CEOs are looking to leverage technology for business growth this year: Gartner

Nurdianah Md Nur

CEOs and senior business executives are planning to leverage technology to propel business growth this year, according to findings from the 2014 Gartner CEO and Senior Executive Survey.

Canvassing the opinions of 410 senior business leaders worldwide, the survey revealed that a third of the respondents selected growth as their top business priority for this year. "In 2014, growth almost equals the sum of the next three issues on the list of top strategic business priorities," said Mark Raskino, vice president and Gartner Fellow.

In line with this finding, respondents ranked front-office technology-related capabilities that could potentially help sales and marketing departments as their most important technology investments over the next five years. There was also a strong interest in basing business operations in the cloud, and using data-driven decision-making through business analytics, big data and data science.

On the other hand, technologies that are geared towards improving back-office efficiency, such as business process outsourcing and electronic service enablement, were found to be ranked lowly by senior leaders.

CIOs to lead the digital change
Even though the term "digital" has been around for at least a decade, many business leaders are lagging behind in their understanding of what digital business means, and the disruptions that are ahead of them. "A decade of believing that IT was a commodity function, to be mostly outsourced, has left many business leaders in a position of relative weakness," said Raskino. "Their vision and knowledge of the changes that technology makes possible are not strong enough... and their abilities in making deep, technology-enabled business change happen are not well practiced."

According to the survey, CEOs are aware of this knowledge gap and believe that CIOs are the right people to lead their companies' digital innovation and change over the next two years. This is unexpected as CIOs were usually seen as "IT cost managers and service quality assurers."

Even though this changing expectation indicates that CEOs now perceive the CIO as an innovator and a key business strategy contributor, Gartner predicts that not all CIOs will be happy with it. "Expecting the CIO to be the prime mover in digital is a fairly sudden and major change of expectation and emphasis... which is likely to lead to some disappointments and we expect that in turn to lead to some churn in the role," said Raskino.