Almost three quarters of CIOs expect to increase IT spending this year despite tough economic conditions, according to new research.

Some 400 CIOs across France, Germany, the United Arab Emirates, Poland and the UK, were about their spending priorities over the next 12 months by technology market research firm Vanson Bourne.

It found that 71% expected to increase IT spending in 2013. Respondents were asked to pick their top five spending priorities over the next year, and virtualisation and consolidation programmes came out on top.

Among the EMEA respondents 50% prioritised server virtualisation, and 40% data centre consolidation. Another 34% cited storage consolidation, and 33% prioritised desktop virtualisation. Server upgrades were also the focus for 33%.

Overall, 10% of respondents plan to make "aggressive investments" to improve their company’s competitiveness. The survey found that 28% of companies surveyed indicated that efficiency and cuts to overall spend are key drivers for the investments they will make in the next 12 months.

In addition, 20% assumed that spend will continue at the same level as the last three to five years. Only 9% of the total sample indicated that IT budgets were shrinking, and that they would be spending less over the next 12 months.

The survey was commissioned by networked app performance technology company Riverbed Technology.