Cyber security will see the largest increase in technology investment among Australian and New Zealand CIOs and executives in the New Year.
This is according to Gartner research that has found 87 per cent of A/NZ CIOs and technology executives place their biggest investment in cyber security space, particularly as greater regulation and threats expand.
"While a significant amount of focus has been directed towards generative AI (GenAI) this year, cybersecurity remains at the top of the investment list again given the highly publicised data breaches we've seen across A/NZ over the past 12 months," Gartner analyst Andy Rowsell-Jones said.
"Every organisation's risk and audit committee are worrying about a potential cyber security fallout and most industry regulators are actively pushing for improved competence."
The 2024 Gartner CIO and Technology Executive Survey gathered data from 2,457 respondents in 84 countries, including 87 in A/NZ across the public, private and non-profit sectors.
Behind cybersecurity, 79 per cent of A/NZ CIOs are expected to direct the largest amount of new or additional funding in 2024 towards cloud platforms, followed by data analytics (78 per cent).
Despite the recent hype, AI and machine learning was ranked in sixth place (62 per cent), with investments directed towards increasing operational efficiency and bridging IT talent gaps.
"This will change, however, once organisations move past the proof-of-concept stage, particularly for GenAI," Rowsell-Jones said.
"Currently only a small number of organisations are edging towards production with their GenAI trials - deployment is when the real investment starts."
According to the survey, A/NZ CIOs said the top three technologies they will decrease investments in next year are legacy infrastructure and data centre technologies (50 per cent), ERP and next-generation compute technology (both 10 per cent) and application modernisation (9 per cent).
"While it's surprising to see that investments in application modernisation will decrease next year, it's unlikely that it has run its course," Rowsell-Jones said. "More likely, it has just been deprioritised in the face of other more pressing issues for A/NZ CIOs."
Democratising digital delivery with GenAI
A/NZ CIOs have already been laying the foundation for democratised digital delivery with technologies such as low-code platforms, which 68 per cent said they have deployed or plan to deploy in the next 24 months.
A/NZ CIOs said that GenAI is the top game-changing technology for next year, which will also rapidly advance the democratisation of digital delivery beyond the IT function, Gartner said.
While only 10 per cent of CIOs have already deployed GenAI technologies, over half (58 per cent) say they will deploy over the next 24 months.
"GenAI platforms are reducing the barriers to adoption for software developers, which means the technology is poised for rapid deployment next year," Rowsell-Jones said.
"A/NZ CIOs should harness this capability and provide the guardrails to support and facilitate business technologists keen on GenAI adoption in the wider organisation."
According to the survey, business priorities next year will mix customers and regulators with financial performance.
A/NZ CIOs cited excelling in customer or citizen experience (70 per cent), ensuring compliance and minimising risks (57 per cent) and improving operating margins (48 per cent), as the most critical outcomes from digital technology investments.
"Interest in digital is undiminished, but A/NZ organisations have become more realistic in their attitudes to it," Rowsell-Jones said.
"Rather than trying to become the next digital giant, organisations are investing in digital enablement, either to improve cost and operational efficiencies, or to augment a traditional product set with digital capabilities so they can offer more services."
The other leading emerging digital technologies that enterprises in A/NZ have already deployed or plan on deploying in the next 24 months include AI/machine learning (76 per cent), distributed cloud (62 per cent) and 5G (57 per cent).