Press Release


STAMFORD, Conn., October 21, 2021

Gartner Says 57% of Boards of Directors Are Increasing their Risk Appetite into 2022

Economic Uncertainty, Competitive Threats and Cost Inflation Cited as the Biggest Risks to Business Performance

Fifty-seven percent of Boards of Directors (BoDs) have increased or expect to increase their risk appetite heading into 2022, according to a new survey from Gartner, Inc. BoDs cite economic uncertainty (38%), disruptive business models from competitors (35%) and cost inflation due to supply shortages (28%) as the top risks to business performance.

The results of the survey were presented during Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo Americas, which is taking place virtually through today. The 2022 Gartner Board of Directors Survey was conducted via an online survey from May through June 2021 among 273 respondents in the U.S., Europe and APAC in a board of director role or a member of the corporate board of directors.

“During the pandemic, BoDs recognized that they needed to become comfortable operating in an environment of significant risk, as standing still was not an option,” said Partha Iyengar, distinguished research vice president at Gartner. “This drove them to embrace the ‘try fast, fail fast approach,’ and into 2022, BoDs will continue taking risks such as making technology investment decisions with incomplete information or making financial bets without up-front visibility around a guaranteed return.”

Digital Technology Remains a Top Priority

BoDs remain highly committed to digital technology initiatives, which was ranked as a top strategic business priority by 58% of survey respondents. However, this is a slight decrease from the 2021 survey (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: BoD’s Top 7 Strategic Business Priorities for 2022/2023

Source: Gartner (October 2021)

“Having invested so much in digital business over the past 12 to 18 months, enterprises are taking a pause to validate their strategy and ensure ROI,” said Iyengar. “For BoDs, the core focus is now on technology integration and creating a more enduring and systemic digital economic architecture, where technology is infused throughout the business and drives business outcomes.”

The survey found that 64% of BoDs have attempted to alter their enterprise economic structure to a more digital economic architecture – meaning they are changing their capital allocation and governance approaches to accommodate digital investments. As examples, 40% of BoDs have moved digital business-related budgets to business functions, rather than a central technology or IT budget; one-third are changing the metrics used to evaluate ROI from digital investments.

While Boards are shifting focus to the role of technology beyond IT, CIOs remain visible as a key partner in BoDs’ digital initiatives. One third (34%) of BoDs report having a formally constituted IT, digital or technology subcommittee, and the vast majority (94%) among them include the CIO or CTO as a member.

Workforce and Social Issues a Rising Focus

Workforce issues were among the top strategic priorities for 52% of BoDs, representing an 86% increase in interest over the 2021 survey.

“Workforce concerns are closely linked with technology transformation,” said Iyengar. “As enterprises accelerate their digital business initiatives, issues such as the IT skills shortage, the need to create a digitally agile workforce and culture transformation become that much more critical.”

Environmental, social and governance (ESG), health and sustainability rounded out the top three BoD priorities, up by 100% from last year. The survey found that 30% of BoDs report that their organization publicly engages in leading social or political issues, while nearly half of BoDs (45%) have diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) on their board meeting agenda at every board meeting or quarterly.

Gartner clients can read more in "Roadmap to Renewal: The 2022 Board of Directors Survey." Learn more in the complimentary Gartner webinar “Roadmap to Renewal: Insights from the 2022 Board of Directors Survey.”

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