CIOs will turn to business intelligence (BI) - the practice of companies tapping into internal and external data and extracting useful insights - to deliver tough business targets against flat IT budgets in 2012.
IT leaders expect to have to wring every penny from static budgets in 2012 if they are to deliver on their goals of increasing operational efficiencies and company returns, and attracting new customers, 2,335 CIOs from across the globe told Gartner's worldwide CIO survey.
Despite the pressure to deliver that CIOs will face this year, globally IT budgets will increase by an average of just 0.5 per cent from 2010. The average enterprise IT budget will be $137m, and will shrink by 1.8 per cent in the UK.
To deliver on the boardroom's expectation that CIOs use technology to "amplify" what the business can achieve, IT leaders said their number one focus will be analytics and business intelligence.
Companies are increasingly looking at BI and analytics tech to give them a competitive edge, to analyse the markets they operate in for new opportunities or their internal operations for potential efficiencies. Decreasing storage costs and increased processing power mean that businesses are now looking at analysing stores of data that in the past would previously have been considered too large - with the help of new "big data" analysis tools such as Hadoop and SAP's in-memory database technology Hana.
Number two and three on the CIO priority list for 2012 are mobile technologies and implementing cloud computing, namely software-as-a-service, platform-as-a-service and infrastructure-as-a-service.
Providing quality mobile apps for customers and employees will be a particular priority, the survey found, with the majority of CIOs saying their business has a mobility strategy that calls for them to become a "market leader" in their industry.
"Technology's role in the organisation is increasing," said Mark McDonald, group VP for Gartner executive programs, in a statement.
IT leaders will need to focus on technologies that add value to the business or streamline its operation if they want to avoid getting hauled to the boardroom, he said.
"Present economic conditions may tempt CIOs to force IT back into cost-cutting mode, but senior executives expect technology - and this includes IT - to address the tough challenges by amplifying enterprise strategies and operations.
"CIOs concentrating on IT as a force of operational automation, integration and control are losing ground to executives who see technology as a business amplifier and source of innovation. Effective leaders use technology, which includes IT, to strengthen the customer experience and eliminate costly internal distortions."
The top ten business priorities for CIOs in 2012 are:
- 1. Increasing enterprise growth
- 2. Attracting and retraining new customers
- 3. Reducing enterprise costs
- 4. Creating new products and services
- 5. Delivering operational results
- 6. Improving efficiency
- 7. Improving profitability
- 8. Attracting and retaining the workforce
- 9. Improving marketing and sales effectiveness
- 10. Expanding into new markets and geographies
The top ten technologies for CIOs in 2012 are:
- 1. Analytics and business intelligence
- 2. Mobile technologies
- 3. Cloud computing
- 4. Collaboration technologies (workflow)
- 5. Legacy modernisation
- 6. IT management
- 7. CRM
- 8. ERP
- 9. Security
- 10. Virtualisation
Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic. He writes about the technology that IT decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.