December 15, 2009 – On the brink of the new year, business leaders are changing their posture. According to a new study by market research firm Gartner Inc., tactical business priorities are rapidly changing and there are new expectations of IT in a post-recession economy.

In fact, 62 percent of CEOs consider IT-enabled change to be a key element in their post-recession strategy, compared to 13 percent who disagree, according to the report, “Early Findings From the 2010 Gartner CEO and Business Executive Survey.”

This is a significant shift from the “low-hanging fruit” of  cost cutting business leaders focused on earlier this year, according to Mark Raskino, research vice president and Gartner fellow. Business leaders are gasping for growth after a long period holding their breath, and they are expecting to increase the importance of IT in their post-recession approach.

A reprioritization of key IT projects can be expected in the coming year as business leaders shift from cost to revenue and reshape business-change priorities, impacting IT project portfolios in turn.

Falling from the number one priority in 2009 to number five for 2010, CEO emphasis on cost cutting has moved toward revenue growth instead. Seventy-one percent of business leaders are making revenue a focus for 2010 and 29 percent are listing it as their primary driver, according to the report. Only 10 percent do not expect revenue growth to be their primary focus until after 2011.

That change is accompanied by a more positive attitude toward IT investment as a whole, with 43 percent of respondents planning to increase funding and another 45 percent intending to maintain their current level. Only 13 percent foresee any decrease in IT spending.

Business leaders are expecting to take up the IT challenge as the economy moves toward recovery next year, but few anticipate a return to the way things worked before 2007 and have no expectations of a return to the same old set of rules and practices, according to the report.

There’s a new “normal” based on the idea that the world will not be the same after this recession, said Raskino. “Buried among our data is a strong belief that this latest recession has established a different economy with a different set of rules. The business leaders’ view that IT enables change will be a key element in their strategy going forward.”

Gartner’s study was conducted in the third quarter of 2009, targeting senior business executives in the U.S. and UK in companies with annual revenue above $1 billion and excluding technology service providers and government. Click here for additional information about the report.

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