Enterprise chief information officers (CIOs) will have to address top priorities such as attracting and retaining customers without an increase in IT budgets in 2012, according to a global study of business priorities and strategies conducted by researcher Gartner Inc.
The study, conducted in the fourth quarter of 2011 and entitled "Amplifying the Enterprise: The 2012 CIO Agenda," polled 2,335 CIOs covering 37 industries in 45 countries and representing some $321 billion in IT budgets.
Results of the survey show IT budgets flat for 2012, increasing only by .5 percent on average while declining .6 percent in North America and .7 percent Europe. Organizations with IT budgets exceeding $500 million have continued to cut IT expenditures, Gartner said, balancing moderate growth among the remainder of the survey’s participants.
In addition to revealing tighter IT budgets, the study’s results also suggested that businesses are leveraging technology to alter the way they interact externally with customers rather than only to improve internal operations, the researcher said.
Gartner also said that the survey’s findings point to the increasing importance of technology in the enterprise to improve business growth. The researcher said that CIOs are beginning to view technology priorities such as business analytics, mobility, cloud computing and social media as tools to use in concert to address business issues such as customer attraction and retention.
"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,” said Mark McDonald, Gartner Executive programs group vice president and Gartner Fellow.
"Mobility, social media, information and analytics can be used to re-imagine the customer experience, as well as sales and service channels,” he said. “These technologies do more than automate or administer processes--they are the processes and the sources of value," he said.
Indeed, some 61 percent of the study’s participants said that they plan to improve their mobile capabilities in the next three years, Gartner said.
The majority have crafted a mobility strategy to become a market leader in their industry, with many combining technologies to address key business issues such as analytics plus mobility for field sales and operations, and analytics plus social for customer engagement and acquisition.
CIOs in the study consider growth as their top priority, followed by attracting and retaining customers, reducing enterprise costs, and creating products and services, according to survey data. Factors such as improving profitability, attracting and retaining the workforce, improving the effectiveness of marketing, and expansion rank lower on CIOs’ priority lists, Gartner said.
Slightly less than half of the CIOs in the survey reported that their IT budget would increase from 2011 to 2012 in terms of actual dollars spent. The average firm in the study will see a modest budget increase of between 2 and 3 percent, Gartner said.
"As business executives see the potential of technology to transform customer channels and the customer experience, their view of technology has leapfrogged conventional ideas of IT," said said Dave Aron, Gartner vice president and Fellow.