Motivated by the emergence of COVID-19, digital technology initiatives will serve as a strategic priority for the next two years, followed by customer management and remote work management.

86% of respondents believe that digital technology has a transformative role in addressing strategic priorities, which is why most organizations expect to create a new “Chief Digital Officer” role to respond to COVID-19 in the long term.

Almost half of the CAs anticipate the change in the business model of their organizations as a result of the pandemic

69% of boards (CAs) have accelerated their digital business initiatives following the discontinuation of COVID-19, according to a new survey from Gartner, Inc. Almost half anticipate the change in their organizations’ business model as a result of the pandemic.

The 2021 Gartner Board of Directors survey was conducted through an online survey from May to June 2020 with 265 respondents from the US, EMEA and APAC in the role of board or member of the corporate board. The survey aimed to understand how boards view the evolution of the digital business-based business model in their businesses, along with the role of the CIO and other executive leaders, especially in the context of the COVID-19 crisis.

“The CA plays a strong role in helping the executive management team focus beyond the short-term risks associated with this widespread pandemic,” said Partha Iyengar, senior vice president of research at Gartner. “Technology-based digital transformation can and should be a strong facilitator in addressing employees, customers, the supply chain and the broad brand impact to position the company to emerge stronger from the crisis.”

COVID-19 calls for budgetary changes for boards of directors

Most CAs (67%) expect budget increases in technology as a result of the pandemic, while functional areas such as marketing and human resources are expected to have budget cuts. Respondents expect an increase of almost 7% in IT budgets for 2020 (see Figure 1). “The long-term demand of CAs during COVID-19 is to approve anticipatory investments even in the face of potentially declining revenues and profits,” said Mr Iyengar.

Figure 1. Average budget changes in 2020 due to the impact of COVID-19

Source: Gartner (September 2020)

 

Analysis and artificial intelligence (AI) are expected to become more powerful as game-changing technologies as a result of the pandemic, as businesses rely on them to better implement decision-making in the new remote work environment.

Digital technology initiatives at the top of the CA’s list of business priorities

Motivated by the emergence of COVID-19, digital technology initiatives will serve as a strategic priority for the next two years, followed by customer management and remote work management.

86% of respondents believe that digital technology has a transformative role in addressing strategic priorities, which is why most organizations expect to create a new “Chief Digital Officer” role to respond to COVID-19 in the long term.

“CAs need to take innovative approaches to their governance models by using IT technologies and expertise to tailor the impact the pandemic has on their digital transformation agendas,” Mr Iyengar said.

The partnership between CIO and management

Almost all CAs expect functional leaders to work together during COVID-19. More than half believe that the CIO serves as a partner with senior business leaders, while more than a third look to the CIO to drive digital business issues on their own.

Longer-term renewal is an important area for the Management Board, with 28% of respondents focusing on the “Renewal” phase of the reset strategy. Executive management is less focused on renewal (18%) and more focused on the ‘Respond’ phase, with less than half reporting that it is their main area.

“CIOs and the rest of the executive management team should work with the Board to create a longer-term strategy for revitalizing – and even surviving – after the crisis,” Mr Iyengar said.