Gartner Survey Finds Digital Business Will Drive 75 Percent of CIOs in Asia/Pacific and Japan to Adapt Leadership by 2018

Seventy-five percent of chief information officers (CIOs) in Asia/Pacific and Japan recognize the need to adapt their leadership style from “control” to “visionary” in the next three years to succeed in digital business, according to a new report from Gartner, Inc.

In its annual survey of more than 2,810 CIOs worldwide, representing more than US$397 billion in CIO IT budgets in 84 countries, Gartner asked how CIOs should adapt their leadership to ensure their enterprises survive and thrive in an increasingly digital world. The survey included responses from 563 CIOs in 17 countries throughout Asia/Pacific and Japan.

“Incrementally improving IT performance isn’t enough to grasp the digital opportunity,” said Gartner vice president Andy Rowsell-Jones at a Gartner CIO Forum in Seoul today. “CIOs need to ‘flip’ from legacy to digital in terms of information and technology leadership, value leadership and people leadership. Many CIOs in Asia/Pacific and Japan are ahead or on par with their counterparts elsewhere is the world in some areas, yet lag in others.”

According to the survey, 87 percent of CIOs in Asia/Pacific and Japan agree that in addition to the considerable opportunities it brings, the digital world is creating new, different and higher levels of risk, and 69 percent said that the discipline of risk management is not keeping up. Eighty-two percent also believe that having the agility to deal with unexpected risks is crucial. CIOs therefore need to review with the enterprise and IT risk leaders whether risk management is adapting fast enough to a digital world.

Technology priorities for 2015

The move to digital entails multiyear changes in information, technology, business processes, business models and talent. CIOs in Asia/Pacific and Japan are doing well in some areas, such as embracing analytics, cloud, mobile and social, and evaluating technologies such as thinking machines and sensor/Internet of Things.

Business intelligence and analytics tops the list of technology priorities for CIOs in 2015, both in Asia/Pacific and Japan, as well as for CIOs in the rest of the world (see Table 1). Cloud and mobile technologies are next on the list. The focus on business intelligence and analytics as a top priority differs only in Japan and China, where the top technology investment choices are in cloud and infrastructure/data center, respectively.

Table 1: Top Technology Priorities for 2015: Asia/Pacific and Japan vs. Rest of World

Asia/Pacific and Japan

Rest of World

1. BI/Analytics 1. BI/Analytics 
2. Cloud 2. Infrastructure and Data Center
3. Mobile 3. ERP 
4. Infratructure and Data Center 4. Cloud
5. ERP  5. Mobile 
6. Digitalization/Digital Marketing  6. Digitalization/Digital Marketing
7. Security 7. Security 
8. Networking, Voice and Data Communications 8. Networking, Voice and Data Communications 
9. CRM 9. CRM

10.  Legacy Modernization

10.  Industry-Specific Applications

11.  IT Services Automation

11.  Legacy Modernization

12.  Industry-Specific Applications

12.  Enterprise Apps

Source: Gartner, January 2015

When it comes to thinking about emerging technologies and how they might apply to their business, Gartner’s survey showed that CIOs in Asia/Pacific and Japan are ahead in the adoption or experimentation of sensors/Internet of Things and thinking machines; on par with robotics and augmented humans; and lagging in 3D printing.

IT budgets on the rise in general

The positive news for CIOs in Asia/Pacific and Japan is that IT budgets have shown an increase of 3 percent on average, compared with 0.9 percent in 2014. This is significantly higher than the global average expected budget growth of less than one percent. This aggregated increase does, however, mask the reality that faces individual countries: Japan, Australia and New Zealand are all facing declining IT budgets, whereas North Asia (Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea) will experience an impressive increase of 10.3 percent.

“Whether specific countries are faced with increasing or flat budgets, the challenge is to make wise investments,” said Mr. Rowsell-Jones. “There’s an acute need to strike a balance between renovating core investments in areas such as infrastructure and data centers, and creating powerful digital leadership with investments in mobile, cloud or analytics.”

Greater external focus needed

According to the survey, CIOs in Asia/Pacific and Japan spend 8 percent of their time with the board of directors, compared with 6 percent on average by CIOs in the rest of the world. Spending time with the board of directors helps to increase understanding of technology in the organization. The survey also showed that CIOs in Asia/Pacific and Japan spend 10 percent of their time with customers, compared with the average of 11 percent elsewhere.

“This indicates that CIOs the region tend to be a little more internally focused,” said Mr. Rowsell-Jones. “With customer engagement becoming more important in IT as it shifts from a back office to front office function in the digital world, it is becoming more important for CIOs to focus more externally.”

More detailed analysis is available in the report “2015 CIO Agenda: An Asia/Pacific and Japan Perspective” available to Gartner clients at

This report forms part of the 2015 CIO Agenda Special Report research, a collection of research documents based on the 2015 Gartner CIO Agenda Survey, in order to contextualize and clarify the behaviors and decisions facing CIOs in a diverse range of industries and geographies worldwide. The Special Report is available on Gartner’s website at

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