February 11, 2021 By IBM Consulting 3 min read

2020 was a year of unprecedented disruption. The COVID-19 pandemic alone cost businesses millions in managing IT demands. And despite an overall acceleration toward digital transformation, a recent survey[1] found that 60% of corporate IT leaders still say their organizations are not prepared to meet future IT needs.

IBM Managed Infrastructure Services surveyed 380 CIOs and CTOs in an effort to better understand how the roles within the c-suite have evolved, and how they are preparing their teams and infrastructure to weather disruption in the future.

IT roles are gaining traction with the c-suite

With 84% of respondents saying the pandemic boosted their profile among top leadership, there’s no doubt that the roles of CIO and CTO have gained serious traction. This elevated visibility presents a great opportunity for continued transformation.

“Most CIOs inherit an organization that has some amount of technical debt, investments tied up for the coming years and an organizational structure of how things are done,” said Archana Vemulapalli, CTO and General Manager, IBM Infrastructure Services. “To drive tech modernization, there needs to be an aligned view and full support from the CEO, COO and CFO to achieve accelerated transformation.”

IT leaders are assembling the right people and skills 

Many believe the IT changes driven by COVID-19 will be permanent. Among the most important changes, respondents identified an increased demand for creative IT problem solving, increased demand for high-skilled IT team members and increased demand for remote work.

“To be a truly digital company requires a cultural and business model overhaul,” said Vemulapalli. “This is, in part, what slows down the tech modernization efforts. Lines of business need to be ready to embrace and redefine the organization based on how technology can serve them, versus how they use technology.”

Looking ahead, CIOs and CTOs plan to prioritize the following skills in their teams:

  • Security and privacy, with 51% calling it priority skill for new hires
  • Cloud development
  • Cloud implementation
  • Creative problem solving
  • Data science and analytics
  • Cloud architecture
  • Cloud certifications

Managed services can help prepare infrastructure for the future

Nearly a quarter of CIOs and CTOs surveyed say their company’s IT modernization journey has just begun, while about a third said they are still in the midst of transformation.

As a result, corporate technology leaders are moving rapidly to advance their transition to cloud—95% of those surveyed said they are looking to adopt public, hybrid or private cloud strategies, and many are moving at an aggressive pace. While cost savings was often cited as the driving factor, survey respondents also valued flexibility, competitive advantage and globalization in their consideration.

More than 60% of technology leaders surveyed say they expect increased demand for cloud infrastructure to be permanent. Survey respondents identified managed cloud investments as one of the most important factors that allowed companies to better manage the impacts of COVID-19. More than three in four surveyed say they will rely more on managed infrastructure services from a trusted provider to meet IT needs in the future.

When asked what capabilities they will expect from their managed services providers in 2021, the results were similarly all cloud capabilities:

  • Cloud development
  • Privacy and security
  • Cloud implementation
  • Cloud certifications
  • Data science and analytics
  • Cloud architecture

“Our clients are looking to accelerate IT modernization by leveraging cloud models—both public and hybrid, data, AI, automation and other key technologies to help shape, scale and manage more effectively massive, complex, global architectures,” said Vemulapalli. “In this rapidly changing digital business environment, organizations can bring in the right technology and the right partners to help aggregate, integrate, build and maintain a scalable digital business, while also enforcing effective governance.”

[1] The State of IT Transformation, IBM Managed Infrastructure Services, December 2020

Methodology: The study was conducted online by Teneo Research, between 19 November 2020 and 1 December 2020. IBM Managed Infrastructure Services surveyed 380 CIOs and CTOs at mid-sized (USD 50 million – USD 999 million in annual revenue) and large corporations (USD 1 billion or more in annual revenue) in the United States and the United Kingdom.

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