69% of BoDs accelerated digital business initiatives amidst Covid-19

Digital technology initiatives prove to be top of BoDs’ list of priorities for the next two years, according to the new Gartner research, with 86% stating that technology has a transformational role in addressing strategic business priorities.

With customer engagement and managing the remote workforce coming in second and third highest priorities for BoDs respectively, due to the onset of Covid-19, most organisations are expected to establish a new ‘chief digital officer’ role to aid long-term pandemic response.

Budgetary changes have also been prompted among surveyed boards, with 67% expecting spending on technology to be increased, while budgets for functional areas such as marketing and HR are expected to be cut.

Bar chart showing average budgetary changes in 2020 as a result of Covid-19 impact. Source: Gartner
Average Budgetary Changes in 2020 as a Result of Covid-19 Impact. Source: Gartner

Digital technologies in particular that are expected to emerge stronger post-pandemic are artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics, with these being capable of powering improved decision-making among a remote workforce.

3 tips for supercharging your remote workforce with AI and automation

Craig Nunes, COO of Nebulon, provides three tips for supercharging your remote IT workforce using artificial intelligence (AI) and automation. Read here

“BoDs play a strong role in helping the executive leadership team focus beyond the short-term risks associated with this extended pandemic,” said Partha Iyengar, distinguished research vice president at Gartner.

“Technology-driven digital transformation can, and should be, a strong enabler in addressing employee, customer, supply chain and broad brand impact to position the enterprise to come out of the crisis stronger.

“The long-term ask of BoDs during Covid-19 is to approve forward-looking investments even in the face of potentially plummeting revenue and profits.

“BoDs must take innovative approaches to their governance models by leveraging technologies and IT expertise to accommodate the impacts that the pandemic is thrusting upon their digital transformation agendas.”

Relationships with CIOs

With almost all BoDs expecting business executives to collaborate during the Covid-19 pandemic, almost half believe that CIOs serve as partners with senior business leaders, while over a third look to the CIO to lead digital business issues alone.

While 28% of respondents are focused on the ‘renew’ phase of the reset process, executive management is less focused on renewal (18%) and more focused on the ‘respond’ phase, with just under half reporting it being their core focus area.

“CIOs and the rest of the executive management team should engage with the BoD on creating a longer-term strategy for revival – and even survival – post crisis,” added Iyengar.

The 2021 Gartner Board of Directors Survey, conducted online throughout May and June 2020, saw 265 board members take part from across the US, EMEA and APAC global regions.

Avatar photo

Aaron Hurst

Aaron Hurst is Information Age's senior reporter, providing news and features around the hottest trends across the tech industry.