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2017 UK IT budgets show increased CRM and business automation focus

CRM has emerged as the number one UK IT spending priority for 2017, in terms of packaged business applications. Beyond packaged, the top three software initiatives were business process automation, data quality and governance

Customer relationship management (CRM) has emerged as, by far, the number one priority for IT systems buyers in the UK for next year, in terms of packaged business applications, from the 2016 Computer Weekly/TechTarget IT spending priorities survey.

However, in relation to software initiatives that require in-house work by corporate IT, a trio of runners stand out neck and neck: business process automation, data quality and governance, and business intelligence (BI) and its traditional complement, data warehousing.

The survey, undertaken by TechTarget among 353 UK IT professionals in the fourth quarter of 2016, focused on buying decisions for 2017. Similar cohorts were surveyed across the globe, including other European economies France and Germany.

Last year’s survey indicated European IT buyers were more committed to spending their money on business intelligence and data warehousing software initiatives than on packaged business applications, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM).

This year’s figure for CRM, 82%, is significantly ahead of that for ERP (enterprise resource planning), at 48%, customer experience management (48%), and financial management and accounting packages (44%). Marketing automation (19%) and manufacturing management (11%) were the two bottom technology categories in relation to upgrades or fresh implementation.

When it came to software initiatives which go beyond packaged enterprise software, business process automation has leapt to joint-top position, from 18% to 23%, on a par with data quality and governance (23%) and marginally ahead of BI/data warehousing (22%).

In contrast to the British, the survey’s French respondents indicated a far higher level of projected investment in ERP (50%), and a lower level of buying intention for CRM. The top software initiative for the French was big data analytics (21%), significantly ahead of more traditional data warehousing/business intelligence (17%). Some 15% of the UK respondents flocked to big data processing as a technology category for investment.

Read more results from the Computer Weekly/TechTarget annual IT priorities survey for 2017

The survey’s German respondents scored a similar level of relative (to the French) indifference to ERP. The homeland of SAP will have very settled ERP estates. But they showed an unusually high degree of interest in content management (67%). The figures for the UK and France were 17%. As for software initiatives, big data analytics (at 21%) was the top German category, as with the French.

This year, respondents were asked about some of the new and emerging business software developments, such as internet of things (IoT) applications, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), as well as blockchain.

Predictably, the numbers were quite small, in a range from 3% (blockchain for the UK respondents) to 12% (IoT applications, also in the UK). AI and ML registered as initiatives for significant minorities of the French (10%), the British (8%) and the Germans (7%). It will be interesting to see if these categories attract a larger budget, as much press and analyst commentary suggests, in 2017 for 2018.

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