IT is now recognised as key to driving business growth in 2013, according to EMC’s Pan-Europe Middle East and Africa (EMEA) IT transformation survey. 
Businesses across EMEA are prioritising growth activity, with 40% of respondents ranking the development of new products as a top business priority besides increasing revenue (46%).
Additionally, the research makes clear that businesses are adapting their IT infrastructures to meet changing market needs, with the majority (59%) stating that they will alter their IT function in some way over the next 12 months.
According to the research, conducted by Vanson Bourne, two drivers in particular will be key to this change: big data and cloud computing.
Nearly half of surveyed businesses in EMEA (47%) now believe that big data will make new industry winners and losers, while 46% state that they think cloud computing architectures will overtake traditional IT architectures within their organisation over the next three years.
The companies polled in Saudi Arabia (75%) and Turkey (60%) agree most with this statement, while Russia (32%) and the Czech Republic (26%) agree the least.
Overall, respondents are confident that their IT priorities align with their wider business objectives, with emerging markets taking the lead. Morocco (89%) and the Czech Republic (88%) are the most confident in this respect, with the least confident still ranking quite highly: BeLux (65%) and Finland (62%).
Businesses surveyed across the region (78%) are confident they have the skills in place to meet their IT priorities: with Turkey (87%), Morocco (87%), Netherlands (84%), Poland (84%) and Austria (83%) topping the list. The research also reveals that these skills will increasingly need to be centred on big data and cloud computing technology.
Over half of organisations (56%) agree that cloud computing is creating new roles and responsibilities for IT staff. Turkey (72%) and Morocco (70%) believed this statement the most compared with businesses in countries such as Germany (33%) and Austria (22%) less likely to think that this will be the case.
It is also clear that a greater number of businesses surveyed in emerging markets (23%) are likely to have deployed big data solutions than those in developed markets (18%). Russia (56%) and South Africa (40%) scored particularly highly in this respect when compared to countries such as Finland (19%) and Italy (19%).
Developed markets are less likely to reap the benefits of big data with nearly half (48%) of businesses currently having no plans to deploy big data, compared with only a third in emerging markets (33%).
Unsurprisingly, with big data and cloud computing rising on the corporate agenda, security and data governance are noted as a major concern for all businesses surveyed across EMEA. This is particularly so for businesses in emerging markets (79%) but is also of key concern for businesses in developed countries (75%).
Overall, security and data governance are of most concern to organisations in Hungary (89%), the Czech Republic (88%) and Morocco (87%) compared with BeLux (26%) and Finland (44%). It seems clear that as businesses wake to the true value of corporate data, security and governance will only increase in importance.
“These results paint a positive picture for EMEA. Businesses surveyed across the region are actively targeting growth and are increasingly using their IT function to enable this,” says Adrian McDonald, president: EMEA at EMC.
“Where once IT was a cost centre, it is now becoming a strategic profit centre. Interestingly, businesses in emerging EMEA markets appear to be progressing with big data technologies at a faster rate than in developed nations. If this trend continues, we expect it to deliver real business advantage to organisations in developing markets, increasing competition across the whole region.”