Digital Technologies Are Top Priorities in 2013: Gartner

As CIOs amplify the enterprise with digital technologies while improving IT organizational structure, 2013 promises to be a year of dual priorities.

Over the last 18 months, digital technologies, including mobile, analytics, big data, social and cloud, have reached a tipping point with business executives, with a report from IT research firm Gartner advising that there is no choice but to increase technology's potential in the enterprise.

The global survey, conducted in the fourth quarter in 2012 and including 2,053 CIOs representing more than $230 billion in CIO IT budgets across 36 industries in 41 countries, found enterprises realize on average only 43 percent of technology's business potential, which means businesses must evolve IT strategies, priorities and plans beyond tending to the usual concerns as CIOs expect their 2013 IT budgets to be essentially flat for the fifth straight year.

"In a world of change, it is concerning that around half of CIOs surveyed do not see IT's enterprise role changing over the next three years," group vice president and Gartner Fellow Mark McDonald said in a statement. "IT needs new tools if it hopes to hunt for technology-intensive innovation and harvest raised business performance from transformed IT infrastructure, operations and applications. Without change, CIOs and IT consign themselves to tending a garden of legacy assets and responsibilities."

For 2013, CIO IT budgets are projected to be slightly down, with a weighted global average decline of 0.5 percent—in line with CIO IT budgets ever since the dot-com bust of 2002, which have all seen flat or negative growth. The top 10 global technology priorities revealed by the survey reflect a greater emphasis on externally oriented digital technologies such as mobile technology and applications, cloud computing and customer relationship management (CRM), as opposed to traditional IT and operationally oriented systems.

"As CIOs continue to amplify the enterprise with digital technologies while improving IT organizational structure, management and governance, 2013 promises to be a year of dual priorities," vice president and Gartner Fellow Dave Aron said in a statement. "Key CIO strategies identified in the survey reflect the realities of these dual business priorities and confirm the need to expand IT's ability to hunt for new opportunities and harvest current business value. While CIOs recognize that IT's value contribution comes from delivering business solutions, they also recognize that the prioritization and delivery of specific results must change."

About two-thirds (67 percent) of CIOs surveyed said they have significant leadership responsibilities outside of IT, with only 33 percent having no other such responsibilities. This situation contrasts sharply with 2008, when almost half of CIOs had no responsibilities outside of IT. When asked which digital technologies would be most disruptive, 70 percent of CIOs cited mobile technologies, followed by big data/analytics at 55 percent, social media at 54 percent and public cloud at 51 percent.