Financial services business leaders and CIOs disagree on IT infrastructure

IT leaders and senior business executives need to align their technology infrastructure priorities as businesses attempt to emerge from the Covid-19 crisis

There is a gap between business and IT leaders in the financial services sector about the ability of IT infrastructures to respond to the challenges brought by the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to Gartner’s 2020 Financial services Covid-19 pulse survey, more than half of business leaders in the sector believe their organisation’s IT infrastructure is a weakness when it comes to responding to the challenges, but only 20% of CIOs felt the same.

Gartner said this disagreement must be addressed if financial services firms are to make timely decisions about IT investments.

“This disconnect will be an ongoing, perhaps even growing, challenge if left unaddressed,” said Nicole Sturgill, research vice-president at Gartner. “CIOs must take immediate action to understand why business leaders felt that technology was a weakness. Their answers can provide the path forward, for which new technology investments need to be prioritised.”

Gartner said CIOs were quick to respond to the initial challenges of the pandemic, such as enabling remote working, but Sturgill said they must now “align” with business leaders as organisations emerge from the coronavirus crisis.

“Financial services CIOs moved quickly to respond to the immediate impact of the Covid-19 pandemic by addressing the needs of their teams as they moved to remote work or, for employees considered ‘essential’, ensured that they had the proper equipment and physical space,” she said. “Now, in order to successfully reset and emerge from this crisis, it is critical that these CIOs align their next steps with business executive leadership’s strategy.”

Gartner said CIOs need to engage early and often to prevent differences of opinion, which could stall investments.

“Fixing what is broken will always be a near-term priority for CIOs, but planning ahead, while harder in uncertain times, is critical to securing the future success of the organisation,” added Sturgill. “CIOs should create a structure to gather business imperatives on a regular basis, both through direct conversation with business leaders and line-of-business stakeholders, and through coordinated planning sessions and documents.”

One thing that CIOs and business leaders do agree on is that automation is a priority, said Sturgill. “Both business leaders and CIOs demonstrate a shared interest in automation technologies, so it’s clear that this area will be a key priority for financial services organisations post-Covid-19,”  said Sturgill.

Gartner’s survey found that over half of the CIOs plan to invest in automation technology.

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