MIS ASIA IT NATION 2013: Spending more on the same

The 2013 edition of MIS Asia's annual IT Nation study was done in the last quarter of last year. And as in previous years, we canvassed the opinions of the most progressive information and communication technology leaders across Asia, with especial focus on the following: Singapore, Malaysia, India, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Thailand. Also as in all other editions, the IT Nation 2013 study made sure to gather the insights of these IT decision makers of user organisations from the entire spectrum of sectors/industries, including the Public Sector, Financial Services, Transport and Logistics and Manufacturing.

After all that's passed through 2012, what have our leading lights in Asia's ICT got to report on the state of their enterprises and the positive impact their divisions and infrastructures have had in driving their organisations toward a better future?

Read on.

Spending More on the Same

There is a positive note to this year's figures, and that starts with the majority of respondents-57.7 percent-saying they expect their organisation's overall expenditure on ICT to increase in 2013. (This figure is up from last year's marginal majority of 50.85 percent.) The figure for respondents who expected to decrease their spending on ICT through 2013 is 16.1 percent, and 26.3 percent said they see no change in their spending this year.

No change is registered at the top of priority lists for our respondents too. The highest number of responses to the question, "What actions do you expect to take directly in response to current economic conditions?", went to "Cut costs and optimise efficiency of existing systems (67.9 percent). The remainder of the top five priorities are: "More innovation" (54.7 percent); "Implement new projects" (49.6 percent); "Stronger partnership with vendors (36.5 percent); and, "Restructure IT service agreements" (27 percent).

The list of our respondents' top five areas of focus in ICT through 2013 is almost identical to last year's. They are, in order of importance: Automate more business processes; Improve customer satisfaction; Improve information security; Better manage regulatory compliance; and, Increase my enterprise's competitive edge. This is to be contrasted with last year's: Automate more business processes; Improve customer satisfaction; Improve information security; Make my enterprise more agile; and, Better manage regulatory compliance.

Our respondents also expect to allocate the same way this year as they did in 2012. They chose to once again devote the greater portion of their budgets to the following areas (again in order of importance): New application development and implementation; Network infrastructure; Hardware infrastructure; Security and risk management; and, IT governance and compliance.

As for spending on specific kinds of technology or activity in 2013, the highest number of votes went to the maintenance of their level of investment in most areas. We should expect no change in our respondents' expenditure levels on the following: Enterprise content management, ECM, (54.7 percent of respondents said they intend to spend the same in 2013 as they did in 2012 in on ECM); IT service management (53.3 percent); Knowledge Management (53.3 percent); Information security and risk management (51.8 percent); Business continuity planning (51.1 percent); Data warehousing (50.4 percent); the Internet of Things, starting with M2M (50.4 percent); IT consolidation (48.2 percent); Outsourcing (45.3 percent); and, Web 2.0 (45.3 percent).

On the upside, the majority of respondents (50.4 percent), again, intend to increase their spending in Virtualisation. As such, the top technologies or activities to see some kind of increased investment in 2013 are: Virtualisation; Information security & risk management (44.5 percent); Customer relationship management (43.8 percent); Business intelligence/analytics (43.1 percent); and, IT consolidation (42.3 percent).

Specific Areas of Interest

In answer to the question, How has the priority you have for Sustainable (Green) IT changed in the past 12 months? 43 percent of respondents said there had been no change, 28.5 percent said they would be placing increased emphasis on it as a main corporate focus, and 21.2 percent said it was never a priority of theirs to begin with.

When it came to their top concern with respect to their enterprise deployment of cloud computing, the majority (70.1 percent) of respondents cited the Security of data (ref. hackers/breaches). The second and third key worrisome factors were Concern about appropriate levels of SLAs (59.9 percent), and the loss of control of important IT applications (43.1 percent). Only 13.1 percent said they had no major concerns to do with taking their enterprises onto the Cloud.

