Chief Content Officer,
Techstrong Group

A survey of 2,414 senior executives published today by SAS shows less than half (47%) view their organizations as being resilient, with 46% reporting they are not fully equipped to face disruption and are falling short of addressing their top challenges that include data security (48%), productivity (47%) and technology innovation (46%).

Top challenges identified by survey respondents include driving digital transformation (53%), the economic downturn (53%), Attracting and retaining talent (51%) and achieving sustainability goals (51%).

One of the primary reasons any organization invests in digital transformation is, of course, resiliency. In the way of the COVID-19 pandemic and the supply chain issues that followed, there’s a greater appreciation for resiliency. The SAS survey finds most executives view resiliency as a business imperative (97%) with 87% noting it helps prepare for unforeseen events. A full 81% said they value resiliency more today than in 2020, with 51% reporting they perpetually think about how to build resiliency.

Most business leaders (88%) noted they are also confident about increasing resiliency in their companies in the future, but their organization needs guidance in implementing an effective resiliency strategy (81%).

Major areas of focus include ensuring organization performance (89%) and technology functionality (88%) can be restored more rapidly, reducing the impact of crises by enabling organizations to anticipate and cushion against shocks (88%) and increasing market share by ensuring systems and organizational culture can adapt to changing market conditions (87%).

Obstacles to achieving those goals include fostering curiosity among workforce (59%), finding data scientists (54%), being overwhelmed by data (35%) and accessing skilled talent for innovation (31%).

Specific technology issues of concern include data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) at 68%, followed by cybersecurity (52%) and cloud computing (49%). More than two-thirds of respondents said their organization is already employing AI to varying degrees to improve speed and agility.

As businesses in general become more dependent on IT to achieve goals, the role of IT leaders has fundamentally changed, notes SAS CIO Jay Upchurch. The CIO in particular has become a facilitator for achieving goals rather than a central point for controlling all IT spending with an organization, he adds.

The overall goal is to create centers of excellence that encourage business units to work with a centralized IT function without requiring mandates, notes Upchurch. Business units should prefer to use those centralized IT services of their own accord rather than being forced, he adds. “It’s not as much a control function,” says Upchurch.

That is critical for success because many of the business leaders that IT leaders work with today are much savvier about IT issues so they have a better understanding of the tradeoffs that might need to be made when adopting for one strategy over another, adds Upchurch.

After several years of business units taking more control over IT spending, it’s apparent that organizations are now trying to strike a balance. Digital business transformation initiatives typically span multiple business units, so the need for IT leaders and digital transformation officers to collaborate effectively is crucial. The challenge and the opportunity now is to once and for all bridge the historic divide that has existed between IT and the rest of the business at a time when organizations have never been more dependent on technology to survive and thrive.