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APAC IT leaders bullish on tech spending

Over half of respondents in this year’s IT Priorities study have bigger IT budgets as they continue to make strategic investments in cyber security, cloud and automation, among other areas

IT leaders across the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region remain bullish about IT spending despite macroeconomic headwinds as they continue to invest in strategic areas such as cyber security, automation and cloud computing to bolster their digital chops.

Those were some of the findings revealed by the latest TechTarget/Computer Weekly IT Priorities 2023 study, which found that 55% of organisations in the region have bigger IT budgets this year, particularly among larger ones which are increasing budgets the most.

Just 8% of the more than 500 respondents who took part in the study are cutting their IT spending, while 26% will continue to maintain the same budget they had last year.

This optimism spells good news for the tech industry, which has been grappling with layoffs and longer procurement cycles as more organisations scrutinise their IT spending and realign their priorities to position themselves better for the future.

Among the top IT priorities that have emerged this year were cyber security, cloud, business and IT automation, and data management, which is not surprising given that those are key investment areas for any organisation that is driving efficiency and innovation across the enterprise.

Specifically, in terms of cyber security, organisations have taken a measured approach by investing in people-, process- and technology-related security initiatives.

People-centric initiatives such as security awareness training remained at the top of the agenda, followed by process- and technology-centric programmes such as security monitoring, vulnerability management and penetration testing to strengthen cyber resilience.

It is concerning, however, that some organisations in APAC may be underestimating the importance of incident response and recovery, which are just as critical to limit damages caused by a cyber attack or data breach.

According to the study, just one in five respondents are investing in incident response capabilities, and just one in three have plans to invest in ransomware protection and backup hardware and software.

The move to cloud among organisations in APAC has been accelerating for some time, led by investments in hybrid cloud and multicloud.

Some 40% of organisations in APAC claimed to be cloud-first, but that figure was lower than that of North America, where half of respondents claimed the same. APAC’s lower cloud maturity level was underscored by the fact that 70% of respondents have less than half of their workloads on the public cloud.

Still, the growing cloud adoption is spurring APAC organisations to invest more in cloud-based networking, security and storage offerings. Investments in software-defined wide-area networking (SD-WAN), secure access service edge (SASE) and cloud-based storage are all expected to grow this year.

Across their IT infrastructure, APAC organisations have also been doubling down on IT automation (41%) and harnessing observability and orchestration tools (30%) to make IT operations more efficient.

Within the business, they are also automating business processes, leveraging integration and automation platforms (49%) to shore up business productivity. In fact, some 68% of organisations in the region plan to ramp up their automation efforts, more so than other parts of the world.

Closely related to automation initiatives is the use of artificial intelligence (AI), which has been in the limelight thanks to advances in generative AI models such as GPT-3. This year, AI investments are among the top priorities in APAC, alongside related capabilities such as data science, analytics platforms and machine learning operations (MLOps).

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