Business Leaders Acknowledge Hurdles to Tech Investments, ESG Implementation

While 60 percent of business leaders are either planning to invest or have already invested in advanced technology such as robotics, blockchain and quantum computing, 50 percent “claim they are not achieving significant value from existing technology investments,” noted the “Future-Ready Business Benchmark” report.

The study was commissioned by technology provider Cognizant and conducted by Economist Impact, and involved polling 2,000 business leaders across 10 countries.

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And while the executives polled acknowledge that they’re not squeezing out significant value from their tech investments, 46 percent of respondents also recognize “they lack the internal talent necessary to implement and utilize advanced technologies,” the report stated.

Regarding environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives, the survey revealed that only 35 percent of business leaders polled said ESG is incorporated as a company strategy.

That stat dovetails with an ESG report from the International Federation of Accountants, the American Institute of CPAs, and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants showing that while many companies are working toward better disclosure, they’re not being fully transparent.

In the Cognizant survey, the company said the research identifies three essential interrelated areas that leaders must prioritize “to create a resilient, future-ready enterprise.” The first is realizing “full value from accelerated technology adoption.” Secondly, they need to overhaul workforce strategies. And lastly, businesses need to work on “closing the gap on thought and action in the face of growing environmental, social and governance challenges.”

Euan Davis, head of Cognizant Research, also noted that resilience “is the new must-have capability for every organization that expects to thrive in this time of intensifying competition, ever-accelerating digital technology and unpredictable global events.”

“To succeed as a modern business, leaders must be ready for anything, and prioritization is key when everything seems equally critical,” Davis said. “We’ve shown that savvy technology investment, attention on developing talent with new and expanded skillsets, and embedding and acting on an ESG agenda are core elements of focus on which leaders can build. The successful CxOs will build future-ready, resilient businesses by ensuring their organizations learn, adapt and continually evolve.”

Other findings of the report include that more than 90 percent of respondents “say it is a strategic priority to adopt a data-driven approach and create a digital-first business model,” with 37 percent citing both of these imperatives, “along with the need to align operations with these new modes of working, as ‘business critical,’” the authors of the report said, adding that technology investment is accelerating “beyond what has become the standard shopping list of cloud, advanced analytics, IoT and artificial intelligence/machine learning [AI/ML].”

With workforce and talent management strategies, 46 percent of those polled said they recognize “they lack the skilled talent necessary to make productive use of advanced technologies.”

“Many businesses today are struggling to prepare for next month, let alone years from now,” said Vaibhav Sahgal, principal at Economist Impact. “Firms genuinely embedding principles of future-readiness from our Future-Ready Business Benchmark into their operational realities will maintain and grow their competitive advantage. Our data validated the fact that it is particularly challenging to make progress on the matter when juggling a vast array of often competing priorities. Our guidance is to start where the gaps are most significant and dial up the focus on people; the benchmark offers tangible calls to action for businesses across countries and industries. A failure to embrace the volatility that is here to stay, and prioritize business plans and investments accordingly, puts your business at the risk of losing relevance.”

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