CIOs to work with 2005-level budgets

Technology investment will shift direction this year as CIOs plan for recovery, but they will only h

IT budgets will remain roughly flat for 2010 globally, following swingeing cuts of 8.1% last year that effectively wiped away four years of budget rises, according to the 2010 CIO survey by Gartner Executive Programmes (EXP). UK budgets, however, willbe worse hit than most, falling slightly. 2009 was the worst year for budgets Gartner had seen since it began its yearly survey in 1999.

While last year the emphasis was on cost-cutting efficiency, this year would be about achieving better results through IT productivity. CIOs should see this as an opportunity for IT to accelerate the move from IT as support function to becoming a strategic force.

"Having a really tough economy has managed to get rid of some of the bad projects that Gartner called 'zombie projects' and meant companies have implemented more stringent financial disciplines and better governance that leaves them in a good position," said Gartner vice president Dave Aron.

Budget constraints and this shift in focus were reflected in the list of technology priorities highlighted by the CIOs. Business Intelligence dropped from the number one priority - a spot it has held for the last five years - to the number five position. Enterprise applications fell out of the top 10 technology priority list altogether after four years in the number two spot. In their place were virtualisation, cloud computing and Web 2.0 social computing - all characterised by the ability to be implemented quickly without vast expense and bring quick results.

"There are enough success stories so people are beginning to believe the hype [about cloud, social computing]. On the demand side, there's a desire to be more financially agile and scale up and down when needed and a desire to focus less on infrastructural stuff inside businesses and use collaboration services sourced in this new way," said Aron.

The worldwide survey conducted between September and December 2009 included responses form 1,586 CIOs from 41 countries and 27 industries, and accounting for $126bn in corporate and public-sector IT spending.