Published on December 7, 2023, 1:08 am

A recent Gartner survey conducted in Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) has revealed that an increasing number of CIOs and technology executives in the region are prioritizing cybersecurity as their largest area of technology investment for 2024. According to the survey, 87% of ANZ CIOs and technology executives plan to allocate a significant portion of their budget to cybersecurity, compared to 62% in 2023. This trend is higher than the global average of 80% for CIOs worldwide.

In addition to cybersecurity, ANZ CIOs are also expected to invest heavily in cloud platforms (79%) and data analytics (78%) in the coming year. Interestingly, despite the hype surrounding AI and machine learning, investments in this area rank sixth at 62%. Organizations are primarily focusing on using AI technologies to improve operational efficiency and bridge IT talent gaps.

Addressing these investment priorities, Andy Rowsell-Jones, a distinguished VP analyst at Gartner, explained that although generative AI (GenAI) has received significant attention this year, cybersecurity remains a top investment priority due to highly publicized data breaches across the ANZ region over the past year. Risk and audit committees are concerned about potential cybersecurity fallout, and regulators are actively advocating for improved competence in this area.

Rowsell-Jones further noted that while only a small number of organizations have moved past the proof-of-concept stage with GenAI trials, once they reach the deployment stage, substantial investment will be required. He predicts that as organizations progress with GenAI implementation beyond experimentation, investments will increase.

The survey also highlights areas where tech investments are expected to decline in the coming year. Legacy infrastructure and data center technologies top this list at 50%, followed by reductions in investments for ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), next-generation compute technology (both at 10%), and application modernization (9%). Rowsell-Jones explains that while decreasing investments in application modernization may seem surprising, it is likely a result of ANZ CIOs prioritizing other pressing issues within their organizations.

To support the democratisation of digital delivery, ANZ CIOs have already started laying the foundation with technologies like low-code platforms, deploying or planning to deploy them in the next 24 months. GenAI is considered a game-changing technology for the following year, and while only 10% of CIOs have deployed it so far, over half of them (58%) have plans for deployment in the near future. Rowsell-Jones suggests that GenAI platforms are reducing barriers to adoption for software developers and emphasizes that ANZ CIOs should provide support and facilitate its adoption across their organizations.

Other leading emerging digital technologies set to be deployed or utilized within the next 24 months include AI/machine learning (76%), distributed cloud (62%), and 5G (57%).

Looking ahead to business priorities in 2024, Gartner predicts a focus on customer experience excellence (70%), ensuring compliance and minimizing risks (57%), and improving operating margins (48%) through digital technology investments. Organizations have become more realistic in their approach to digital transformation, investing in digital enablement to improve cost efficiencies and operational effectiveness or augmenting traditional product offerings with digital capabilities to provide expanded services.

The survey demonstrates that ANZ organizations recognize both the importance of cybersecurity investment as well as the potential benefits offered by emerging technologies like GenAI. By strategically allocating resources towards these areas and adopting a pragmatic approach to digital transformation, ANZ businesses are positioning themselves for growth and success in an increasingly digital world.

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