By Sol E. Solomon, ZDNet Asia 15/02/2008 URL: http://www.zdnetasia.com/news/business/0,39044229,62037867,00.htm

Chief information officers (CIOs) in Asia are expecting strong IT budget growth in 2008, reveals a new Gartner survey which polled some 1,500 CIOs worldwide.

Global IT budgets are expected to rise by an average of 3.3 percent in 2008, but growth in Asia is significantly higher--with IT budgets projected to go up by an average 8.3 percent, according to the Gartner Executive Programs (Gartner EXP), a membership-based organization, which the research house said currently has over 3,600 CIOs worldwide.

Andrew Rowsell-Jones, Gartner EXP's vice president and research director for the survey, said the focus on growth in Asia is reflected in different technology priorities, as well as the impact of economic, social and other mega trends.

"Here, the focus is on building out IT infrastructure, rolling out new applications and finding the people and processes to make it all work," Rowsell-Jones said in a press release.

"IT budget growth is back and and almost at dot-com era levels," he said.

According to the Gartner survey, inflation topped the list of economic and social concerns in Asia, and government regulations came in second. However, these rankings were reversed in the global results, the survey found.

Concerns relating to staffing and skills are a universal theme among CIOs globally, noted Gartner.

"Everyone is suffering from resource problems," said Rowsell-Jones. "Only 27 percent of CIOs worldwide believe that they have the right number of skilled people to meet business needs, and the problem is slightly more acute in Asia. That is impacting both IT performance and IT's support for enterprise strategies."

CIO job stability The tenure of Asian CIOs has stabilized at an average of four-and-a-half years, slightly longer than their global counterparts of four years and four months. In addition, 43 percent of CIOs in the region report to the CEO.

Reflecting their enhanced business leadership position, 64 percent of Asian CIOs have responsibilities outside of traditional IT, where the most common additional responsibility is related to business process improvement.

The Gartner EXP report, Making the Difference: The 2008 CIO Agenda, encompasses more than US$132 billion of IT spending and the insights from more than 1,450 enterprises across 33 countries and 23 industries, according to Gartner. The survey included 121 CIOs from 11 countries in Asia, excluding Australia and Japan.