In our second study gauging technology executives’ focus and perspective in the era of COVID-19, we may be seeing a glimmer of hope that technology’s value is being realized and being viewed as a key element in navigating business challenges and driving business forward. In the current study, 41% of ITDMs anticipate their tech budgets will increase in the next 12 months (bouncing back from 25% in April), and another 35% expect budgets to be stable. But perhaps even more telling, while organizations are cutting expenses in many areas, only 23% anticipate that their tech budgets will be cut, compared with 35% who were expecting such action back in April.

Technology’s bellwether status seems to rely on organizations accelerated need to digitally transform – in fact CEOs’ top priority for IT continues to be to lead digital business/digital transformation initiatives. With employees WFH, entire industries being disrupted, and customers wanting to interact with companies differently, 59% of respondents agree that the effects of the pandemic are accelerating their digital transformation efforts.

The digital business objectives that have greater importance due to COVID-19 include increased operational efficiency (as stated by 64% of respondents), better customer experience (58%), and improved security (53%). While cost control/expense management remains a focus, there is an uptick in focus on redesigning business processes, developing new go-to-market strategies & technologies, and studying market trends/customer needs to identify commercial opportunities.

To accelerate their digital business efforts, companies are increasing their investments in big data/analytics (38%), business process management (33%), mobile devices (33%), artificial intelligence (AI) (32%), and mobile apps (32%). And while the technologies may be readily available, hiring the necessary talent to get the most out of the technologies could be a challenge. Of those organizations who are planning to hire AI technical talent, 41% anticipate having difficulty filling those positions. And that difficulty is not made easier by the barriers of location being removed – only 38% of survey respondents felt that attracting and hiring talent would be easier given organization acceptance of WFH.

COVID-19 continues to change how we work, with the majority of organizations (52%) saying they won’t see employees back in the office in 2020, and organizations are facing the reality that on average only 23% of their workforce needs to be in the office for their business to be fully operational. Oh, those leases that were recently signed!

Emanating from this research, we know that these times demand serious innovation. CIO is announcing The Innovation Reset: Resilience, Endurance, and Renewal – the CIO 100 & AGENDA 20 Virtual Symposium, Conference & Awards. The top CIOs in the country will open their playbooks and share details of innovative programs that solve a broad range of today’s IT challenges. Connect with us to learn about our sponsorship opportunities for this 4-day virtual event held October 6th, 7th, 13th, and 14th.