Tech optimism abounds – yet priorities are confused in 2018

Written by Mark Evans

In a survey of technology across all sectors, cyber security, adapting to changing customer needs, and digital capabilities are the top three priorities - and have all increased in importance since last year.

The results come in a survey exploring business leaders’ mindsets conducted by consultants North Highland in its Beacon 2018 report. Surveying more than 600 senior level employees in energy, financial services, healthcare, retail, and media, entertainment, and telecom at companies with 2016 revenues in excess of USD1 billion and operations across the globe, the results point the issue all companies will need to deal with in the year ahead..

Cyber security was the top priority by far for all respondents, with 58 per cent citing it is “very high.” Cyber security also saw the highest change in importance, with 46 per cent stating it is much more important for the coming year. However, it was also the only area that was seen as having no “definite competitive advantage.”

Despite being recognized as the top business priority, the fact that less than a third of respondents see cyber security as a competitive advantage speaks to the recognition that security has become a “table stakes” initiative, or a must-do irrespective of cost or business advantage. That only 39 per cent see cyber security as attainable and 34 per cent feel “very prepared” to address it is a clear indicator that businesses are struggling to address even their most critical business objectives.

Adapting to changing customer needs, customer centricity, and transforming to be more efficient were all cited by respondents as important, attainable, and a “definite” competitive advantage. However, on average less than 35 per cent feel very prepared to address them.

Digital capabilities were also seen as increasing in importance and more than half of respondents (52 per cent) cited it a “definite” competitive advantage. Companies feel only moderately prepared to address digitisation (34 per cent citing they are very prepared). In parallel, AI grows more important (41 per cent) and is cited as a “definite” competitive advantage (59 per cent), yet it is not ranked highly as an overall strategic priority.

The reported exuberance over current and forecasted performance, plus a clear ability to discern goals, is tempered by the fact that the top priorities ranked only moderately in terms of attainability (between 37 per cent and 45 per cent “very attainable”). Further, each ranked relatively low in terms of preparedness to address these goals (between 31 and 39 per cent “very prepared” to address). This suggests business leaders have their work cut out for them, if they are to capitalise on business momentum.

Fuller Report.