Gartner Survey of Indian CIOs Reveals That Organizations Are Entering the Third Era of IT

Digital business is maturing from tentative experiments to large-scale implementation across the economy. CIOs must evolve their thinking to be in tune with a new era of rapid increases at the scale of digital business. Gartner, Inc.’s annual global survey of CIOs showed that the CIO role will remain critical to digital transformation.

The 2019 Gartner CIO Agenda survey gathered data from more than 3,000 CIO respondents in 89 countries and all major industries, representing approximately $15 trillion in revenue/public-sector budget and $284 billion in IT spending.

The survey shows that digital business reached a tipping point this year. Forty-six percent of Indian CIOs report their organizations have changed their business models or are in the process of changing them.

“What we see here is a milestone in the transition to the third era of IT, the digital era,” said Andy Rowsell-Jones, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. “Initially, CIOs were making a leap from IT-as-a-craft to IT-as-an-industrial-concern. Today, 20 years after we launched the first CIO Agenda survey, digital initiatives, along with growth, are the top priorities for CIOs in 2019. Digital has become mainstream.”

India’s IT Budget Growth Slows Down, But Remains Above the Global Average

The transformation toward digital business is supported by steady IT budget growth. Globally, CIOs expect their IT budgets to grow by 2.9 percent in 2019. This is only slightly less than the 2018 average growth rate of 3 percent. A look at the regional differences shows that the regions are moving closer together, but India still has the lead. Indian IT budgets are expected to grow by 3.9 percent in 2019, which is less than the 7.4 percent growth rate of the previous year. This slowing can be attributed to the larger macroeconomic situation concerning slow economic growth, corporate earnings and market volatility. Overall, Asia/Pacific shows an expected growth of 3.5 percent.

“Indian CIOs should use their financial resources to make 2019 a transformative year for their businesses. Stay active in the transformation discussions and invest time, money and human resources to remove any barriers to change. Organizations that fall behind in digital business now will have to deal with a serious competitive disadvantage in the future,” said Mr. Rowsell-Jones.

Disruptive Technologies Are Breaking Through

Disruptive emerging technologies will play a major role in reshaping business models as they change the economics of all organizations. Gartner asked CIOs and IT leaders which technologies they expect to be game-changers. Among Indian respondents, data and analytics was the most mentioned technology (32 percent); artificial intelligence (AI) ranked second, only slightly behind (30 percent).

With regards to implementation, when asked about their organization’s plans in terms of following digital technologies and trends, we see an impressive 270 percent increase in AI adoption since 2015 in India. During the same time frame, 3D printing adoption increased by 100 percent and conversational interfaces deployment by 48 percent.

“On the surface this looks revolutionary. However, this bump in adoption may indicate irrational exuberance instead,” said Mr. Rowsell-Jones. “While CIOs can’t afford to ignore this class of technologies, they should retain a sense of proportion. For example, the latest batch of AI tools is yet to go through its Trough of Disillusionment.”

Cybersecurity Becomes an All-Company Issue

According to the survey, 94 percent of Indian CIOs expect cybersecurity threats to worsen. It is therefore necessary to create a secure base for digital business that shields both organization and clients. The survey indicates that 62 percent of Indian CIOs said cybersecurity is their responsibility. However, on its own, the IT organization can no longer provide cybersecurity.

The rise of social engineering attacks, such as phishing, requires a broader behavioral change from all employees. However, in only 9 percent of Indian organizations is the board of directors accountable for cybersecurity, rather than the CIO alone. Nevertheless, to improve security against cyberthreats, in all organizations, CIOs are combining measures to harden information-processing assets with efforts to influence the people that use technology.

Last year, I said that CIOs must start scaling their digital business, and they excelled,” said Mr. Rowsell-Jones. “This year, they have to take it one step further and put their growing digital business on a stable and secure base. Success in the third era of enterprise IT hinges on a sound strategy that combines new, disruptive technologies with a rebalancing of existing investments.”