Global political and economic uncertainty create a new breed of digital innovators, Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO survey finds

Global uncertainty create new breed of innovator

Two-thirds (64 percent) of organizations are adapting their technology strategy because of unprecedented global political and economic uncertainty. More than half (52 percent) are investing in more nimble technology platforms to help their organization innovate and adapt. IT budgets are growing: 79% of IT leaders have seen budgets upheld or increased this year, meaning that only one in five IT leaders (21%) have seen IT budgets cut.

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While economic uncertainty is making business planning difficult for many organizations, it is clear digital strategies have infiltrated into businesses across the globe at an entirely new level. The proportion of organizations surveyed that have enterprise-wide digital strategies has increased by 52 percent in the past two years (from 27% in 2015 to 41% in 2017), and those organizations with a Chief Digital Officer have increased 39 percent over last year. To help deliver these complex digital strategies, organizations also report a huge demand for Enterprise Architects - the fastest growing technology skill this year, up 26 percent compared with last year.

Cloud computing has been a trend that has continued during the past year, with respondents investing in cloud less to save money, and more because IT leaders value the reliability, agility and responsiveness that these services bring. Many smaller organizations are turning to the cloud in order to access enhanced stability and resilience compared with in-house operations. Larger organizations, however, more often see the cloud as a means of performance enhancement to improve their agility and responsiveness.

The top three reasons for investing in cloud computing are: To improve availability and resiliency (41 percent), to improve agility and responsiveness (39 percent), to accelerate product innovation (34 percent).“The political and economic landscape is dynamic and changing fast,” said Gabriel Mihai Tănase, Cyber & IT Advisory Director at KPMG in Romania. “Many technology executives have to adapt their strategy and plans, turning this uncertainty into opportunity, driving their organization to become more nimble and digital.”

According to the survey more than a third of all respondents (34 percent) are already investing in, or are planning to invest in, digital labour, including robotic process automation and cognitive automation. This proportion increases to more than six in ten respondents at larger organisations (62 percent), and half of respondents in mid-sized organisations (52 percent) are already investing or planning to invest.

“Many organizations are making aggressive investments in processes automation, implementing digital labour solutions to optimize their processes, improve quality and reduce costs” said Gheorghe Vlad, Senior Manager in KPMG in Romania's IT Advisory department. “For example, using robotic process automation (RPA), they are automating repetitive manual processes, like claims processing and data entry” he continues. 

Cyber security vulnerability is at an all-time high, with a third of IT leaders (32 percent) reporting their organization had been subject to a major cyber-attack in the past 24 months – a 45 percent increase from 2013. Only one in five (21 percent) say they are “very well” prepared to respond to these attacks, down from 29 percent in 2014. Despite visible attacks such as the recent WannaCry ransomware attack, the biggest jump in threats comes from insider attacks, increasing from 40 percent to 48 percent over last year.Large organisations seem to be particularly at risk from cyber attacks. More than half answered that they have suffered a serious attack in the past two years. Worryingly, the Government (44 percent) and Utilities (44 percent) sectors report the highest levels of attack. Least affected are the Charity and Advertising sectors, but even here more than one in five reported a major incident in the past two years.

“In Romania public institutions are more exposed to a cyber attack than private institutions” said Gabriel Tănase, Cyber & IT Advisory Director at KPMG in Romania. “Many public institutions are still using outdated IT infrastructure and operating systems that no longer have adequate technical support. Moreover, although some of them have undergone large upgrade projects, without a comprehensive security strategy (both in deployment and in operation) they are exposed even more to cyber-attacks” he continues.

Additional findings from the 2017 Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey include:

  • Almost one in five CIOs (18 percent) report their organizations have ‘very effective’ digital strategies. CIOs believe that they should be taking an increasing leadership role in innovation. At present, only one in four respondents (26 per cent) report that the CIO is currently leading innovation in their organisations, whereas six in ten respondents (60 per cent) believe that the CIO should be taking a greater leadership role in this area.
  • The number of CIOs who are “very fulfilled” in their role is at a three-year high - rising from 33 percent in 2015 to 39 percent this year. For the first time in a decade, more than seven in ten CIOs (71 percent) believe the CIO’s role is becoming more strategic. 92 percent of CIOs joined a Board meeting in the past 12 months. However, the average time a CIO spends with a company is just five years or less (59 percent), although many want to stay longer.
  • In a striking development, female CIOs are far more likely to have received a salary increase than male CIOs in the past year (42 percent and 32 percent, respectively), but the number of women in IT leadership still remains extraordinarily low at 9 percent, the same as last year.
  • While the fastest growing demand for a technology skill this year was enterprise architecture, big data/analytics remained the most in-demand skill at 42 percent, up 8 percent over last year.
  • Two thirds (61 percent) of CIOs say IT projects are more complex than they were five years ago, and weak ownership (46 percent), an overly optimistic approach (40 percent), and unclear objectives (40 percent) are the main reasons IT projects fail.

About the Survey

The 2017 Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey is the largest IT leadership survey in the world in terms of the number of respondents. The survey of 4,498 CIOs and technology leaders was conducted between December 19, 2016 and April 3, 2017, across 86 countries.

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