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Covid-19 sparks surge in technology spending
Companies spent extra US$15 billion a week to enable staff to work from home, Harvey Nash-KPMG survey finds
24 Sep 2020 | The Asset

Companies spent an additional US$15 billion a week on technology to enable their staff to work from home amid the coronavirus pandemic, a new survey by Harvey Nash and KPMG reveals. It marked one of the biggest surges in technology investment in history, with the world’s technology leaders spending more than their annual budget rise in just three months.

The survey covered more than 4,200 IT leaders, including over 100 from mainland China and Hong Kong.

Despite the huge surge in IT spending, with much of it aimed at enhancing security and privacy, four in ten of respondents report that their company has experienced more cyber-attacks. Over three quarters of the attacks were phishing (83%) and almost two-thirds from malware (62%), suggesting that the massive move to remote working has increased exposure from employees.

Globally, organizations have struggled to find skilled cyber-security professionals to support the dramatic shift to home working, making cyber-security (35%) the most “in demand” technology skill in the world. This is the first time a security-related skill has topped the list of global technology skills shortages for over a decade, according to the survey.

Prior to Covid-19, skills shortages remained close to an all-time high in the early part of 2020. Subsequently, shortages in tech talent have remained high, only marginally dropping compared to the 2008 global financial crisis. In addition to cyber-security skills (35%), the next three most scarce technology skills are organizational change management (27%), enterprise architecture (23%), and technical architecture and advanced analytics (both at 22%).

Says Harry Huang, partner, CIO advisory, at KPMG China: “As all mainland China (chief information officers) surveyed agreed, the Covid-19 pandemic has increased collaboration between the business and technology teams, and also accelerated digital transformation and adoption of emerging tech such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, internet of things, and intelligent automation in China. A skills shortage is, however, preventing their organization from keeping up with the pace of change. Companies must develop a talent management strategy through good remuneration and career progression opportunities.”

Adam Stuckert, another CIO advisory partner, notes that the majority of CIOs in Hong Kong and the mainland have seen their technology budgets increase in the last year and expect that trend to continue over the next 12 months. They have prioritized analytics and systems of insight, new technology development, IT management and operations, and cloud as key areas for investment. For Hong Kong, security, privacy, and automation also factor into the top areas for investment.”

According to data from Forrester, global IT spending was forecasted to reach US$3.5 trillion in 2019 and US$3.59 trillion in 2020. The survey finds that over an eight-week period (June 5 to August 10 2020), global IT leaders reported a median additional technology spend of 5% of their annual technology budget to deal with the Covid-19 outbreak, which translates to around US$175 billion or US$15 billion a week for the first three months of the crisis. 

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