Sunday, 22nd September 2019
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Four in ten companies up R&D spending to take advantage of new technology

Barclaycard’s survey of Chief Information Officers reveals 42 per cent of UK businesses have bolstered research and development, with three-quarters adopting agile working to speed up organisational change.

New research from Barclaycard, which processes nearly half of the nation’s credit and debit card transactions, shows how Chief Information Officers (CIOs) are driving rapid change in UK businesses by seizing the potential of next-generation technologies.

In today’s competitive business environment, organisations recognise the critical role technology innovation plays in achieving their goals. Four in ten companies (42 per cent) have increased R&D spending in the last five years, and over three-quarters (77 per cent) have adopted more agile ways of working so they can be swift in testing new approaches.

To set their companies up for success, CIOs aren’t just considering the potential of new technologies, they are actively embracing them. Three in ten CIOs (30 per cent) say their business is piloting or using Internet of Things (IoT) solutions, with a further 56 per cent planning to implement such projects within the next five years. The main factors attributed to driving this transformation are improved business intelligence (31 per cent) and sales efforts (23 per cent) – with greater connectivity between people and devices cited as a fundamental factor in enhancing operational efficiencies.

Amongst other technology of interest to CIOs is blockchain, which 35 per cent have adopted or are piloting to provide greater transparency and increased security for data. In addition, 45 per cent are using or testing artificial intelligence (AI), with a further four in ten CIOs (43 per cent) planning to adopt AI in the next five years. One in five (20 per cent) are also using or testing quantum computing.

The evolving role of the CIO

Against this backdrop, the CIO’s role is fast evolving as tech leaders take on new responsibilities and are required to collaborate more with others across their organisation. Accordingly, 78 per cent believe today’s CIOs need a broader skill set than they did five years ago, as they focus on meeting wider business goals such as driving growth (53 per cent) or being more accountable for improving customer experience (51 per cent).

As a result, 53 per cent are more aligned with other teams across the business than they were five years ago, while 35 per cent work in closer collaboration with their CEO. Payments are also now a greater focus for four in ten CIOs (42 per cent), with three-quarters (73 per cent) saying payment technology has become an increasingly prominent topic in boardroom discussions. As technology leaders look to generate valuable business insights, 70 per cent would like to have access to more payments data to improve decision-making.

CIOs need access to talent and resources to train existing teams

While CIOs are enthusiastic about the potential of new technologies, they recognise that this rapid pace of change must be supported by continual up-skilling of employees. Over half (55 per cent) are extremely or moderately concerned that the expertise of their teams won’t keep up with the needs of their organisation. A similar proportion (51 per cent) are worried they won’t be able to recruit enough employees with the right technical skills after Brexit.

However, significant progress has been made already to bridge an impending skills gap, with 72 per cent of CIOs saying colleagues across the business are more tech-savvy than five years ago. A similar proportion – 71 per cent – claim their C-Suite colleagues are now more knowledgeable about technology issues.

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