CEOs say digital is the top area for investment: Gartner

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CEOs say digital is the top area for investment: Gartner

CEOs are dramatically shifting their strategic priorities, with the workforce moving into a top 3 concern, behind the growth and tech-related issues, and as we reported earlier, environmental sustainability surging massively as a concern moving into the top for the first time.

Boards meanwhile flagged concerns with ransomware vulnerabilities, attracting and retaining talent and the risks from further supply chain disruptions.

Little wonder then that digital remains the top investment priority as identified in the latest Gartner Business Quarterly, which the industry analysts have titled Planning for the Never Normal.

The technology sector is also positioning itself to support new sustainability-driven business thinking. For instance, SAP put it at the heart of its annual Sapphire user conference this year with Daniel Schmid, chief sustainability officer at the German software giant, saying business leaders who do not embed sustainability in their core business strategy are creating a huge risk for their organisations.

The number of CEOs in Gartner's survey who flagged the environment as one of their top 3 concerns grew by 292 percent.

Indeed organisational leaders now see sustainability as a key competitive differentiator, 80 percent of CEOs say they intend to invest, with environmental sustainability identified as a key driver for the need for new and improved products by 40 percent of leaders.

According to the authors, "Such dramatic shifts have only happened once before in the 15-year history of the annual survey — during the 2008-2010 financial crisis when controlling costs rose above growth."

Interestingly, despite all the talk of recession and economic headwinds, the number of CEOs who flagged costs as a key concern actually fell by 24 percent.

Investment rising

Gartner also suggests in its report that the proportion of CEOs increasing investment is rising across the board, in areas including digital capabilities, product enhancements, sales and marketing.

The sharpest investment increase however is in the area of hiring new staff, with the report noting "CEO mentions of “recruitment” and “retention” as workforce priorities tripled and doubled, respectively, compared to last year. Internal talent management efforts such as people development, culture change and employee engagement have taken a back seat. 

When it comes to employment issues, talent retention pips recruitment as the top concern. And for all those desperate commercial property managers hoping their clients will order staff back to the office - think again. Interest in hybrid and remote work - and managing the cultural implications continues to rise.

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