Pandemic has boosted clout of IT leaders, finds KPMG report

26 November 2020 Consulting.ca

A majority (6 in 10) of technology leaders in Canada believe they have more influence in the C-suite than ever before, due to the increasing importance of digital technology during the pandemic. Accounting and consulting firm KPMG polled 65 Canadian chief information officers (CIOs) in June and August 2020 as part of its global 2020 CIO Survey.

Digital technology has been a critical element of firms pivoting to e-commerce amid lockdowns, transitioning their workforces to remote work, and guarding against an increasing wave of cyberattacks. As such, the global crisis has further increased the already central importance of the CIO office – and this elevated importance is likely to persist even after the end of the pandemic.

Nearly half (47%) of Canadian technology leaders said Covid-19 has permanently accelerated digital transformation and the adoption of emerging technologies such as AI, automation, and blockchain.

“CEOs today are realizing the strategic importance of technology to their company's success," said Sanjay Pathak, partner and national leader of technology strategy and digital transformation, KPMG Canada. "The coronavirus pandemic, including the ensuing lockdown and restrictions, has been a driving catalyst for change, illustrating that digital transformation is about much more than cost optimization. It is really about envisioning the art of the possible to better adapt and get ahead of inevitable change.”
Pandemic has boosted clout of IT leaders, finds KPMG report

Due to their critical nature in the current context, IT departments are less worried about pandemic-downturn-fueled cutbacks. Sixty-one percent of Canadian technology leaders said they expect their budget to increase over the next 12 months, compared to 48% of respondents globally. Meanwhile, 96% of technology leaders in Canada expect to maintain or increase their team headcount, compared to 85% globally.

Canadian IT leaders identified cybersecurity as the most scarce technology skill, at 42%.

The huge shift to remote work has raised cybersecurity concerns, with 37% of Canadian CIOs reporting their companies saw an increase in cybersecurity incidents during the pandemic (vs 41% globally). Increased remote work will persist after the pandemic, with 44% of Canadian CIOs believing 30-50% of their company’s workers will work primarily from home post-pandemic.

As such, 82% of Canadian respondents think the pandemic has permanently increased the number of points where cyberattackers can find vulnerabilities to access company networks.

"Cybersecurity has never been more critical. We are seeing an increase in malware and cyberattacks. Hardening of company infrastructure – the tools, techniques, and best practices - to reduce potential vulnerabilities and security risks is now a topic in most boardrooms,” noted Kathy Penner, partner and national leader for technology enterprise solutions at KPMG Canada.