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CEOs ‘need technology in their DNA’ to ensure success

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

CEOs and executive leadership positions should be filled by people with technology career backgrounds, such as app or software development, if businesses are to be more successful, say the majority (69%) of business leaders in the UK.

Research conducted by VMware has found international recognition that elevating technology team members into leadership roles drives significant value for the entire organisation.

When identifying specific benefits, over one in four (42%) business leaders highlight improved efficiency across the whole organisation, a third (33%) recognise increased business performance and greater innovation potential, and more than a third (39%) better customer experiences.

Vanson Bourne, commissioned by VMware, interviewed 2,250 respondents in EMEA (including 450 from the UK) during March and April 2020. This consisted of 750 business decision makers, 750 IT decision makers and 750 app developers. All respondents were from organisations with at least 500 employees, across all private and public sectors, including, but not limited to IT, financial services, retail and wholesale, healthcare, education and government.

VMware says the findings sit against a backdrop of seismic disruption, where digital transformation – the way technology transforms or enhances business models – has been validated in helping leaders and their organisations adapt to fast-changing market dynamics, changing business models and employee mobilization.

During the pandemic, UK businesses highlight the benefits of modernised applications, for example, to enhance their performance and resilience. More than half (58% ) of respondents highlighted the role of modernised apps to enable employees to work remotely, and just under a third referenced their ability to continuously push updates in response to the changing landscape (31%), and ensure reliable uptime (35%). 

In fact, more than three quarters (81%) of app developers and technology leaders in the UK believe that without successfully modernising applications, organisations will not be able to deliver a best-in-class customer experience. This is echoed by the global executive community; more than 80% of whom believe that enhancing application portfolios will improve the customer experience, which is directly tied to revenue growth.

“Business leaders have never been at the helm of so much change, so those with an inherent knowledge of technology and an understanding of how applications can help them adapt to any market conditions and shape their future performance and resiliency have a real advantage. Indeed, three quarters of the world’s business leaders agree that a ‘technology inside’ leadership skillset will bring success,” said Ed Hoppitt, Director of Apps and Cloud Native Platforms VMware, EMEA. “From the tens of millions of people and students now working and educating from home, to banks being able to scale to provide significant revenue streams, to businesses and retailers looking at digital platform options almost overnight, this pandemic has driven a decade of digital transformation in a few months. 

“It is the ability to get these defining, business apps – that deliver information and services into the hands of users, where needed – that creates success and genuinely drives customer engagement.  Leadership with technology in its DNA combined with a software-enabled digital foundation to serve up these digital services is a winning combination.”

Ursula Dolton, CTO at British Heart Foundation, said: “Businesses risk missing a trick by not appointing C-suite execs with backgrounds in technology. It is no longer enough to simply invest in technologies, since their benefits to organisations go well beyond implementation. In order to get the most from these investments, it’s vital to deliver cultural change and strategic direction, a role best suited for leaders with an understanding of these platforms and the power to both respond to demand and enforce real change.” 

A competitive advantage, born out of the continuous development and delivery of new applications and services, is also reinforced by the findings – which reveal that high-performing companies in EMEA have a more efficient and effective development rate of applications. Two thirds (66%) of new applications make it through to production in high-performing companies***, compared to 41% within underperforming organisations, while 70% of application efforts make it to production in the planned timeframe in high-performing organisations, compared with just 41% in underperforming.