IT management is a difficult job. The virtually endless list of challenges that CIOs face includes new technologies, global economic uncertainty and demands from end-users. For these IT heads, combining traditional management skills with technology is a necessity.
In the ZDNet Asia IT Priorities 2008/09 survey, IT managers in the Asia-Pacific region rated business management issues as their highest priorities. Technology is important, but it is how that technology is implemented in a business environment that remains their paramount concern.
The survey, conducted online in August 2008 on 722 IT decision makers and influencers across the region, found that user organizations had broadly similar concerns--no matter what country they were in, their industry, or how big they were.
Respondents were asked how much money their companies were spending on IT, their future IT priorities, and their open source and Web 2.0 adoption strategies. They were also asked about their commitment to environmentally friendly IT practices, and the extent to which global economic circumstances were affecting their IT budgets.
Many respondents mentioned priorities that had to do with business, rather than IT. These included increasing profitability, reducing costs, improving quality and efficiency, among others.
For the third year in a row, management issues--IT management, business management, and workplace and staffing issues--generally ranked higher than technology concerns.
IT management issues, which included improving response times, resilience, stability, consolidation and performance, also rated very highly, as did business applications.
Management issues are strongest in Indonesia, and larger organizations. They are least important in China.
Overall, software concerns ranked higher than hardware, networking and security issues. Of specific hardware priorities, peripherals, components and storage ranked highest. Networking issues are strongest among infocomm technology (ICT) service providers, but weakest among software developers. Security issues are about as important across all sizes of organization.
Nearly half of organizations deploy open source Internet applications, and many use open source in other areas. Less than one quarter do not use any open source application or technology.
Most organizations have adopted or plan to adopt Web 2.0 technologies. Among these, the most common are blogs, social networking and Wikis. Only a little over one-third of organizations have not adopted, or have no plans to adopt, Web 2.0 technologies.
More than half of respondent organizations have implemented power-saving policies such as directing staff to turn off computers before leaving work. Other environmentally friendly practices are also popular, with only one organization in eight not implementing any.
More than half of those polled regard protecting the network from insider threat as one of their major security priorities.
Global economic uncertainty has not as yet had a major impact on IT budgets, though nearly half of respondents said that their IT budgets were under review. And a higher number said that budgets had been reduced or will be reduced, compared to the number of respondents saying they were increasing. More than one quarter saw no change.
The more things change, the more they remain the same. IT priorities vary a little over time, and between countries and organizations, but the underlying issues do not significantly alter. IT exists to serve the needs of the business, and ultimately everything else is secondary.
Graeme Philipson is an independent IT writer and analyst. He was commissioned by ZDNet Asia to compile and analyze the results of ZDNet Asia's IT Priorities 2008/09 Survey.