Gartner: CEO Priorities Shifting to Embrace Digital Business
May 03, 2018
Share this

Growth tops the list of CEO business priorities in 2018 and 2019, according to a recent survey of CEOs and senior executives by Gartner, Inc. However, the survey found that as simple, implemental growth becomes harder to achieve, CEOs are concentrating on changing and upgrading the structure of their companies, including a deeper understanding of digital business.

"Although growth remains the CEO's biggest priority, there was a significant fall in simple mentions of it this year, from 58 percent in 2017 to just 40 percent in 2018. This does not mean CEOs are less focused on growth, instead it shows that they are shifting perspective on how to obtain it," said Mark Raskino, VP and Gartner Fellow. "The 'corporate' category, which includes actions such as new strategy, corporate partnerships and mergers and acquisitions, has risen significantly to become the second-biggest priority."

The Gartner 2018 CEO and Senior Business Executive Survey of 460 CEO and senior business executives in the fourth quarter of 2017 examined their business issues, as well as some areas of technology agenda impact. In total, 460 business leaders in organizations with more than $50 million in annual revenue were qualified and surveyed.

IT remains a high priority coming in at the third position, and CEOs mention digital transformation, in particular. Workforce has risen rapidly this year to become the fourth-biggest priority, up from seventh in 2017. The number of CEOs mentioning workforce in their top three priorities rose from 16 percent to 28 percent. When asked about the most significant internal constraints to growth, employee and talent issues were at the top. CEOs said a lack of talent and workforce capability is the biggest inhibitor of digital business progress.


CEOs Recognize Need for Cultural Change

Culture change is a key aspect of digital transformation. The 2018 Gartner CIO Survey found CIOs agreed it was a very high-priority concern, but only 37 percent of CEOs said a significant or deep culture change is needed by 2020. However, when companies that have a digital initiative underway are compared with those that don't, the proportion in need of culture change rose to 42 percent.

"These survey results show that if a company has a digital initiative, then the recognized need for culture change is higher," said Raskino. "The most important types of cultural change that CEOs intend to make include making the culture more proactive, collaborative, innovative, empowered and customer-centric. They also highly rate a move to a more digital and tech-centric culture."

Digital Business Matters to CEOs

Survey respondents were asked whether they have a management initiative or transformation program to make their business more digital. The majority (62 percent) said they did. Of those organizations, 54 percent said that their digital business objective is transformational while 46 percent said the objective of the initiative is optimization.

In the background, CEOs' use of the word "digital" has been steadily rising. When asked to describe their top five business priorities, the number of respondents mentioning the word digital at least once has risen from 2.1 percent in the 2012 survey to 13.4 percent in 2018. This positive attitude toward digital business is backed up by CEOs' continuing intent to invest in IT. Sixty-one percent of respondents intend to increase spending on IT in 2018, while 32 percent plan to make no changes to spending and only seven percent foresee spending cuts.

More CEOs See Companies as Innovation Pioneers

The 2018 CEO survey showed that the percentage of respondents who think their company is an innovation pioneer has reached a high of 41 percent (up from 27 percent in 2013), with fast followers not far behind at 37 percent.

"CIOs should leverage this bullish sentiment by encouraging their business leaders into making "no way back" commitments to digital business change," Raskino concluded. "However, superficial digital change can be a dangerous form of self-deceit. The CEO's commitment must be grounded in deep fundamentals, such as genuine customer value, a real business model concept and disciplined economics."

Share this

The Latest

May 26, 2020

Nearly 3,700 people told GitLab about their DevOps journeys. Respondents shared that their roles are changing dramatically, no matter where they sit in the organization. The lines surrounding the traditional definitions of dev, sec, ops and test have blurred, and as we enter the second half of 2020, it is perhaps more important than ever for companies to understand how these roles are evolving ...

May 21, 2020

As cloud computing continues to grow, tech pros say they are increasingly prioritizing areas like hybrid infrastructure management, application performance management (APM), and security management to optimize delivery for the organizations they serve, according to SolarWinds IT Trends Report 2020: The Universal Language of IT ...

May 20, 2020

Businesses see digital experience as a growing priority and a key to their success, with execution requiring a more integrated approach across development, IT and business users, according to Digital Experiences: Where the Industry Stands ...

May 19, 2020

Fully 90% of those who use observability tooling say those tools are important to their team's software development success, including 39% who say observability tools are very important ...

May 18, 2020

As our production application systems continuously increase in complexity, the challenges of understanding, debugging, and improving them keep growing by orders of magnitude. The practice of Observability addresses both the social and the technological challenges of wrangling complexity and working toward achieving production excellence. New research shows how observable systems and practices are changing the APM landscape ...

May 14, 2020
Digital technologies have enveloped our lives like never before. Be it on the personal or professional front, we have become dependent on the accurate functioning of digital devices and the software running them. The performance of the software is critical in running the components and levers of the new digital ecosystem. And to ensure our digital ecosystem delivers the required outcomes, a robust performance testing strategy should be instituted ...
May 13, 2020

The enforced change to working from home (WFH) has had a massive impact on businesses, not just in the way they manage their employees and IT systems. As the COVID-19 pandemic progresses, enterprise IT teams are looking to answer key questions such as: Which applications have become more critical for working from home? ...

May 12, 2020

In ancient times — February 2020 — EMA research found that more than 50% of IT leaders surveyed were considering new ITSM platforms in the near future. The future arrived with a bang as IT organizations turbo-pivoted to deliver and support unprecedented levels and types of services to a global workplace suddenly working from home ...

May 11, 2020

The Internet of Things (IoT) is changing the world. From augmented reality advanced analytics to new consumer solutions, IoT and the cloud are together redefining both how we work and how we engage with our audiences. They are changing how we live, as well ...

May 07, 2020

Despite IT professionals' confidence in their ability to support today's much greater dependence on digital services, there is a rise in application performance errors reported by more than half of consumers, according to the Impact of COVID-19 on Digital Transformation survey from xMatters ...