Gartner's 2014 global CIO survey reveals issues faced by IT leaders are not universal, and differences exist at both regional and country levels.
But while economic conditions and budgets vary across countries, CIOs in both business and public sectors face digital opportunities and threats, reports the hype prone analyst firm.
"The CIO survey results clearly show that as digital opportunities and threats pervade every aspect of business and government, the IT and digital agenda for each country, industry and enterprise is becoming more unique," says Dave Aron, Gartner vice president.
"The way businesses and public-sector agencies use information and digital technologies is getting more entwined with their economic, regulatory and competitive contexts, as well as with the state of their business and digital maturity.
"This is a function of every aspect of every business becoming digital -- every process, every employee, every business leader, every customer, every interaction, every moment. Just as our businesses are unique, our digital footprints are becoming all the more unique."
The survey was conducted among 2339 CIOs in the fourth quarter of 2013 and represented more than US$300 billion in CIO IT budgets in 77 countries.
Asia Pacific and Japan (APJ) IT leaders reported increases in IT budgets exceeding the global average (0.9 per cent compared with 0.2 per cent globally). Although not a rapid increase, say Gartner analysts Andy Rowsell-Jones, Poh-Ling Lee and Linda Price, this growth allows IT leaders in the region to prepare the ground to "capture digital opportunities" this year.
The three list three priorities for APJ CIOs as they work to 'tame the digital dragon':
Renovate the core of IT :Top technology priorities for 2014 reveal two complementary goals: Renovating the core of IT, and exploiting new technologies and trends. "Exploiting the new speaks for itself. Meanwhile, the core of enterprise IT -- infrastructure, applications (such as ERP), information and sourcing -- was built for the IT past and needs to be renovated for the digital future."
Build bimodal capability: According to Gartner, there are inherent tensions between doing IT "right" and doing IT fast, doing IT safely and doing IT innovatively, and working the plan and adapting. To capture digital opportunities, CIOs need to deal with speed, innovation and uncertainty. This requires operating two modes of enterprise IT: conventional and nonlinear. Conventional refers to more traditional waterfall development projects, and nonlinear refers to more short-term, agile and lean start-up activities.
Develop digital leadership: Most businesses have established IT leadership, strategy and governance, but have a vacuum in digital leadership. To exploit digital opportunities and ensure that the core of IT services is ready, there must be clear digital leadership, strategy and governance, and all business executives must become digitally savvy.
The report likewise tackles the role of chief digital officer in the organisation. Gartner says only around 11 percent of businesses in the APJ have a CDO, but expects it to become more common in next five years.
The scope of the role is also expected to grow. Globally, 42 per cent of CDOs are focused on digital marketing, but this number is falling as more CDOs become true advisors on digital business strategy to the CEO and board of directors, and so they move into the arena of business strategy, says Gartner.
If the organisation does not have a CDO, should the CIO take on the role? Rowsell-Jones, Lee and Price write this is possible but cite the challenges of holding this dual role.
"In general, the CDO is more of an extension of the chief strategy officer than the CIO, since it is a strategy role informed by the digital context. Board-level strategy, communication and influencing skills are key."
As of last year, they note, 35 per cent of CDOs came primarily from a business strategy or marketing background; and 19 per cent have an IT background. The rest have mixed or other backgrounds.