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CIO IT spending to increase in MEA: Survey

IT spending in the Middle East and Africa will increase by 14% as the role of technology in business grows, according to a survey of CIOs by Gartner.

“Technology’s role in the enterprise is increasing. 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, group VP for Gartner Executive Programs and Gartner Fellow.

“Effective leaders use technology, which includes IT, to strengthen the customer experience and eliminate costly internal distortions. They are using technology to ‘amplify’ the enterprise,” he added.

The worldwide study, titled “Amplifying the Enterprise: The 2012 CIO Agenda”, was conducted in the fourth quarter of 2011.

The trend of increased IT budgets in MEA will contrast greatly to the opposite that will occur in North America and Europe, the report predicts.

“Enterprises in the Middle East, particularly in the Gulf region, are building business capability in support of regional and global growth,” McDonald said.

“As reflected in the 2012 CIO Agenda survey findings, effective leaders see customers as the key factor in both of these strategic components, with the customer experience their focal point in reconciling potentially conflicting goals,” he added.

The study included 2,335 CIOs, representing more than $321 billion in CIO IT budgets and covering 37 industries in 45 countries. 98 firms from the Middle East and Africa responded to the survey, representing $6 billion in CIO IT budgets.

The report states that CIO’s increasingly see technologies – such as analytics/business intelligence, mobility, cloud and social – in combination, rather than isolation, to address business priorities.

Analytics/business intelligence was the top-ranked technology for 2012, the report found, as CIOs in the Middle East combine analytics with other technologies to create new capabilities.

“The 2012 Gartner CIO Agenda survey results show that CIOs believe that the customer experience is the greatest opportunity for IT-enabled innovation. 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,” McDonald said.

“Applying technology as part of amplifying the enterprise reflects both the changing nature of business strategies, and executive expectations about the role of technology in realising those strategies. Amplifying products, services and operations requires an enterprise to strengthen the customer experience and send clearer market signals,” he added.

The report also found improving enterprise mobility capabilities to be a significant focus for CIOs over the next three years. Also, becoming a market leader in their industry was the most commonly stated strategy by the CIOs surveyed.

“Mobility, social media, information and analytics can be used to re-imagine the customer experience, as well as sales and service channels. These technologies do more than automate or administer processes; they are the processes and the sources of value,” McDonald said.

Overall, CIOs ranked growth as their top priority, and in the Middle East they expect much of this growth locally due to, on average, only 20% of regional companies’ revenue coming from outside their home country.

46% of CIOs reported that their CIO IT budget would increase from 2011 to 2012 in terms of actual spending. According to the findings, the average firm will this year see a modest budget increase of between 2 and 3 percent.

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