Gartner Research

Executive Pulse: Tech and Data Investment Priorities for 2021

Published: 09 July 2020


Here’s a roll-up of pandemic-related executive sentiment and insights from thousands of functional leaders across the C-suite.

Fast word on tactics and concerns from thousands participating in our conference calls andpolls.

More detailed role-specific reports may be available on the website, depending on your subscription.

In a survey of over 300 senior product managers across North America, Europe and the Asia/Pacific region, we asked about investment decisions affected by COVID-19 …

  • A quarter are predicting an increase in data and analytics spending.

  • Sixty-seven percent see these investments staying about the same.

  • Just 8% predict them to fall.

The respondents, (who mainly work in technology and business services, software, and cloud services) also predict the pandemic’s investment impact on ...

  • Development and engineering, where 21% predict a rise and 70% expect no change.

  • Services and support, where 20% predict a rise and 71% expect no change.

Overall, levels of anticipated investment remain fairly stable across the range of spending categories:

Figure 1. Tech Product Manager Investment Decisions Affected by COVID-19

Heading into next year, Data & Analytics (D&A) will continue to play an important role during the recovery process by providing insight into cost saving opportunities, new revenue streams and risk management.

In a separate global survey of almost 100 IT and D&A leaders across a full range of industries, more than a quarter (26%) expect a budget increase, despite the current economic turbulence.

  • 61% say they expect D&A spending to stay about the same.

  • Only 13% forecast a decrease.

Similarly, 58% don’t think COVID-19 will have any direct implications for D&A investment planning in 2021.

  • 19% expect it will lead to more spending.

  • 24% believe it will have a dampening impact.

Figure 2. Most Predict Minimal Impact of COVID-19 on Domain’s FY21 D&A Budget

These leaders want to help the business adapt by increasing D&A spend to ...

  • Improve process efficiency (40%)

  • Enhance the customer experience (35%)

  • Reduce risk (33%)

  • Improve employee efficiency (31%)

  • Automate decision making (28%)

  • Develop new products (26%)

Figure 3. COVID-19 Focuses Budget Increases on Efficiencies, Customer Experience and Risk Reduction

In addition to more robust investments in data analytics, organizations can also use existing technology and datasets to strengthen decision making…

The shipping company Purolator wanted to improve its management of long-term projects during the crisis. To help, CIO Ricardo Costa created a project tracking tool in Microsoft Teams using the planner function. The system is designed to:

  • Provide leadership with line-of-sight into ongoing projects

  • Avoid duplication of effort

  • Support priority undertakings

  • Help anticipate unforeseen implications of starting, stopping or accelerating projects

Here’s how it works:

  • The planner is controlled by a cross-functional group of 20 initiative owners dubbed the “Executive Pandexit” team, which is leading the crisis response.

  • They enter any new projects and those put on hold, placing priority activities on the left side of the screen.

  • Other columns are labeled “sprints” to indicate short term phases. They include information about project owners, due dates, priority ratings, progress status and notes.

Using the tool, the group considers which projects should be scrapped entirely or restarted. For example, the team shelved an HR project to increase recruitment from top universities in favor of initiatives aimed at maintaining productivity, health and safety within its workforce.

Compiled by Daniel Ryntjes

Contact with any questions or comments.

Recommended by the Authors

The impacts of COVID-19 need a cross-functional response. Access all of our research to help your partners in assurance, supply chain, HR, IT and others act quickly and confidently. You’ll find tips, toolkits and other planning advice.

Cost optimization can be risky. The wrong moves can result in cuts that impede an organization’s ability to maintain liquidity, retain key talent, keep innovating and prepare for recovery. We’ve provided the research and tools to help leaders make data-driven decisions supported by proven approaches.


Corporate Strategy Research Team

Access Research

Already a Gartner client?

To view this research and much more, become a client.

Speak with a Gartner specialist to learn how you can access peer and practitioner research backed by proprietary data, insights, advice and tools to help you achieve stronger performance.

By clicking the "Continue" button, you are agreeing to the Gartner Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

Gartner research: Trusted insight for executives and their teams

What is Gartner research?

Gartner research, which includes in-depth proprietary studies, peer and industry best practices, trend analysis and quantitative modeling, enables us to offer innovative approaches that can help you drive stronger, more sustainable business performance.

Gartner research is unique, thanks to:

Independence and objectivity

Our independence as a research firm enables our experts to provide unbiased advice you can trust.

Actionable insights

Not only is Gartner research unbiased, it also contains key take-aways and recommendations for impactful next steps.

Proprietary methodologies

Our research practices and procedures distill large volumes of data into clear, precise recommendations.

Gartner research is just one of our many offerings.

We provide actionable, objective insight to help organizations make smarter, faster decisions to stay ahead of disruption and accelerate growth.

Tap into our experts

We offer one-on-one guidance tailored to your mission-critical priorities.

Pick the right tools and providers

We work with you to select the best-fit providers and tools, so you avoid the costly repercussions of a poor decision.

Create a network

Connect directly with peers to discuss common issues and initiatives and accelerate, validate and solidify your strategy.

Experience Gartner Conferences

Join your peers for the unveiling of the latest insights at Gartner conferences.

©2022 Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved. Gartner is a registered trademark of Gartner, Inc. and its affiliates. This publication may not be reproduced or distributed in any form without Gartner’s prior written permission. It consists of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization, which should not be construed as statements of fact. While the information contained in this publication has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, Gartner disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of such information. Although Gartner research may address legal and financial issues, Gartner does not provide legal or investment advice and its research should not be construed or used as such. Your access and use of this publication are governed by Gartner’s Usage Policy. Gartner prides itself on its reputation for independence and objectivity. Its research is produced independently by its research organization without input or influence from any third party. For further information, see Guiding Principles on Independence and Objectivity.