Finding the right skills
Finding people with the right tech skills is becoming increasingly difficult for enterprises that are being forced to look offshore for talent. Research respondents anticipate that they will continue to have difficulty finding staff in the areas of big data/business intelligence and analytics (50 per cent of respondents), followed by security/risk management (35 per cent), and application development/programming/DevOps (33 per cent).
Nicholas Fourie, VP, ICT at Fisher and Paykel in New Zealand, stopped short of saying there’s a skills crisis but says the tech sector is having some challenges with recruitment, particularly in areas such as data analytics.
“I wouldn’t say we have a skills crisis but we do have some challenges with recruitment. I think in the more traditional IT roles there’s definitely enough [talent] in the market to pull from,” he says.
“The other recruitment challenge we have in New Zealand is finding local talent. We get a lot of foreigners who are highly skilled, highly capable but you are not really supporting the local economy by hiring foreigners all the time.
“So while we don’t have any preference, there is a case to ask, 'Where is the local talent and why aren’t they being pipelined into the industry?'” he says.
Who is investing in IT and where?
This year's study indicates that there is a fairly even spread in the percentage of total dollars invested in technology products and services that are directed controlled by IT. Almost half of respondents (46 per cent) controlled between 71 per cent and 99 per cent of total tech spend.
Over the past few years, marketing has invested more and more in technology solutions and this year is no different as organisations realise the high importance of user experience and internal and external customer engagement.
Tech chiefs are expecting their operations (55 per cent) and marketing (51 per cent) divisions to have the budgets specifically earmarked for investments in technology products now and within three years. Marketing’s investment in technology initiatives is only slightly down compared to the 2015 study where 55 per cent indicated money had been put aside for initiatives.
In 2017, 34 per cent of respondents said technology investments would also be made in sales, followed by engineering at 26 per cent.
Meanwhile, more than two thirds (69 per cent) say they consult with the marketing team to determine the requirements for technology-led marketing programs. A further 66 per cent say they meet with the marketing team to evaluate potential vendors, and 64 per cent oversee the implementation of marketing technologies.
It’s not surprising that marketing is earning a larger share of the technology spend, says one CIO. The rise of chief digital officers (CDOs) inside organisations is forcing the CIO into more operational tasks rather than strategic ones, he says.
“Where you have that situation, the CDO and the chief marketing officer does get the lion’s share [of the spend] because they are coming up with the innovative business ideas that require technology. That’s where the CIO has to embrace his or her role as a strategic player and engage with the business to manage, operate and push technology.”
Technology will be used to improve business initiatives around customer experience (60 per cent of respondents) and to improve operational efficiency for 57 per cent of respondents over the next 12 months. Transforming existing business processes is also high on the list (44 per cent of respondents) as is increasing cybersecurity protections (30 per cent), and improving organisational agility (31 per cent).
Cloud computing technology initiatives will remain a priority over the next 12 months for 47 per cent of IT chiefs, followed by big data/business analytics (39 per cent) and security and risk management (29 per cent).
As expected, the testing and deployment of so called emerging and disruptive technologies is on many CIO’s radars over the next 12 months. Forty seven per cent will be piloting or deploying artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies over the next 12 months, followed by virtual and augmented reality (23 per cent).
“Artificial intelligence is coming in under the covers. There’s a lot of market buzz about it but there’s no practical examples. However, blockchain is where the pedal is hitting the metal,” says one CIO. “Some of the stuff the NSW government is doing around blockchain is starting to get really interesting,” he says.
Sussan Group’s Coenen, says a range of technologies come across his desk every day and “we have to look carefully at what we jump into and what we don’t.”
"But I proceed very cautiously with [some technologies] because you can easily jump on the wrong bandwagon and implement things that become irrelevant very quickly," he says.
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