CIOs expect to have less money to spend overall but will allocate more of their budgets to cybersecurity and automation as social distancing rules accelerate digital adoption and place limits on the work humans can carry out. 

Conducted between April 24 and May 7, 2020, Adobe’s CIO Perspectives Survey captures insights from 55 CIOs in Australia in firms from 100 employees to 5000+ employees. 

More than half (57 per cent) of CIOs stated their planned financial investments have decreased because of COVID-19.

Reflecting on the early days of Australia’s shutdown, businesses were incredibly quick to adapt to COVID-19 with three-quarters (73 per cent) of CIOs stating they were able to develop a plan within a week of restrictions being enforced. 

Of these, almost all (98 per cent) were able to implement those plans fully or partially and 91 per cent of CIOs claimed their organisation was well equipped to work effectively, even in a remote setting.

According to the research 87 per cent have seen a direct impact on customer activities during COVID-19, however most CIOs remain optimistic about the future and the agility of their businesses. More than three-quarters (78 per cent) are positive about their organisation’s ability to find success in the post-COVID-19 economy.

However, some of the key challenges cited by CIOs in terms of business continuity are security (28 per cent) and supporting a remote workforce for long-term (26 per cent).

When it comes to cybersecurity, more than two-thirds (69 per cent) of CIOs foresee increased investment in this area, and a third (33 per cent) plan to increase headcount in cybersecurity. 

“The importance of data security and privacy is not new, but the accelerated digital transformation that has happened in response to COVID-19 has propelled it to the top of many boards’ agenda,” said Suzanne Steele, Managing Director for Adobe Australia and New Zealand said. 

“As we rapidly move from functioning in an increasingly-digital world to one that is digital-only, it is imperative to build consumer trust by protecting their personal data and treating it properly.”

Limits on the types of work humans can do under social distancing rules has also led to an increased interest in automation. 

“The current global situation has put technology at the forefront and accelerated adoption. Three-quarters of Australian CIOs have already invested in new technologies to solve for the challenges posed by COVID-19, with almost all (98 per cent) focusing on automation to enhance efficiency in times to come,” said Steele. 

The increase in digital activity has also had an impact on hiring priorities. Many organisations expect a negative impact on hiring due to COVID-19, although interestingly, they still plan to increase headcount across cybersecurity and privacy, AI/ML/automation, R&D, and infrastructure.

When it comes to hiring new talent, softer skill sets are coming to the fore, along with technical expertise. Skills such as teamwork (73 per cent), design (62 per cent), creativity (60 per cent), and leadership (per cent) are as important as analytical skills (73per cent), project management (49per cent), and customer knowledge (47per cent).

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