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Research Review | ESG Study: ‘Digitally Mature’ companies will drive innovation and IT spend in 2022

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Submitted by Jeffrey Bausch on
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A new report from Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) suggests we will see higher levels of digital transformation maturity this upcoming year, and that these digitally mature companies will lead the way when it comes to planned IT investment. 
The report, entitled "2022 Technology Spending Intentions Survey", polled 706 senior IT managers. 
Survey highlights 
26% of the respondents, which included executives based in North America, Western Europe, and the Asia-Pacific region, described their digital transformation initiatives as mature; that is, they have implemented and optimized several digital-based projects. This is double the 13% of IT managers that described their companies as “digitally mature” in 2018. 
69% of respondents in the mature category said they expected their organizations to boost spending above 2021 levels. Here, it is worth note that this portion dropped to 59% for companies in the project planning phase, and 18% for companies yet to embark on digital transformation.
When respondents were asked what their top transformation objective in the poll was, they rated becoming "operationally more efficient" as most important. However, the percentage doing so declined to 52% from 56% in the previous year's survey. This is likely due to the completion of some stopgap transformation projects designed to trim expenses in the first 18 months of the pandemic.
Customer experience made some nice gains in this new survey, trailing only operational efficiency in the survey results.
"Customer experience made a pretty significant year-over-year jump, both in terms of percentage of respondents and overall relative position," said Bill Lundell, director of syndicated research at ESG. 
Biggest spenders by industry 
74% of IT managers in healthcare said they expect a year-over-year budget increase. The ESG report specifically made it a point to call out a "sharp ramp-up in ransomware attacks" as a likely source of the higher spending at these healthcare organizations.
Higher education came in second in the poll: 71% of respondents predict an IT budget increase. Colleges and universities have been boosting spending to bolster hybrid learning for the long term, and to toughen cybersecurity.
Retail/wholesale placed third. 70% of the IT managers surveyed said they expected some sort of budget boost in 2022. This might come as a bit of a surprise to most, what with the struggles many retailers experienced during the pandemic. However, the spending increase could reflect the desire of those who’ve fallen behind digitally, if you will, with rivals equipped with more sophisticated e-commerce setups. 
On the flip side, retail's digital leaders may be spending to solidify their advantage.
Technologies that will receive the most investment: AI, Cloud Computing, Cybersecurity
Of those polled, 69% pointed to cybersecurity as a sector for increased investment this upcoming year. Security was also the major consideration for justifying IT investment according to the report. 44% of IT managers chose improving cybersecurity as the basis for spending.  Public cloud applications followed at 65%, and AI/machine placed third at 62%. 
ESG's numbers reflect the changing face of digital transformation as CIOs respond to recent business model changes that seem likely to endure. Today’s solution providers are primed to serve as a go-to resource to addressing this rapid pace of change and continuing unpredictability, helping IT managers who are looking to make some sort of digital transformation in 2022, do so quickly to best seize tomorrow’s opportunities.
Access the study here.
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