Having a tech-savvy leadership team grows a business even during a pandemic, claims a global survey.

A growing business needs leaders familiar with technology like the back of their hands. Successful captains of business should also be willing to have regular technological discourses with colleagues, asserts a recent survey by a global software consultancy.

The leaders of thriving businesses in the survey, the authors claim, “were 76% more likely to keep fully up-to-date with the latest technology trends as compared to decision-makers of businesses that were not predicting growth. Monthly discussions about technology matters are significantly more likely in boardrooms of growing businesses than non-growing businesses.”

Commissioned by ThoughtWorks, Inc., the survey polled just 969 C-suite decision-makers from the US, the UK, Kingdom, Germany, China, Australia, India, Brazil, Singapore, Italy, Romania, Finland and Netherlands, across seven sectors.

The purpose of the study was to assess the level of digital proficiency, capability and confidence among companies’ leaderships. By business size, 60% of respondents worked for organizations with more than 1,000 employees. The remainder of respondents were drawn from small- and medium-sized businesses with fewer than 1,000 employees. Ultimately, the idea was to deduce the bearing these aspects had on the companies’ plans to adapt and grow at a critical time.

Summary of findings

According to the research study, among businesses that anticipated growth in 2021, 74% were led by leaders that had kept fully up-to-date with the latest technology developments. Only 42% of leaders that were not deemed tech-savvy indicated that they faced stunted corporate growth. Furthermore:

  • 55% of leaders of non-growing businesses in the survey were more likely to rely on the tech expertise of others, when compared to 25% of the top management of growing businesses
  • 47% of leaders of growing businesses in the survey were more likely to say their management team’s knowledge of new technology developments was ‘good’ in relation to key areas of business technology, compared to only 37% of leaders in non-growing businesses
  • Comparisons in digital proficiency between growing and non-growing businesses in the survey included: cloud computing (39% vs 29%); data strategy (44% vs 32%); and software platforms (34% vs 26%)
  • Among respondents in the growing businesses, 52% had board level discussions around digital transformation at least on a monthly basis. This dropped to 40% amongst non-growing businesses in the survey
  • Meanwhile, half of respondents in the growing businesses discussed customer-centric digital experiences at least monthly (as against 36% of non-growing businesses), while 49% discussed issues around enterprise modernization (in contrast to 34% non-growing ones)
  • Businesses that admitted to being held back by their tech capabilities were four times less likely to have board-level discussions about digital transformation and operations each month than businesses that described themselves as technologically advanced. They were half as likely to discuss customer experience and were 30% less likely to discuss enterprise modernization
  • Among the respondents who did not regularly discuss tech issues at board-level, reasons cited included: not understanding the problems (39%); not knowing how to implement or manage them (33%); or a feeling that they were not a priority (50%)

Commented Sameer Soman, Managing Director, ThoughtWorks India. “Technology isn’t just about hardware or software products that can be plugged in to solve a problem. It is about the culture of an organization; and that culture starts at the top. Today’s CEO needs to be as well versed in data strategy, platform capability and engineering excellence, as they are about sales, marketing and accounts. These will have an influence on future business performance.”