CIO digital strategies across Asia analysed with Gartner survey

A series of missives from analyst firm Gartner has shed light on the CIO’s digital strategy across Asia – with some interesting results.

The company has chosen three geographic areas – China, India, and south-east Asia (SEA) – and found that China is ‘preparing for a digital ecosystem surge’, India is on the road to digitalisation but with serious skills gaps, and south-east Asia CIOs are expected to get better than expected results from only moderate increases in IT spending.

The figures all come from the Gartner CIO Survey, which polled more than 2,500 respondents across 93 countries and in all major industries. With regard to China – with a naturally huge potential base on which to build – IT budgets will increase as enterprise revenues go up. According to the data provided by 75 CIOs in China, just over a quarter (28%) of the enterprise IT budget on average is spent on digitalisation, a figure which is expected to go up to 39% by 2018.

For India, with 65 CIOs contributing to the overall figures, expected average revenue growth in 2017 was at 12.6%, significantly higher than the global average of 4%. Yet with money available to spend, respondents found it difficult to invest in key areas such as business analytics; 35% of Indian CIOs said it was a primary talent concern, alongside digital business and marketing (25%) and more specific technical skills (19%).

This also rings true in China, where a significant amount of talent is attracted to the giants of the industry, such as Baidu, Alibaba – who continues to push its cloud mission – and Tencent. Digital business and digital marketing, data science and business analytics and innovation are the most cited problem areas. Yet Gartner argues Chinese CIOs are ‘well-placed’ to look towards acquiring startups to solve their skills problems. “Compared with global CIOs, more Chinese CIOs engage with, buy or invest in startup companies,” the company notes. “Such partnerships can allow enterprises to benefit from the innovation that startups excel at.”

CIOs in the south-east Asia region, meanwhile, say that their IT spending will grow 2.2% year on year in 2017 – lower than the Asia average but on par with the global average – with Gartner arguing that increased spending on digitalisation has a ‘direct correlation’ with increased revenue for the business. “Gartner recommends that SEA CIOs increase the proportion of their IT budget spent on digitalisation to at least 40%, to align with global digital leaders,” said Siddharth Deshpande, principal research analyst.

When it comes to cloud adoption, all three areas struggle when compared to the rest of Asia. The most recent report from the Asia Cloud Computing Association (ACCA) puts China at #13 out of 14 nations, only ahead of Vietnam. India was only one place further up, while the next four positions were occupied by Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia. Only Singapore, placed second – and comparatively better than the UK, USA and Germany – came out of the report with much credit.

As a result, there is plenty still to do for CIOs in these areas – a point with which Gartner agrees. Returning to SEA, the company adds: “CIOs have a real opportunity to treat digital risk and security issues ad business enablers, and to use them to help their businesses make key risk-based decisions about engaging in digital business.

“A greater focus on digital security also indicates that organisations are looking to take new approaches to build trust and resilience in the digital world.”

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