CIOs bullish on agile enterprise platforms

Business leaders expect workflow automation technology to rally shares and growth in spite of pandemic

CIOs believe workflow automation technology rallied shares and business growth during the pandemic.

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, many businesses invested in digital enterprise platforms to improve business agility—the strategic imperative to survive and thrive in challenging times. Such digital platforms are designed to foster collaboration and integrate systems and processes across the organization.

Businesses that invested in digital enterprise platforms are reporting wide-reaching benefits, according to a survey of 200 C-level leaders conducted by ESI ThoughtLab.

The survey uncovered a notable gap between how CIOs and their C-suite peers perceive the benefits of workflow automation platforms. CIOs are far more likely than their peers to highlight benefits such as scalability and improved risk management.

However, CIOs, along with their peers, believe that challenges remain. If businesses want to fully realize the benefits of digital enterprise platforms, they must do more work to integrate systems and processes into the platform.

CIOs bullish on digital enterprise platforms

Over the past year, many organizations sought to boost business agility through digital enterprise platforms in response to the pandemic. Until recently, the utility of these platforms was an open question.

Now, organizations are reporting common benefits: more employee engagement, increased customer satisfaction, and higher profits. Most C-level leaders expect these benefits to reverberate for the next year or two. The number of firms expecting revenue gains in that period has doubled, while the number of firms anticipating rises in shareholder value and market share has tripled.

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But CIOs are more likely to highlight certain benefits than their peers. Only 15% of COOs and 8% of CEOs said that digital enterprise platforms are increasing the organization’s ability to scale, whereas 38% of CIOs linked platforms with scalability. A third of CIOs cited more effective risk management and compliance versus 18% of CEOs—and only 3% of COOs.

CIOs are more bullish about the future, too. Over the next one to two years, four times as many CIOs expect platforms to improve cross-enterprise visibility and shareholder value as compared with other C-level leaders. About six times as many CIOs expect platforms to enable faster issue resolution and problem solving.

Integration poses challenges

Throughout the pandemic, leaders primarily integrated technology and data, and employee and customer experiences on a single platform, as well as marketing and customer service.

Nearly a third of CIOs have already implemented a digital enterprise platform that integrates multiple functions, and 58% plan to do so.

However, notable gaps persist. While CIOs seem convinced that digital platforms play a key role in business agility, less than 2 out of 10 organizations have “fully or largely” integrated core areas into a digital platform. Without integration, organizations can’t fully realize the benefits of these platforms. C-level leaders agree they must do more.

Over the next year or two, 35% of businesses plan to create enterprise platforms that integrate multiple functions—up from 19% currently. More than 80% will integrate technology and data. At least 4 out of 10 will integrate experiences, finance, marketing, and human resources.

Nearly a third of CIOs have already implemented a digital enterprise platform that integrates multiple functions.

CIOs may be optimistic about the future because their integration plans are progressing quickly. Almost every CIO surveyed (98%) expects to largely integrate technology and data on their digital platform within two years. About half expect to integrate finance, accounting, marketing, customer service, and employee and customer experiences.

As a whole, CIOs are confident that their businesses can become agile if they invest in the right tools. However, it remains to be seen whether the C-suite will fully incorporate digital enterprise platforms into their vision for agility.