Singapore CIOs optimistic of an upturn

IT heads in Singapore expect market conditions to be more favorable for growth over the next six months, Frost & Sullivan survey finds.
Written by Sol E. Solomon, Contributor

SINGAPORE--CIOs in the island-state are optimistic the economic downturn is waning and market conditions will be more favorable for growth over the next six months, a new survey revealed.

In the online survey conducted by Frost & Sullivan, some 62.4 percent of respondents said they were predicting the national economy to remain unchanged in the next six months, while 30.7 percent expect to see some market conditions improve. Some 7 percent said the economy would worsen.

Over 120 Singapore CIOs were polled in the survey, which is an ongoing poll that has been running since August.

The latest results were announced Tuesday at Frost & Sullivan's TechStrategies Singapore 2009 summit, an event designed to assist CIOs, CTOs and IT directors in formulating cost optimization strategies, understanding emerging technologies and how these can be translated into business value.

Respondents were also somewhat optimistic about the IT industry's unemployment rate, where 26.8 percent of respondents were expecting to see some improvements over the next six months, while 55.4 percent expected no change in the unemployment rate. Some 17.9 percent expected unemployment to worsen.

According to the survey, 55.4 percent of CIOs said their IT spending will remain the same, while 31.7 percent indicated that their IT spend will expand. Some 12.9 percent said they were expecting their IT spending to shrink.

Craig Baty, global vice president of IT practice at Frost & Sullivan, said at the summit that given the optimism, "the pressure now for CIOs and IT departments is to be prepared for a rebound".

The analyst advised CIOs to plan for increased business growth and demands on IT.

These sentiments resounded during a panel discussion comprising CXOs and industry representatives, held at the summit.

Seow Choong Huei, founder and president of financial advisory firm Collexius Associates, said it is now time for companies to deploy the resources to be ready for opportunities when the upturn comes.

Frank Koo, first vice chairman of local trade body Singapore Infocomm Technology Federation (SITF), noted optimism among its members, too. "Lots of projects were postponed [due to the downturn] but spending on some IT projects are [now] coming back," Koo noted.

"But, we are cautious there may be a double dip," he said.

A double dip occurs when the economy emerges from a recession to enjoy a short period of growth, before slipping back into a recession.

Baty noted that CIOs preparing for an upturn must also identify, attract, develop and retain good staff, at both technical and executive levels.

Chong Yoke Sin, CEO of Integrated Health Information Systems, agreed. "The key focus is people. Do it with people in mind first," said Chong, who was part of the panel discussion.

Baty told CIOs to also reevaluate their technology adoption profile (TAP) and match it to their companies' growth plans.

In fact, the Frost & Sullivan survey found that 41.5 percent of companies in Singapore coined themselves early adopters of technology, making them better prepared for a market rebound, Baty said.

Some 28.8 percent described their companies as slow to adopt technology, while 29.7 percent said they were "average" IT adopters.

SITF's Koo advised companies to deploy new IT tools to start small and conduct pilots to assess the possibilities and limitations of new technologies.

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