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Organisations' investment in technology increases but growing skills shortage hinders progress in APAC - Harvey Nash CIO Survey 2014

Hong Kong, Tuesday 20th May 2014 - More organisations are reporting increasing investment in technology than at any time since 2006 as business confidence returns and companies act fast to play catch up on their digital offering.
This is according to the 16th annual Harvey Nash CIO Survey, representing the views of more than 3,200 Chief Information Officers (CIOs) and Technology leaders from across more than thirty countries, with a combined technology spend of over $160bn. The survey is one of the largest and most comprehensive polls of technology leaders in the world.

As the global economy begins to recover, organisations are ramping up their investment in digital, mobile and online which has had a further knock-on effect on the growing skills shortage.  76 per cent of companies in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region report that lack of access to the right technology talent is holding them back (compared to 60 per cent globally). 

Nick Marsh, MD of Harvey Nash Asia Pacific commented: "The Harvey Nash CIO Survey 2014 highlights a clear concern over technology skills shortages in the Asia Pacific region.  There is a strong commitment from technology leaders to increase investment, but the key issue is where they now turn to find the right talent, as we are facing a skills shortage on a global scale.  

"Skills will have to be imported from other regions such as Australasia and Europe, serving to stretch the already scarce resources to the limit.  Organisations need to invest in developing their talent today, or they will be sure to lose out in the future."

Record optimism

Technology budgets are growing globally as Chief Executives increasingly favour investing for growth over cost reduction and efficiencies. Newly created roles within companies are evolving to lead digital growth, such as the emergence of the 'Chief Digital Officer' and the increasing influence Chief Marketing Officers have over technology related spend.

  • Budget growth: 46 per cent of CIOs and Technology leaders experienced budget growth in the last twelve months, up from 42 per cent last year, and the highest level of budget growth since 2006 (where 47 per cent of Technology leaders experienced budget growth). 
  • CEO priorities changing but APAC still focused on cost saving: Almost two-thirds of CEOs (63 per cent) now prioritise projects that generate cash (such as digital marketing, customer oriented systems and innovation led projects) over projects designed to deliver cost savings or improve operational performance. As business confidence improves, CEOs shifting their attention away from cost saving (their top survey priority for five years between 2009 and 2013) to using technology to improve the effectiveness of their operations.  However, the APAC region still lags behind in this area with saving costs still the priority of CIOs, standing at 67 per cent.
  • Emergence of the Chief Digital Officer (CDO):  Seven per cent of organisations now employ a CDO, a position that until recently did not exist, rising to 16 per cent for companies with technology budgets of $100m and over.  In APAC, 11 per cent of companies currently have a CDO (4 per cent more than the global average).  CIOs are now less likely to have a direct role in shaping the digital strategy, with 50 per cent playing an active role in 2014, down from 56 per cent last year.  

New projects and priorities are creating skills shortages:
For the first time since the recession, the skills shortage is once again appearing as a major management concern. In APAC, the problem is particularly acute. Retaining, developing and acquiring the skills to drive the growth program are now major priorities for leaders all over the world.
  • Big jump in skills shortage:  76 per cent of technology leaders in the APAC region are experiencing a skills shortage within their teams preventing their company keeping up with its competitors.  Globally this is up to 60 per cent from 45 per cent last year, and represents the biggest increase since the survey started tracking this area in 2005.
  • Regional differences: Leaders in Asia are most worried about skills shortages; however, in every region at least half the leaders polled voiced a similar concern.
Asia Pacific   76% 
Northern Europe           61%
West / Rest of Europe  60%
UK           59%
Eastern Europe           57%
North America   56% 
Australasia   50%
Table: CIOs indicating concern that skills shortage is hindering progress

  • Retention of talent a concern: Ninety per cent of CIOs and Technology leaders were concerned about retaining their best people, while 35 per cent were 'greatly' concerned. Larger companies (250 technology staff or more) are 46 per cent more likely than smaller companies (less than 50 technology staff) to be 'greatly' concerned; suggesting that in the technology sector smaller, high growth companies are more attractive to talented technology professionals. 55 per cent of respondents in the APAC region also received a pay rise in the past year, 24 per cent more than the global average (31 per cent) demonstrating the value placed on good talent.
Dr Jonathan Mitchell, Chairman of Harvey Nash's global CIO Practice commented:  "After six years of sluggish activity, this report clearly shows that 2014 is a watershed year. CIOs and Technology leaders are seeing growing budgets and growing prominence in their organisation as CEOs are turning to technology to drive growth.

"However, significant challenges lie ahead. This year has seen a worrying increase in the number of leaders citing concerns about skills shortages. To be successful, organisations will not only need a clear technology strategy, but they will also need the right people to deliver it."



About the research:

(i) The Harvey Nash CIO Survey 2014 collected data between 6th January and 19th April 2014 and represents the views of 3,211 technology leaders from more than 30 countries, with a combined IT spend of $160bn. Of the respondents, 34 per cent identified themselves as CIOs, 8 per cent as CTOs, 36 per cent as director / VP in technology and the remaining 22 per cent were spread across a broad range of other roles including CEOs and COOs.

(ii) For more information about the survey and to request a full copy of the results, please visit or email  

Media Relations contacts:

Sophie Gray
Marketing and Communications Director, Harvey Nash APAC
+852 3199 6942

About Harvey Nash
Established in 1988, Harvey Nash has helped over half the world's leading companies recruit, source and manage the highly skilled talent they need to succeed in an increasingly competitive, global and technology driven world. With over 7,000 experts in more than 40 offices across Europe, Asia and the USA, we have the reach and resources of a global organisation, whilst fostering a culture of innovation and agility that empowers our people across the world to respond to constantly changing client needs. We work with clients, both large and small, to deliver a portfolio of services: executive search, professional recruitment and IT outsourcing.

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