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PWC CIO Pulse Survey 2021 : Challenges and Priorities Discussed Between Peers

Michaël Renotte I 11:19 pm, 19th October

Around 30 Chief Information Officers responded to the invitation of PWC to participate in the CIO Pulse Survey 2021 digital event held on 7 October. The live survey was moderated by Nabil Meziani, CIO of Raiffeisen Bank, Patrice Witz, Technology Partner and Digital Leader at PWC Luxembourg, Krzysztof Jaros-Kraszewski, Director IT Strategy at PWC Luxembourg, and Kamel Amroune, CEO of The Dots, co-organizer of the event. 78% of the participating CIOs were from the financial industry, 22% from non-financial sectors.

When evaluating priorities defined last year for 2021, surveyed CIOs rated "Stabilized Critical Infrastructure", "New Ways of Working", and "Improved Cybersecurity" fully or almost fully achieved. Priorities such as "Reduced IT Cost" and "Transition to Cloud and SaaS model" were rated "on track". "The COVID-19 crisis gave us arguments for maintaining reasonable levels of IT investment, which allowed to avoid increasing technical debt", said one of the CIOs.

Participants said that, as a consequence of the 1,5 years of COVID pandemic, they felt increased pressure on IT to deliver but they also noticed IT department being recognized. Difficulties also arose when the time came for IT employees to return to the office. "IT teams gave the best of themselves to organize work from home and teleworking, but these efforts have long since been forgotten and now projects must be delivered as initially scheduled", commented one of the CIOs.

CIOs ranked the necessity to "Modernize Core Applications" number one of their top IT priorities for 2022, followed by the need to "Rationalize Application Landscape" and the will to "Accelarate to New IT Operating Models (e.g. Agile, DevOPs, SAFE). "We focus on modernizing our core applications while enabling both digital transformation and business growth", said one of the participants. "This goes hand in hand with innovation as we have to think out of the box to achieve this without questioning or changing our legacy systems."

Surveyed CIOs all indicated that the culture of innovation was present in their IT organization at different levels and at varying degrees of proliferation. 36% apply innovation "throughout the organization together with the business lines", another 36% follow a "holistic approach with a strong strategic intention", and 27% declare that they "innovate at IT level only". "Innovation happens at different levels", explained a survey participant. "The first one is to push incremental innovation wherever we can improve things for our customers and employees. The other level is more strategic. This is where we leverage the power of our group platform, by joining multi-country programs for instance."

As regards the areas targeted by the IT organization, CIOs shown quite high interest in light weight even-driven architecture – such as micro-services or APIs - and dematerialized means, e.g. paperless environments, electronic signature or EDM. Few have referred to much-talked-about technologies like blockchain & DLT, or Edge and Quantum computing. And this is true even for AI. "COVID - and the fact that we were all at home - has forced a quick move to paperless environments", said one of the participants. "Since we cannot replace our core applications in a foreseeable future, we rely on micro-service and API architectures to develop new capabilities", added another CIO. "The future success of technologies such as blockchain and DLT in the financial industry will depend on our ability to find the right balance between innovation and regulation", said one of their peers.

Survey participants indicated that the main pain points of their IT organization were the impact of regulatory agenda on IT, the effect of the legacy systems and technical debt, and the constraints on IT budget to meet business objectives. "The growing weight of regulation that we have witnessed since the 2008 crisis clearly has a strong impact on activities in the banking sector", underlined one of the of the surveyed CIOs

When asked for their challenges regarding human resources, participants responded that their main challenges were the difficulties of hiring resources with the skills needed, the lack of staff in the teams, and the mismatch between IT needs and skills. "It's hard to find adequately skilled staff", noted one of the CIOs. "The evolution in technology in the last few years and the increasing number of people working in that field led to the fact that the average skill set and capabilities have actually dropped compared to 20 years ago", he added.

* All figures are based on early results and could be adjusted by the closing of the survey

Michael Renotte

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