IT budgets are set to increase again as organisations' priorities in the UK and Ireland shift from cost cutting to growing and enhancing customer experience, a new study commissioned by Fujitsu and Harvard PR claims.
The survey of 176 organisations across the retail banking, investment and insurance sectors found that cost-cutting, which was the sole focus in 2012, has slid down on the priority list, with just over a quarter (27%) of IT decision makers now stressing its importance compared to over half two years ago. 37% of respondents also expect to have adequate funds in a time span of three years to address this focus.
The top four IT decision maker priorities for 2014 identified in the study include increasing and improving customer experience (28%), improving efficiency (27%), reducing costs (27%) and maximising growth (26%).
The renewed priorities come amid increasing focus on innovation, which took a back seat during the recent economic crisis.
Less than half (47%) of the IT budget within financial services organisations is currently spent on maintenance, with a surprising 28% now invested in innovation.
More than two thirds (70%) of respondents want focus on more value enhancing IT initiatives rather than resolving issues created by legacy systems, the study said.
The survey also points out issues related to effectiveness of the IT department. Financial services IT teams struggle more than half (56%) of the time to deliver to their optimum ability while 44% noted that they 'tend to frequently' meet objectives and goals.
Lack of labour resources was the main issue (18%) followed by lack of financial resources (14%) and internal politics/decision making (14%).
Fujitsu UK & Ireland head of Financial Services Anne MacRae said: "In the next three years team members could be spread across the company, each delivering different products and services.
"The IT department must redefine its role recognising the contribution it must make to ensuring consistency, driving efficiency and achieving compliance, as financial organisations embrace the opportunity of business led transformation."
The study was conducted with CIOs, IT Directors and/or Heads of IT, Heads of IT Strategy, CTOs and other members of the IT function, who are involved in IT solutions and purchases across 176 companies in the UK and Ireland.