Improving business processes is the top CIO business expectation for 2009, according the recently-released Gartner 2009 CIO Agenda survey.
Next on the list was reducing enterprise costs followed by improving enterprise workforce effectiveness. Attracting and retaining new customers dipped from second position in 2008 to fourth, while creating new products or services (innovation) slipped from third in 2008 to sixth.
Innovation is, however, expected to climb the ladder to top spot by 2012, resulting in a warning from Gartner to companies not to shed staff or divisions they may not need now, but might call upon in the near future to drive innovation and penetrate new markets.
Respondents indicated the top strategy for CIOs in 2009 is linking business and IT strategies and plans, followed by reducing the cost of IT (a huge leap up from 10th in 2008), and delivering projects that enable business growth. Attracting, developing and retaining IT personnel suffered the biggest drop, falling five places from third in 2008 to eighth.
In 2009, the top technologies for CIOs remain largely unchanged, with business intelligence [BI] in top spot (unchanged in this position since 2006), followed by enterprise applications such as CRM or ERP, and servers and storage technologies.
“There are two answers [for why BI is number one], a good one and a lesser one. The good one is this year enterprises are focusing very much on cost and internal performance, and BI is key to that,” Gartner vice president and research director, Andy Rowsell-Jones, said.
“Then, of course, there is the other reason – the wreckage of failed BI projects. Year-on-year we build data marts, statistical tools etc. But the point is none of them are ever used for anything, so we have another go. Part of the problem with BI is it stays at number one because we think it’s good but no one else seems to be using it.”
Rowsell-Jones cited technologies like virtualisation, cloud computing and software-as-a-service (SaaS) as enablers of cost reduction, but cautioned against an automatic assumption that they will lower IT costs.
“The problem is cloud computing and SaaS for most enterprises is not going to happen in 2009. We’re too concerned about things like availability, security, we’re too concerned about SaaS because it doesn’t really do what we want to… nevertheless there may be opportunities to harness these new technologies,” he said.
According to Rowsell-Jones the most crucial issue for CIOs, apart from not forgetting that things will get better, is the ability to lead their company through 2009.
“Leadership is important - it’s cost-free, and it’s the killer application for 2009. You have an awful lot of scared people on you staff who are reading the press, so if you’re not setting a clear expectation that they need to do certain things to harness costs and focus on business outcomes, you will have a whole bunch of scared people who do nothing for you.”
The survey canvassed 1500 CIOs worldwide from September 15, 2008 to December 15, 2008. The average company size of respondents was 400, with an average IT budget of $90 million.