We should expect the following to be the top three uses of business intelligence/analytics software at respondents' organisations in the current year: the measurement and analysis of business operations data (62 percent of respondents cited this); the measurement and analysis of financial data in relation to business operations data (55.5 percent); and, the measurement and analysis of financial and transactional data (48.9 percent). The use of business intelligence/analytics software to create financial reports, which was third in terms of common use last year, fell to fourth place with 43.1 percent of respondents giving it mention.

At present, unified communications and collaboration software is most often used by respondents' organisations for: the integration of the e-mail system with other business applications (29.2 percent citing this); the integration of the e-mail system with controlled instant messaging (19.7 percent); the integration of e-mail, controlled instant messaging, IP telephony and other business applications (13.1 percent); and the integration of e-mail, controlled instant messaging and IP telephony (12.5 percent). That sounds pretty positive. However, 25.5 percent of respondents said they were seeing to no adoption of unified communications at all.

The most common responses of respondents' organisations to the social networking phenomenon in 2012 were: Ban employees from using social networking programs (29.2 percent of respondents said they ran with this as a corporate policy); Allow employees to use social networking programs but with no support or supervision (20.4 percent); and, Revise policies on social networking to give better guidance on employee use (16.8 percent). Only 2.9 percent of respondents said they saw to upgrading staff training to ensure employees were aware of key social networking issues (such as security risks); 11.7 percent said they encouraged employees to use social networking for work; 10.9 percent said that they had developed business-based systems to tap the potential of social networking to enhance their business operations; and, 6.6 percent of respondents said they had done nothing about implementing social networking systems.

Now, what is the standing of bring your own device (BYOD) at the organisations of our respondents? Last year we reported that their most common response to the BYOD trend in 2011 was to ban the use of such devices on site and prohibit its connection to enterprise infrastructure. In 2012, the most common response was to allow employees to use their own devices at work and not offer any kind of technical support and financial subsidies (44.5 percent of respondents said they ran with this policy last year). Only 26.3 percent of respondents said their organisations continued to maintain their ban on BYOD. A rising number of organisations, on the upside, have upgraded their enterprise communications infrastructure to accommodate BYOD; 15.3 percent of respondents said their organisations did the upgrades in 2012.

In response to the question, How has the current economic climate influenced our organisation's approach to Business Continuity Planning (BCP)?-43.1 percent of respondents said that although it had enhanced their awareness and understanding of the importance of BCP, they did not intend to spend anymore on it than they already are; 27.7 percent said that it had made them more aggressive in their pursuit of comprehensive business continuity coverage, and that they indeed will be spending more on BCP; 24.8 percent said that it had no influence on their business continuity strategies; and, interestingly too, 4.4 percent said that it had prompted to cut their expenditure on BCP.

Most, Least, Nondeliverables

Our respondents were asked about the value their investments in specific areas of technologies or activities had delivered to their businesses in 2012.

The following received the highest number of votes from our respondents for having had no effect on their businesses in the past year: Outsourcing (43.8 percent of respondents cited this); Business Continuity Planning (42.3 percent); Enterprise Content Management (40.9 percent); and, Data Warehousing (40.1 percent).

The following received the highest number of votes for having Most Delivered: Virtualisation (48.9 percent); Information Security and Risk Management (43.1 percent); Enterprise Resource Planning (42.3 percent); IT Consolidation (42.3 percent); and, Business Intelligence/Analytics (42.3 percent).

Listen Up

In their concluding remarks, the majority of respondents offered the following words of advice to IT vendors, who may well be their current or prospective providers through 2013: Be more responsive to issues (75.9 percent of respondents said this was what they wanted vendors to focus on the most); Reduce your prices (64.2 percent); Deliver better follow up (53.3 percent); and, Be more realistic when citing delivery deadlines (52.6 percent). More than 45 percent of respondents said they wanted vendors to share more responsibility in the implementation and maintenance of the systems they have provided; 43.8 percent want their SLAs to be made "more flexible); and, 19.7 percent want to meet up more often with their technology providers, presumably for updates on their technologies and/or projects.

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