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Digital Transformation Top Budget Priority for Fortune 500s in Post-Pandemic 2021

A just-released report commissioned by WalkMe, a digital adoption platform, and conducted by Constellation Research among 100 Fortune 500 CIOs found that 77.3% of CIOs prioritized digital transformation for their 2021 budgets over any other business activity.

The overwhelming prioritization can be attributed to the shifting needs and challenges industry-leading organizations are faced with adapting new business infrastructures and service paradigms in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the vast majority of businesses around the world restructured their day-to-day operations and transitioned to work-from-home model (Google [NYSE:GOOG] is to have its employees work from home until at least July 2021; Twitter [NYSE:TWTR] is said to be considering extending this “forever”), further investments are required to accommodate and support this restructured operational model.

In the press release accompanying the report, Dion Hinchcliffe, Vice President and Principal Analyst at Constellation Research, was quoted: “Our Q4 CIO survey surfaced the focal priorities of CIOs going into 2021, with digital transformation standing head and shoulders above all other concerns. These leading CIOs expect to be aided by powerful new technologies like digital adoption platforms, automation technologies, and next-generation analytics."

The Expanding Role of the CIO

The report, titled “The CIO Outlook 2021” (full report), provides a closer examination of how the role of the CIO (Chief Information Officer) is assuming more and more responsibilities within companies as supporting technologies and the seamless flow of information become essential components of every modern business thrive to success.

Dan Adika, CEO of WalkMe, remarked “As we move into 2021 it is clear that the role of the CIO is expanding, and becoming more business critical than ever before.”

The new operational landscape ushered by the pandemic drives CIOs to adapt a multitude of solutions to facilitate the work-from-home model, alongside new innovative ways to keep customer service at its highest level while shifting to a remote operational mode.

The report’s finding support this by showing that 51% of CIOs pointed to automation and disruption-resilient IT as key elements for enabling newfound organizational needs.

Together with supporting the shifting of infrastructures, CIOs are also tasked with showing ROI on investment in new IT. 45% of respondents stated a 10% ROI goal for their future investments, and 23% reported 20% or higher ROI expectations.

2021, the Bounce-Back Year

As the business world is slowly bouncing back from the initial system-shock that the pandemic brought with it, looking toward 2021, it can be deducted from the report that businesses expect, or at least hope, that 2021 would be the bounce-back year; 56% of CIOs stated that their next-year budget and staff have not been cut and remain the same as pre-COVID.

This bit should be taken with a grain of salt though. Having the same budget and workforce indicates that industry-leading organizations have managed to stay resilient during 2020 and are able to allocate similar funds to their 2021 activities. With that said, the intense pressure put on CIOs to basically re-invent operations, internal communication and IT infrastructure with the same budget and workforce is putting them in a pressured spotlight.

Digitalization is becoming a key issue in business survival, both from the employee side and the customer side. Enabling employees an efficient IT system to work with and communicate with customers - both remotely - is setting the tone for the foreseeable future.

Disclosure: This Op-Ed is written by Reuben Jackson. Insider Monkey News Department isn't involved in the production of this article.