5idcAsian C-suite executives are investing in ICT to build a more secured IT infrastructure, address an increasingly complex IT+business environment and tackle talent shortage in an intensively competitive marketplace.

The top technology spend identified by the C-suite are mobility, security and business continuity/availability as well as software applications including software-as-a-service (SaaS) as businesses actively look to ICT to woo new customers, manage escalating operations cost and introduce new innovations to compete differently.

The increasing influence of Line of Business (LoB) is impacting CIOs and their IT departments. While not all companies have allowed, intentionally or otherwise, LoB to influence or procure technology investments, more CIOs are collaborating with LoB to improve the business outcomes of ICT projects.

This year, IDC has identified the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) community as the partner of choice and benefit for CIOs with mobility as the top technology spend category. Marketeers in Asia Pacific clearly understand that mobility is the online platform and customer engagement channel. Already more than 1/5 of the CMO respondents have direct IT budget and procurement authority in their organizations.

With the convergence of social media/business, mobility, business analytics and cloud, the power of CIO+CMO cannot be underestimated. Businesses and governments who are looking at finding innovative ideas to propel forward in a highly-competitive markets where economic growth is slowing and markets are becoming borderless, understand this and other CIO+LoB partnerships are critical.

IDC believes that the role of the CIO will not be eliminated anytime soon. The rising dependence on technology and the growing need for governance, compliance and regulations (GRC) in supporting and enabling business mean that ICT roles will still play a significant part in organizations. The challenge is in the ability of IT executives to deliver business value.

These are some of the key findings from the IDC Asia/Pacific C-suite Barometer 2013, an annual C-level research conducted to understand business and technology priorities, concerns and challenges. Each year, IDC modifies the questionnaire to take into count the latest dynamics and evolving procurement and consumption behaviors.

This year, over 1,000 C-level executives participated, including 496 CIO/CTO (i.e. traditional technology buyers), 325 CMO and 182 CFO/other LoB. More than half of the respondents have C-level titles and all are in-region decision makers within their organizations.

Business+tech priorities across the region

Respondents identified their top business priorities as operational efficiency and productivity (22%); overall cost savings (20%) and market expansion (12%).

To increase operational efficiency and productivity, respondents say they are increasingly focusing on delivering automation from IT.

Last year, businesses focused on finding new customers and reducing customer churn. This year, however, the emphasis is on white space opportunities.

This indicates the intense hunger to deliver growth and the challenge in achieving it given that the Asian region had already experienced hyper/high growth over the last decade or so. The region has also begun to see one to three years of moderate/low growth.

Regional IT decision-making structures and the rise of Emerging Asian Enterprises

IDC identified four categories of IT decision-making structures in the region:

  • Transformational IT
  • Federated or distributed IT
  • IT center of excellence (or shared services)
  • Centralized IT

With Transformational IT structures, the CIO or the organization (typically with the CEO as the executive sponsor) pushes to deliver business outcomes from the large majority of IT investments/projects. These CIOs/IT heads bring to live business ideas through the use of ICT.

Federated/distributed IT is the most complex of all the structures and it typically includes a group CIO with country CIOs or a centralized IT department with IT resources also within the LoB/Business Unit (BU).

The IT center of excellence or shared service center is one where a center is dedicated to deliver IT resources. This is typically the most conservative of all IT structures and the charter is technical in nature.

Finally, with Centralized IT structures, decisions are made centrally. For emerging Asian enterprises (EAE), this means decisions are made in the region or in the headquarter country. This group presents the latest and newest set of growth opportunities for the ICT industry as these businesses look to IT automation and innovations to compete better against foreign multinational corporations (MNC) and to capture new markets.

By Sandra Ng, GVP, ICT Practice, IDC Asia Pacific

Sandra Ng has been in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) advisory and consulting industry for more than 20 years. In her current capacity, she leads IDC’s 4 pillar research, telecom industry practice and C-suite advisory services across the Asia/Pacific region. Her ability to discuss broad, strategic and converged issues across the ICT industry enables her to engage with many C-level management teams and technology executives in Asia.