The influence of the technology leader is on the rise – Harvey Nash/KPMG survey

Covid-19 has led to a rise in the influence of the technology leader, according to technology leadership survey from Harvey Nash and KPMG.

The influence of the technology leader is on the rise.

According to the 2020 Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey, almost two thirds (61%) of 4,200 IT leaders stated that the pandemic has permanently increased the influence of the technology leader.

However, the downward trend for board membership continues from 65% in 2018 to 61% of CIOs, IT Directors and CDOs on the main board in 2020, suggesting technology leaders are finding ways to be relevant and influential without the need for permanent board membership.

Covid-19: The business issues the board wants IT to address

As well as establishing the increasing influence of the technology leader, the survey also identified the business issues the board’s of organisation’s want IT to address.

1. Workforce enablement — in previous years, this has tended to be a mid-ranking priority for technology leaders, but it has jumped to the top three after the onset of Covid-19 (from eighth place before the pandemic) driven by the mass move to remote working. Operational efficiency and customer engagement keep their top positions, but the purpose of these have changed in the light of Covid-19.

2. Digital transformation — for almost half (47%) of IT leaders Covid-19 has permanently accelerated digital transformation and adoption of emerging technology (AI, ML, blockchain and automation).

3. Emerging technologies — small scale implementations of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) have jumped up from 21% before Covid-19 to 24% now, a significant jump in a period of only a few months.

4. Marketplace Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) — This is the big winner compared to 2019. Large-scale implementations more than tripled from 7% in 2019 to 23% this year. One in six organisations put one in place in the last 12 months.

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The rise of remote working and the new way of working

The survey found that remote working is here to stay, with 86% of IT leaders having already moved a significant part of their workforce to remote working, and 43% expect more than half of their employees to work from home after the pandemic.

As a result of remote working, 70% of IT leaders reported an increase in collaboration between the business and technology teams and over half (52%) said that this has created a culture of inclusivity in the technology team.

Work location and remote working has risen to become one of the five most important factors for engaging and retaining key technology talent during, and after, Covid-19.

IT leaders will need to rethink how they attract and engage their employees in a world where physical location is no longer a prime asset.

Diversity still an issue

The levels of women in IT is still an issue, with the gender diversity of technology leaders remaining broadly unchanged from last year’s survey at around 11%.

South America is a leader is a leader in this area compared to the rest of the world, with 16% of its technology leader’s female.

The continent has 60% more female IT leaders than the UK (10%). This survey suggests this could be interpreted as the reward for being a growing hub for female STEM entrepreneurs and actively running multiple programs to get women into the world of technology.

Despite the low level of women in technology leadership roles, 24% of IT leaders feel that their organisation is successful at promoting diversity, and this has improved trust and collaboration in the technology team (67%), access to the right skills (56%) and their teams’ ability to innovate (53%).

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...