CIOs are accelerating digital innovation: Gartner

Top performing enterprises are accelerating digital innovation and spending on emerging technologies to come out stronger, according to Gartner’s annual global survey of CIOs.
Gartner Andy Rowsell-Jones2021 will be a race to digital, with the spoils going to those organizations that can maintain the momentum built up during their response to the pandemic.

“The support for remote work that the COVID-19 pandemic brought on might be the biggest win for CIOs since Y2K. They have the attention of the CEO, they have convinced senior business leaders of the need to modernize technology, and they have prompted boards of directors to accelerate digital business initiatives,” Andy Rowsell-Jones, distinguished research vice president at Gartner, said.

The 2021 Gartner CIO Agenda survey gathered data from 1,877 CIO respondents in 74 countries and all major industries, representing approximately $4.7 trillion in revenue/public-sector budgets and $85 billion in IT spending.

Win Differently

CIOs can help the enterprise anticipate the increasingly digital interactions expected by customers. 76 percent of survey respondents said that demand for new digital products and services increased in 2020, with even more respondents (83 percent) reporting that it will increase in 2021.

Nine out of ten of the top performers are pursuing digital channels, and almost three-quarters are introducing digital products faster.

Organizations that have increased use of digital channels to reach customers are 3.5 times more likely to be a top performer than a trailing performer.

Unleash Force Multipliers

Roughly 70 percent of CIOs deepened their knowledge of specific business processes to advise the business, and the same proportion did more to measure and articulate the value of IT.

CIOs were able to refocus IT leadership around digital business acceleration and remodel the enterprise’s core technology. At one point or another, every CIO got a chance to shine during COVID-19.

Banish Drags

CIOs can help accelerate digital by systemically seeking out and eliminating drags (e.g., detrimental supplier performance during COVID-19). While most respondents reported they were behind in sales volumes during the pandemic, 29 percent of top performers reported a decrease in sales volume versus 45 percent of typicals and 62 percent of trailings.

58 percent of top performers reported increase in demand from new post-COVID customers versus 49 percent for the typical group and 37 percent for those trailing.

Redirect Resources

Survey respondents projected a 2 percent IT budget increase for 2021, on average – slightly down from the 2020 survey (2.8 percent). 63 percent of top performers stated funding for digital innovation has increased. Organizations that have increased their funding of digital innovation are 2.7 times more likely to be a top performer than a trailing performer.

CIOs are Continuing to Prioritize Cybersecurity Investments  

CIOs reported investment shifts toward technologies that support digitalization. 61 percent of respondents are increasing investment in cyber/information security, followed closely by business intelligence and data analytics (58 percent) and cloud services and solutions (53 percent).

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