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Written by Chi Ngwube, Associate Director, Digital & Innovation, KPMG

Organizations continue to invest in new and emerging technology. The global Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey 2019 showed that organizations majorly increased their investment in technology in 2019. For enterprises where the emphasis is on efficiency and saving money, investment in technology has also been on the rise. One of the reasons behind much of this investment is cybersecurity, data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI)/automation and transformation.

Over the last several years, many organizations were skeptical about the value of cloud and were concerned about security implications. Today, these notions have largely been dispelled and the cloud is no longer an ‘emerging’ technology. The global Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey reveals that the scope of cloud, and its range of application areas, continues to grow. In addition, 77% of CIOs surveyed in the UAE are investing in the cloud, of which 44% are doing so on a large-scale basis. There is no indication that it will stop. In fact, 88% of organizations feel more confident about their use of cloud technologies today than in the last few years.

The adoption of cloud technology is driven by digital disruption and the need to get closer to the consumer. The use of cloud is just as common among smaller start-ups as with larger entities. A sizeable proportion of organizations are handling transformation within existing budgets and extra investment is not required. Moving technology expenditure from capital to operational expenditure is both a technical feat and a financial one – but many technology leaders are making a success of it.

In addition to this, the Internet of Things, on-demand platforms, robotic process automation, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) may dominate in 2020. The Harvey Nash/KPMG survey shows that at least one-fifth of global organizations have implemented one or more of these technologies on a small scale. Over time this is likely to grow, and we expect developments to be driven by business-led investment.

One of the perceived threats to organizations is the effect of automation in the workplace – specifically whether more jobs will be created or eliminated due to AI. Despite perceived uncertainty, 69% of CIOs surveyed believe new jobs will compensate for this. Our view is that changes may be incremental, and certain job roles and tasks are likely to become redundant over a period of time. AI will also allow employees to engage in richer interactions with others, so benefits may outweigh potential threats.

Furthermore, business leaders have become increasingly prescriptive about their expectations of technology. Perhaps frustrated by what they perceive as an unresponsive IT team, some have taken matters into their own hands. This apparent eroding of direct influence was not something IT traditionally supported and it gave rise to a phenomenon – ‘shadow IT’. But things are changing. Almost two-thirds of organizations (64%) at least allow it, and approximately one in ten actively encourages it. Looking ahead, younger, perhaps more digitally native, organizations are almost twice as likely to encourage business-managed IT as the global average.

Looking ahead, the explosive growth of cloud computing, the advent of business managed IT spend and leaps in data analytics and automation, have all served to change the landscape of where technology resides and who has access and influence over it. Against this backdrop, successful enterprises are realizing they need a different perspective on what IT and technology leadership means to them. Structures will become more fluid and business and technology providers will find new ways to collaborate and deliver business value faster, safer, and more cost-effective in the future.

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