Analysts from research firm Gartner expect chief information officers (CIOs) in Asia to play a more integral role in transforming their companies' business processes with the use of IT this year, compared to their counterparts in North America.Mark McDonald, group vice president and head of research, Gartner executive programs, said such a scenario would likely occur due to the relatively compact corporate hierarchies in Asia. Results from a recent Gartner survey showed 54 per cent of CIOs in Asia report directly to the chief executive officer (CEO), compared to just 38 per cent worldwide. Seventy-five per cent of CIOs in Asia also reported having responsibilities outside of IT."In Asia, it's not unlikely to find a CIO who comes to the job from some other part of the business," said McDonald. "Executives teams here have the tendency to know each other very well, and we find that CIOs in Asia Pacific are much more business-savvy than in North America," said McDonald.Gartner surveyed 1,527 CIOs worldwide, from September 2008 to December 2008. Seventy-one respondents were from countries in Asia, such as Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and the Philippines.Budget growth and useThe survey also showed that CIOs in Asia expect their IT budgets to grow this year, despite challenging operating conditions. CIOs in Asia expect an IT budget increase of 5.32 per cent, compared to the global figure of 0.16 per cent.CIOs will need to utilise their IT budgets to restructure the organisation, McDonald said. "Enterprises expect IT to contribute results in an uncertain economy. This is more true in Asia, where CIOs plan to allocate 24 per cent of their budget to growing the business and 20 per cent to transforming the business. "CIOs in Asia listed business process improvement, cutting enterprise costs and improving enterprise workforce effectiveness as their top business goals for the year."CIOs today are going back and fundamentally rethinking and restructuring what IT is about," said McDonald. "And the reason behind this need to restructure and change IT is because the challenges we all face can be summed up in two very important words: volatility and uncertainty."Technology prioritiesAccording to the survey, CIOs will continue to invest in technologies outside of core infrastructure. CIOs in Asia ranked business intelligence applications, enterprise applications (ERP, CRM and others) and collaboration technologies as the top three technology investments to make for the year.Gartner said such investments are "expected to pay extra dividends by responding to new regulatory and financial reporting requirements".