© iStock/lovelyday12
© iStock/lovelyday12

Data analytics and cloud will dominate CIO spending over the next three years, according to responses to the 2019 CIO 100 questionnaire. Those recognised in the CIO 100 have taken a more focused approach to their budgeting than in previous years, with proven investments prioritised over emerging technologies that are yet to live up to their hype.

Machine learning and artificial intelligence, however, is bucking the trend with a significant increase in CIOs who are expecting to be investing in this area - some 85% compared to just 53% of the 2017 CIO 100.

The two technologies also topped the expected focus of spending in responses to a previous CIO 100 survey about where they would focus technology spending in 2018 - with 84% of respondents expecting to invest in cloud, compared to 79% for data/analytics. This year, their positions at the top were reversed, with 93% expected to invest in data/analytics, compared to 91% in cloud.

Security remained third on the list. Like the top two, the number of CIOs expecting to invest it in increased significantly, from 73% in 2018 to 86% to this year's research which asked CIOs on which technologies they expected to be investing in over the next 1-3 years.

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However, emerging technologies with less proven value such as AR/VR, wearables and 3D printing are of decreasing interest to CIOs, while the interest around more stable IT essentials of CRM and infrastructure all remained relatively static.

Safer investments

The survey results suggest that leading CIOs in the UK are now focusing their investments on proven and essential IT, while taking a more cautious approach to emerging technologies that are yet to show their value in experiments and implementations.

Steinhoff UK CIO Chily Fachler is one of the CIOs who endorses this strategy.

"The technology is there and it's fabulous - but if you're chasing the technology for the technology's sake, you're not going to get much benefit out of it," he told CIO UK in 2018.

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"If you're chasing technology because it's answering a problem and it's giving you a solution for an issue that you have, then that's when technology is at its finest.

"I think you have to experiment a little bit, but you can't go and spend hundreds and thousands on technology that isn't answering your question."

Value of data

The one emerging technology that is attracting an increasing investment is AI and machine learning, which 85% of CIOs expect to invest in over the 1-3 years.

The technology is attracting a growing level of attention from CIOs. In 2017 some 53% of the CIO 100 responded they expected to be investing in AI and machine learning, rising to 71% for 2018.

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Combining this figure with the large number of CIOs who expect to invest in data/analytics (93%) and business intelligence (74%), shows a growing recognition of the power of data science, which is increasingly seen as essential to every digital business.