Digital transformation remains the top strategic business priority for boards of directors, with 58% of survey respondents to a new Gartner report saying it will remain their key focus in the coming two years.
But as the report -- based on input from 273 corporate board members in the US, Europe and APAC -- reveals, that figure has actually slumped by double-digits compared to last year, with concerns about workforce availability, environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues and risk management all soaring.
“During the pandemic, BoDs recognised that they needed to become comfortable operating in an environment of significant risk, as standing still was not an option,” said Gartner VP Partha Iyengar.
He added: “This drove them to embrace the ‘try fast, fail fast approach,’ and into 2022, BoDs will continue taking risks such as making technology investment decisions with incomplete information or making financial bets without up-front visibility around a guaranteed return.”
("While Boards are shifting focus to the role of technology beyond IT, CIOs remain visible as a key partner in BoDs’ digital initiatives", Gartner notes, with 34% of boards having a formally constituted IT, digital or technology subcommittee, and 94% of these in turn, unsurprisingly, including the CIO or CTO as a member.)
Board of Director Priorities for 2022
The survey comes weeks after PwC's own 2021 Annual Corporate Directors Survey pointed to similar sharp concerns about talent. (When asked about areas that need more time and attention in the boardroom, talent management topped the list—beating out strategy oversight for the first time, the report noted.)
A series of recent conversations The Stack has had with CIOs suggests that it's red hot competition for IT talent in particular that's driving a lot of the concern -- even as board attention strays to ESG and other issues.
As JPMorgan's Global CIO Lori Beer told us earlier this year "we are in one of the hottest tech markets that I’ve ever seen in terms of attraction of talent, and Covid has accelerated that [with] every business digitalising”.
It's a point GXO Logistics' CIO Sandeep Sakharkar echoed this week, emphasising that "for anybody looking for work in robotics, automation, data, AI, ML; look us up! We’re brand new and we’re hiring" and Mercedes Benz, China's CIO Joerg Storm also emphasised in conversation with The Stack, citing huge competition for digitally skilled staff between more traditional industries and tech firms themselves.