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UK CIOs maintain positive outlook as they drive global growth - study
Tue, 20th Jun 2023

UK CIOs of large global enterprises are increasing investment in technology to drive growth through global expansion in the next 12 months, according to new research announced by Expereo.

The research of more than 200 CIOs in the UK shows that half (48%) have secured increased technology budgets specifically to deliver growth and overcome existing challenges.

The new insights, which are part of a global survey of over 650 CIOs in businesses with over $500 million annual revenues across Europe, US and APAC, also shows that nearly 4 in ten UK CIOs (38%) feel that their global business ambitions are constrained by legacy connectivity and management systems.

It also highlights that organisations may be missing growth opportunities by failing to prioritise geographic regions with some of the world’s fastest growing economies, due to perceived complexity and challenges to market entry.

Ben Elms, Chief Revenue Officer at Expereo comments, “The biggest businesses in the UK and across the globe are moving faster to the future.  They are focusing on driving growth through global expansion, despite the complexities and challenges to overcome.

“The business-critical nature of connectivity in today’s world combined with an increasingly complex landscape - from security, regulation, skills and often challenging physical and geo-political infrastructure - means this is no easy task. However, it is achievable. Those that find a way to simplify, automate and scale their operations will be in the best position to reap the rewards and deliver growth.”

UK CIOs maintain positive outlook

According to the research, UK CIOs have the most positive outlook globally after China, as 40% and 45% respectively describe their organisations’ current attitudes to growth as optimistic and a quarter (25%) are ambitious for the next 12 months. Almost half (48%) of respondents claim global boards have already increased technology budgets to help drive this.

AI/ML (60%), security (58%), and automation and analytics (58%) were identified as the top three areas set for increased tech investments in the UK in the next four months, closely followed by 5G (57%), edge computing (55%), SaaS (54%), public and hybrid cloud (52%), and WAN (50%). CIOs claim that this investment will drive global growth by ensuring prioritisation of increased innovation (44%), new products (41%), and expansion into new markets (36%).

New markets pose challenges

Almost half (45%) of CIOs claimed that establishing and managing connectivity in new markets is the single most critical factor in ensuring successful global expansion, and a third (34%) said that their board views global connectivity as a business asset critical to growth, but there are challenges that need to be overcome.

In fact, when asked specifically about the biggest challenge to delivering global growth in new regions, 38% said that effectively establishing connectivity in new regions is one of the major challenges in their role, 34% said it is a major challenge for their organisation and 38% revealed that their organisations’ business ambitions are constrained by legacy connectivity.

Additional challenges identified were skills and resource retention (39%), security environments (31%), complicated physical and geopolitical infrastructure (31%), legacy systems (29%) and local knowledge (28%).

Perceived complexity an obstacle to global growth

Responses indicated that UK enterprises may be failing to prioritise the fastest growing economies due to perceived complexities.

When asked about where their organisation saw the biggest opportunity for growth, North America and Europe dominated the top five. Western Europe (33%) took the throne, followed by North America (30%), the Middle East (30%), Northern Europe (30%) and Eastern Europe (25%).

Asian markets are perceived by UK CIOs as the most technologically challenging region to do business in regarding the local knowledge of providers (53%), agility (58%), and security (53%).

Given that the IMF’s most recent World Economic Outlook Report showed that growth projections in advanced economies was 1.4% for 2024, while emerging and developing markets was 4.2%, researchers state it is surprising that neither the Greater China Area or Central & South Asia appear in the top five priority regions for growth. Each includes two of the fastest growing economies in the world - China and India. Perhaps this is due to both appearing consistently in the top five most challenging regions.

Elms continues, “Realising the growth opportunities that global expansion can deliver will be critical to the world economy in these challenging times. CIOs need to completely focus on supercharging this strategic growth wherever they are doing business in the world; not grappling with unnecessary logistical and connectivity challenges."