Digital divide

Companies still very resistant to digital change - survey shows

A new survey shows that resistance to change is the single biggest impediment to companies achieving digital success.

The results of the second annual Harvey Nash/KPMG 2017 CIO Survey were presented Thursday at a Chief Information Officer (CIO) Forum at the Hilton Barbados Resort.

Over 20 Caribbean companies participated, including 11 from Barbados in the global survey, carried out in 86 countries among 4,500 respondents. However, the KPMG Island Grouping (KIG) component specifically looked at the operations of close to 70 companies in nine countries.

Presenting a snap shot of responses from the KIG component, Manager of IT Advisory KPMG (Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean) Mariette Simmons-Browne said low budget was a major challenge facing IT professionals, who were generally pessimistic about an increase in their IT budgets over the next 12 months, with only 35 per cent of respondents expecting an increase.

Mariette Simmons-Browne

However, the main impediment to companies achieving digital success was resistance to change, as cited by 63 per cent of KIG respondents. The global average was 43 per cent.

“When we talk about resistance to change we have to look at it from an external perspective as well as an internal perspective. Yes, we have a region where we respond slower to change, but also a lot of the time we find a lot of the resistance internal to the organization,” she said.

A whopping 68 per cent of respondents to the KIG survey also said weak ownership and support from the business was another major reason why IT projects failed in their organizations.

Other reasons cited were over optimistic expectations; unclear objectives; poor governance or project management; lack of budget; external change in business/political/economic environment; lack of talent and overly complex systems.

The survey also showed that the majority of IT professionals –– 77 per cent –– continued to be concerned mostly with issues associated with organized cyber crime, insider activities, spammers, foreign powers and competitors while their directors were focused on achieving cost savings, increasing operational efficiencies, delivering consistent and stable IT performance, improving business processes and improving cyber security.

Shockingly, only 12 per cent of companies taking part in the KIG component of the survey considered their IT strategies to be very effective, compared to 16 per cent who said their strategies were not effective and 72 per cent who considered their strategies to be moderately effective.

This was consistent with the global responses to the survey, which showed that 18 per cent of companies believed their digital strategies were very effective, 19 per cent, not very effective and 63 per cent, moderate.

Partner Advisory and Head of Regional Management Consulting KPMG (Barbados) Brenda Pope said there were four key factors that distinguished the 18 per cent from the others – the building of stable and secure infrastructure; aggressive investment in agile and disruptive technologies; alignment of business and IT strategies from front to back office, and continued focus on innovative and growth strategies.

With a lot of her presentation focused on the investment in automation, Pope said many more businesses were investing in cloud technology as well as digital labour. However, Pope gave the assurance that technology would not replace humans.

“Basically the robots are coming,” said Pope, adding that the survey revealed that over a third of organizations were expecting to invest or are already investing in “some form of digital labour” but it did not immediately mean job losses.

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