Will CIO budgets weather the economic storm?

By Thapelo Rapetswa, Government and Service Provider business Director at Westcongroup Southern Africa

There are many things that affect a CIO’s budget, among which is the company or department’s financial health, the industry in which it operates and of course, the state of the economy. In the last month, many South Africans have been in hysterics over the plummeting value of the rand, which is sure to affect every industry and government department in our country in some way or another – as technology simply becomes more expensive.


What public and private sector CIOs need to focus on at this time is that they use their budgets wisely. What I mean by this is that during the allocation of IT budget, CIOs need to balance what is needed to keep the department running like expanding existing systems, with what will need to be done to keep pace with customer / citizen demands, such as exploring opportunities for digital transformation.


According to, the pressure on all IT departments to save money has not changed. They are still, “expected to deliver value for money by minimising capital expenditure and operational costs wherever possible.”  So you can see why the suffering economy would be a worry.


So how does the CIO prioritise spending during a dismal economic slump? According to an article on when the IT budget is stretched, it is time to take stock of what you already have. Put “nice to have” projects on the back burner and be tactical about IT spending and staffing decisions. If you make rash decisions without the necessary information then you may waste precious IT budget on things that you don’t need, or go in the completely wrong direction.


Now, there are businesses and government departments that will feel the strain of the weakening rand more than others but that’s not to say that this isn’t the perfect time for all departments to assess their IT spending choices. Investing wisely during a dark economic time will ensure a brighter future in the long-term.


It is also advantageous that we are at a time in IT in where IT leaders can add real value to budget planning, especially in the face of the imminent digital-first world. So will CIO budgets make it through the turmoil? It all about making smart choices, and ultimately that rests with you, the CIO, no matter if you are in government or in the private sector.


In other news:

What South Africans think about the economy

2016 to be worse for SA - IMF

Africa’s economic prospects in 2016: Looking for silver linings



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