Thirty-one per cent of CIOs in the Asia-Pacific region have evolved their digital initiatives to the scaling stage, up from 19 per cent in 2018, according to Gartner’s annual global CIO survey.
The acceleration of digital business maturation indicates a move from experiments to application on a much larger scale, motivated by a need to increase customer engagement via digital channels.
The 2019 Gartner CIO Agenda survey gathered data from more than 3000 CIO respondents in 89 countries and all major industries.
With 47 per cent of Asia-Pacific CIOs reporting their enterprises have already changed their business models or are in the process of changing them, the results represent a tipping point, the analyst firm says. Importantly, 40 per cent report that consumer demand is now driving changes in the business model.
“The ability to support greater scale i being invested and developed in three key areas: volume, scope and agility,” said Andy Rowsell-Jones, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. “All areas aim at encouraging consumers to interact with the organisation. Generally speaking, the greater the variety of interactions that are available via digital channels, the more engaged a consumer becomes and the lower the costs to serve them are.”
In what must be a relief for CIOs, the transformation towards digital business is actually being supported by steady IT budget growth. Globally, CIOs expect their budgets to grow by 2.9 per cent in 2019, but Asia Pacific leads the world with expected 3.5 per cent growth.
“CIOs should use their financial resources to make 2019 a transformative year for their businesses,” said Rowsell-Jones. “Stay active in transformation discussions and invest time, money and human resources to remove any barriers to change. Enterprises that fall behind in digital business now will have to deal with a serious competitive disadvantage in the future.”
The top five areas in which Asia-Pacific CIOs will invest new or additional funding in 2019 are business intelligence and data analytics (42 per cent); core system improvements and transformation (33 per cent); artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (33 per cent); cybersecurity and information security (32 per cent); and digital business initiatives (30 per cent).
Of these technologies, 34 per cent of CIOs in the region expect AI to be the most disruptive game changer for their organisations in 2019, taking over from data and analytics. Forty-nine per cent of Asia-Pacific CIOs have already deployed AI technology or deployment is in short-term planning. AI is most commonly used for chatbots (37 per cent), process optimisation (27 per cent) and fraud detection (20 per cent)
“This rapid shift to AI looks revolutionary on the surface, but this bump in adoption rate may indicate irrational exuberance instead. While CIOs can’t afford to ignore this class of technologies, they should retain a sense of proportion. This latest batch of AI tools is yet to go through its Trough of Disillusionment.
“CIOs in the region excelled at scaling their digital business last year, but they now have to take it one step further and put their growing digital business on a stable and secure base,” said Rowsell-Jones. “Their success hinges on a sound strategy that combines news, disruptive technologies with a rebalancing of existing investments.”