COVID-19 Accelerates Digital Strategy Initiatives

COVID-19 has created an urgent need for organizations to accelerate their digitalization efforts.

Sixty-nine percent of boards of directors say that the effects of the pandemic crisis, the economic crisis and the social crisis are accelerating digital business initiatives, according to the Gartner Board of Directors Survey, conducted in May and June 2020. 

Before the pandemic, most organizations moved their digital strategies forward at a steady pace. Leaders either wanted proof of success and didn’t feel great urgency to invest more in digital or the organizational culture seemed resistant.

But when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, many employees started to work remotely and organizations ramped up digital engagement with customers. Surveyed corporate directors increased the development of digital products and services to maintain and accelerate their customer engagement, and help them reach their revenue growth targets. 

The Gartner Board of Directors Survey finds that 7 in 10 boards of directors have accelerated digital business in the wake of COVID-19 disruption.

The way forward for them was to increase, rather than decrease, the speed of their digital business initiatives and to elevate funding for IT to support this acceleration.

The survey found that 87% of corporate directors deemed technology as having a transformational role in addressing strategic business priorities. Sixty-seven percent of corporate directors expected budgetary increases in technology, and the majority of them anticipated a 6.9% increase in their current IT budgets as a result of the acceleration.

Why is digital strategy acceleration important now?

Digital business acceleration is important now for three reasons:

  • COVID-19. The pandemic demonstrated the value of digital initiatives in e-commerce, deliveries, supply chain virtualization, process automation and other activities, especially where physical activities were no longer possible.
  • Costs and operations. The recession has driven the need to overhaul costs and streamline operations.
  • Results. The rapid responses to the pandemic make accelerating digital business seem feasible and also critical for the survival of a company.

Boards of directors position the CIO as a partner in digital strategy 

To respond to this crisis and its aftermath, the role of the CIO as an advisor to the board on digital business issues will also increasingly change. More than half of boards of directors said that CIOs will serve as partners with senior business leaders, while over a third look to the CIO to lead digital business issues alone.

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Recommended reading for Gartner clients*: Survey Analysis: Board Directors Say Pandemic Drives Increased Investments in IT by Partha Iyengar, et al.

*Note that some documents may not be available to all Gartner clients.

 

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