Amelia Griggs (Research Intern, European Digital Transformation Practice)
Phil Carter (Group Vice President, European Chief Analyst and WW C-Suite Tech Research Lead)
Erica Spinoni (Research Analyst, European Customer Insights & Analysis)

The pandemic has forced businesses to adapt quickly, become resilient, and adopt progressive strategies, culminating in an acceleration towards their digital destinies. According to IDC research, at 2 out of 3 of European organizations the CEO saw increased pressure to invest in and further strengthen digital transformation projects. IDC’s ongoing research has also identified 5 key focus-points for CEOs as they look ahead to the post-pandemic era.

  1. Execution of more pervasive digital strategies.
  2. Evolving with a learning mindset.
  3. Establishing further “technology” seats at the table.
  4. Empathetic leadership to support and connect.
  5. Emphasis of social responsibility.

Technology appears to underpin all these CEO focuses. In light of the lessons learned from the past year’s unprecedented circumstances, how can technology be used to enhance the business model?

Reassessing Digital Strategies

Tech needs to be more pervasive. Delivering on outcomes, financial and otherwise, is a priority for CEOs, particularly with the emergence of new use cases such as employee experience optimization, health and well-being platforms, contactless payments, no-touch operations and digital identity for work anywhere models, to name a few. All stakeholders — employees, customers, suppliers — have an increased expectation to interact easily and digitally.

The move towards digital resilience, sustainability, and innovation requires CEOs to take advantage of changing conditions. Digital investments must deliver outcomes, particularly purpose value and ecosystem value, and the pandemic has accelerated this pursuit.

Adopting a Learning Mindset

The benefit of experiencing an unprecedented VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous) environment, like the one we find ourselves in now, is that it highlights the necessity for all CEOs to adopt a learning mindset as there is no official guide to thriving, or even surviving, in the pandemic. Gone are the days of comfortable complicity. It has been replaced by an urge to understand technology’s new place at the core of all business functions.

CEOs recognise the importance of clarifying their understanding of the profound reasons for the tech shift so that they can drive digital value into the ecosystem, developing a voracious appetite for learning and increasing technological acumen to facilitate fulfilling their digital destinies.

Technology Leadership’s Time to Shine in the C-Suite

As technology becomes increasingly central to every aspect of business, so does technology leadership in the C-suite. CEOs are acknowledging that IT and business leaders must cooperate and integrate through expansion of the CIO role and increasing relevance of the CTO or CDO roles. IT is shifting away from being a separate department and towards fulfilling a more integral and fundamental role in decision making. There is a need for technology leadership to develop broader business acumen and an appreciation of how technology can be implemented across the board, rather than the narrower consideration of merely IT processes.

In the same vein, all C-suite executives are having to adopt a more technology focused stance. IDC’s research indicates that CEOs are incurring the responsibility to prompt and oversee the transformation of the C-suite into a digital dream team — IT is business and business is a team sport.

Building a People-Centric Leadership Model

The meaning of leadership has changed — the pervasiveness of technologies used to connect teams while remaining physically distant has increased the need for a people-first approach. CEOs are recognising more that disconnected leadership can have alienating effects, and this is the reason behind their focus on building a people-centric leadership approach that engages, empowers, and is fundamentally more empathetic.

There are two essential aspects to this approach — utilising technology to establish a greater sense of community and fostering a compassionate culture of understanding in the face of this pandemic’s health, safety, and well-being issues. The uncertainty of these times calls for particular attention and care in providing a work environment designed to help people flourish, not flounder. While the pandemic has served as a catalyst for this change, transparency throughout an organisation will yield great results regardless.

Social Consciousness in the Board Room

The integration of technology and business is occurring alongside reassessing the role of business in society. Diversity, inclusion, and sustainability will have a continued, if not stronger presence in board room discussions, particularly how technology can be applied to address these key issues. Being socially responsible is not only essential in cultivating the right image and brand but is also inexorably linked to providing a work environment that bolsters productivity and innovation.

Sustainability and diversity are becoming more central to running a business; IDC’s ongoing CEO research reveals that the trend of increased emphasis on these issues will continue in 2021 and beyond as the pandemic continues to foster the rapid shifts in the relationship between business and society.

For more information on how technologies are impacting tech dynamics and decisions, see “C-Suite Tech Dynamics in 2021: New Budgets, roles, and Use Cases“.

 

To learn more about our upcoming research, please contact Amelia Griggs, or head over to https://uk.idc.com and drop your details in the form on the top right.

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