The 2015 Gartner CEO and senior business executive survey finds growth growth remains a top priority and technology-related change is viewed as the primary tool to achieve that growth towards 2016.
The survey of 400 senior business leaders in user organisations worldwide was held in the last quarter of 2014, and asked questions about their top five business priorities for the next two years.
With digital starting to fundamentally change the nature of industries, the survey finds CEOs' security and risk concerns are rising. Seventy-seven per cent of survey respondents agreed with the statement that "The digital world is creating new types and levels of risk for our business.”
Gartner says 65 per cent 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," says Gartner vice president Mark Raskino.
"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."
Most responding organisations were those with annual revenue of $1 billion or more, says Gartner. The results show 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 Raskino.
"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," says Raskino.
"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."
The standout finding from the survey was the meteoric rise of the Internet of Things, a term that barely garnered any recognition in previous years.
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 per cent of respondents ranked customer engagement management as the leading technology-enabled business capability, followed by digital marketing at 32 per cent and business analytics at 28 per cent.
Cloud-based business also now has high recognition, as CEOs come to realise 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, reports Gartner.
Send news tips and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow Divina Paredes on Twitter: @divinap
Read more: Primed for change
Follow CIO New Zealand on Twitter:@cio_nz
Join the CIO New Zealand group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.