key global trends impacting businesses today, Peter Sondergaard, Gartner's senior vice president for global research, said Thursday at the inaugural Gartner Asia CIO Summit held in the island-state.

Although the United States is quite clearly headed for a mild recession, Asia's IT budgets are not expected to be affected, said Sondergaard. Businesses, however, could expect "an environment of more scrutiny of budgets" over the next six to 12 months, and may want to exercise front-loading IT budgets, or putting more emphasis on spending during the first half of the year.

Asian companies in particular also need to monitor developments in China, whose growth, or the lack thereof, could have substantial impact on the region.

In the area of green IT, Sondergaard predicted that by year-end, most large enterprises will have some public statement addressing their carbon contribution.

GV goes for governance
For Roger Lim, IT manager at cinema operator Golden Village (GV), a key resolution for 2008 is to formulate governance policies, build controls and align workflow and processes for better IT governance.
Lim, whose role at the Singapore cinema operator is equivalent to that of a CIO, told ZDNet Asia in an e-mail that another area of focus would be using IT to achieve innovation.
"Crafting innovative ideas is key in our industry to entice the taste buds of our movie patrons," he said.

At present, the IT industry is seen as part of the environmental problem, instead of being part of the solution. CIOs need to take the lead to review policies and practices, as well as set basic environmental IT targets, he said.

"It's not a 'hype' issue, and it's not an issue that's going to go away," Sondergaard said.

In a release last month, global ICT research house XMG also predicted that understanding green IT is among the top management concerns of Asia-Pacific CIOs in 2008. Companies would need to anticipate and prepare for higher energy costs, and work toward supporting eco-friendly hardware and products.

Gartner's Sondergaard added that in Asia, there is a lack of government policies that Europe, for example, has. Going forward, he expects more collaboration between enterprises and governments to accelerate eco-friendly efforts.

Sondergaard also noted that CIOs are increasingly being pressured to reduce IT costs in relation to revenue. Hewlett-Packard for instance, recently announced plans to cut IT costs from 4 percent to 2 percent of its revenues, he said. Industries such as the financial services, which typically spend up to 20 percent of revenue on IT, may be compelled to review that level of spending given that other industries such as retail spend a significantly lower amount of their revenues on IT.