The coronavirus pandemic has brought forward the need to innovate, yet many businesses are struggling to match the pace.
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Nearly two-thirds of businesses in the UK and US say they do not have the necessary infrastructure in place to cope with future IT needs – or even the teams to make it happen.

In a survey of 380 chief information officers (CIOs) and chief technology officers (CTOs) at mid-sized and large corporations by IBM, 60% said their company’s IT modernization program was not yet ready for the future.

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Specifically, CIOs and CTOs felt that their IT modernization programmes were not at the level required to handle the new business opportunities presented by data technologies like artificial intelligence and automation, as well as the need for cloud infrastructure, which has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

What’s more, many technology leaders aren’t even sure they have the right teams in place to make digital transformation happen: 40% of respondents felt their teams lacked the right skills to “fully meet their IT ambitions”, with over three-quarters saying they would have to rely on managed services from infrastructure partners to fill this gap.

IBM’s survey was conducted online by Teneo Research between November 19 and December 1 last year. 2020 saw many companies forced to rapidly accelerate their digital transformation plans due to the impact of COVID-19 on e-commerce and the displacement of workforces.

In some instances, companies were forced to drastically bring forward their IT modernization plans: 24% of respondents to IBM’s survey said their company had only just started its IT modernization journey, or otherwise was yet to begin modernizing. The remaining third reported to be in the middle of transformation.

In particular, demand for cloud infrastructure has boomed over the past 12 months. Ninety-five percent of IT leaders surveyed by IBM said they were looking to adopt public, hybrid or private cloud strategies, with more than half (53%) saying they were “aggressively” pursuing a public cloud strategy, 48% a hybrid cloud strategy and 45% a private cloud strategy.

While the majority (60%) of CIOs and CTOs surveyed said their company’s IT modernization was not yet future-ready, the study revealed significant differences in the US and UK markets. For example, while approximately 56% of US respondents said they were aggressively moving their IT infrastructure to hybrid cloud, only 38% of respondents in the UK described their approach as ‘aggressive’.

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Similarly, while 56% of CIOs and CTOs surveyed in the US said their IT infrastructure was “completely prepared” for the business changes brought on by COVID-19, only 23% of UK managers surveyed felt the same way.

More than 60% of technology leaders surveyed say they expected the increased demand for cloud infrastructure to be permanent. Professional skills development and security upgrades were also cited as key IT priorities by CIOs and CTOs, IBM found.