Singapore CIOs are investing in innovative offbeat IT tools such as social networking and Web 2.0 mashup initiatives in preparation for economic recovery, said analyst firm IDC.

More than half of 71 Singapore CIOs who responded to the IDC survey, Asia/Pacific Dynamic IT Benchmark 2009, are doing so.

Fifty-nine per cent are increasing their investments in building new business applications based on Web 2.0 technologies (portals, mashups) and 67 per cent are actively standardising corporate business processes with emerging business management tools. Fifty-nine per cent are also actively revamping social networking and collaboration services for employees in 2009.

"We are at an interesting juncture," said Dr Patrick Chan, chief technology advisor for the IDC Asia Pacific emerging technology council. "As a result of the financial downturn, corporations are under mounting pressure to invest only in IT technology that can help their businesses save costs and grow at the same time. As a result, CIOs today have very challenging roles to play. They need to balance savings against IT investments in order to achieve optimal growth for their organisations."

Open to cloud computing and SaaS

Key findings of the survey include:

• In 2009, 62 per cent of the Singapore CIOs surveyed are investing in business intelligence (BI) tools. Fifty-nine per cent of the enterprises are also more active in data centre server virtualisation projects with 42 per cent also spending in client/desktop virtualisation initiatives.

• Forty-five per cent are currently deploying an IT refresh strategy that focuses on service-oriented architecture (SOA).

• Thirty-seven per cent are trying out new IT financing strategies. These companies are shifting from IT leasing to subscription of IT software and hardware rental over 36 months.

• Sixty-seven per cent are preparing to outsource and interestingly, thirty-seven per cent are willing to host their IT infrastructure and business data in a third-party environment. This indicates that Singapore CIOs are open to newer IT business operating models such as cloud computing and software-as-a-service (SaaS). It is also observed that CIOs interested in cloud computing have radically different IT focus and priorities in contrast to the majority.

• Fifty-three per cent said their key focus areas are to reduce costs and improve profit margins through IT. As the majority of these Singapore CIOs saw a decline in their IT budget, high priority has now been placed on optimising their existing IT infrastructure, and reviewing IT service and cost alignment with business in response to the existing economic crisis.

Chan advises: "It is imperative for CIOs to understand emerging trends in IT as well as the business directions in order to align their organisations on the right path to a better future."