What do CEOs expect from technology in 2015?

"CEOs are right to be concerned."

Most CEOs expect positive business conditions and accelerating technology innovation in 2015, according to a recent survey by Gartner.

The 2015 Gartner CEO and senior business executive survey found that growth remains a top priority and technology-related change is viewed as the primary tool to achieve that growth in 2015 and 2016.

In carrying out a survey of 400 senior business leaders in user organisations worldwide, most responding organisations were those with annual revenue of $1 billion or more.

As a result, the survey results show that business conditions are good — though not spectacular — and stability is good enough to enable strategic investments.

"Each year we ask CEOs to state their top five business priorities and this year growth was once again the top priority," says Mark Raskino, vice president and Gartner fellow.

"However, explicit mentions of growth were down from last year. We attribute this decline not to less interest in growth, but rather to increasing interest in the mechanism that will create it.

"The second-most-important category of business priority for 2015 and 2016 is technology related.

"This is the highest position we have ever seen for technology in this survey and it's our firm belief that CEOs are more focused on this area than at any time since 1999.

"When we examine the subtext of the responses, the purpose of CEOs' interest in technology becomes immediately obvious.

"Over half of the responses relate to revenue- and growth-related technology issues such as multichannel, e-commerce and m-commerce."

Raskino says customer-facing and analytics capabilities remain in the foreground for most of the survey respondents.

When it comes to top technology investments over the next five years, 37 percent of respondents ranked customer engagement management (CEM) as the leading technology-enabled business capability, followed by digital marketing at 32 percent and business analytics at 28 percent.

Cloud-based business also now has high recognition, as CEOs come to realize that the cloud is where new disruptive and controlling industry platforms get created.

However, the standout finding from this year's survey was the meteoric rise of the Internet of Things, a term that barely garnered any recognition in previous years.

With digital starting to fundamentally change the nature of industries, Raskino believes CEOs' security and risk concerns are rising.

Seventy-seven percent of survey respondents agreed with the statement that "the digital world is creating new types and levels of risk for our business," and 65 percent felt that "Investment in risk management practices is not keeping up with new and higher levels of risk."

"Although this was a partly prompted finding, we also saw strong evidence of this rising concern elsewhere in the responses," Raskino adds.

"CEOs are right to be concerned. As products and services become digital they add far greater utility for the customer but also far greater power for those dark forces who might usurp digital control.

"CEOs and CIOs should collaborate to jolt the executive team out of cyber-risk complacency."

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