CEOs priorities shifting to embrace digital business: Gartner

As per Gartner, growth, corporate strategies, IT and workforce issues continue to top CEO priorities in 2018

CEOs priorities shifting to embrace digital business: Gartner - CIO&Leader

Growth is amongst the top CEO business priorities in 2018 and 2019, according to a recent survey of CEOs and senior executives by Gartner. However, the survey revealed as simple, implemental growth becomes harder to achieve, CEOs are focusing on changing and upgrading the structure of their companies, including a deeper understanding of digital business.

The Gartner 2018 CEO and Senior Business Executive Survey of 460 CEO and senior business executives in Q4, 2017 examined their business issues, as well as some areas of technology agenda impact. In total, 460 business leaders in organizations with more than USD 50 million in annual revenue were qualified and surveyed.

IT remains a high priority coming in at the third position, and CEOs mention digital transformation, in particular (see Figure 1). Workforce has risen rapidly this year to become the fourth-biggest priority, up from seventh in 2017. The number of CEOs mentioning workforce in their top three priorities rose from 16% to 28%. When asked about the most significant internal constraints to growth, employee and talent issues were at the top. CEOs said a lack of talent and workforce capability is the biggest inhibitor of digital business progress.

CEOs recognize the need for cultural change

Culture change is a key aspect of digital transformation. The 2018 Gartner CIO Survey found CIOs agreed it was a very high-priority concern, but only 37% of CEOs said a significant or deep culture change is needed by 2020. However, when companies that have a digital initiative underway are compared with those that don’t, the proportion in need of culture change rose to 42%.

Digital business matters to CEOs

Survey respondents were asked whether they have a management initiative or transformation program to make their business more digital. The majority (62%) said they did. Of those organizations, 54% said that their digital business objective is transformational while 46% said the objective of the initiative is optimization.

In the background, CEOs’ use of the word “digital” has been steadily rising. When asked to describe their top five business priorities, the number of respondents mentioning the word digital at least once has risen from 2.1% in the 2012 survey to 13.4% in 2018. This positive attitude toward digital business is backed up by CEOs’ continuing intent to invest in IT. 61% of respondents intend to increase spending on IT in 2018, while 32% plan to make no changes to spending and only 7% foresee spending cuts.

More CEOs see their companies as innovation pioneers

The 2018 CEO survey showed that the percentage of respondents who think their company is an innovation pioneer has reached a high of 41% (up from 27% in 2013), with fast followers not far behind at 37%.


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