There is currently a "risk-on" period, when CEOs perceive that risk is lower and so are prepared to invest in longer-term growth, indicating 2014 will be the year that CEOs and senior executives prioritize growth, according to a report from IT research firm Gartner.
The results of the Gartner survey show that growth is the top priority by far, with CEOs and executives displaying a bullish attitude toward technology-related business growth in 2014 and 2015.
Almost half of the IT-related priorities that respondents gave specifically mentioned digital, online or modern technologies of the post e-business era, such as social, cloud and mobile.
"Growth is very clearly king in this year's business priorities with 33 percent of respondents naming growth as their top priority," Mark Raskino, vice president and Gartner Fellow, said in a statement. "In 2014 growth almost equals the sum of the next three issues on the list of top strategic business priorities. The next step will be for CEOs and CIOs to work together to match the use of modern technologies to the specific kind of growth that the business is trying to win."
The report also asked respondents about their most important technology-enabled capability investments over the next five years, with the top of the list dominated by "front-office" technology-related capabilities that are used to help in sales and marketing.
Survey results also indicated strong interest in basing business operation in the cloud and in using data-driven decision-making through business analytics, big data and data science.
"IT-related issues, including mentions of digital, were also much more prominent this year with 7 percent of CEOs ranking IT as one of their top priorities," Raskino said. "This supports a broader observation that CEOs are taking a higher personal interest in applying technology more aggressively in their firms. Technology talk points are becoming far more visible in CEO results presentations, investor calls and business press interviews."
Two years ago the survey found that many CEOs seemed set to hire a chief digital officer (CDO). The 2014 survey found that a quarter of the survey respondents say they now have a CDO.
Adding in other vice president and senior levels of digital leaders, as well as those respondents who plan to make an appointment this year and next, it appears that half of these companies will have a designated digital leader title by the end of 2015.
"One of the most important things the CIO can do over the next year or two is close the very big gap in understanding, by working on education for the board, executives, senior and middle management layers," Raskino said. "A decade of believing that IT was a commodity function, to be mostly outsourced, has left many business leaders in a position of relative weakness."