Digital Leadership Report

One of the most influential global studies on technology strategy

About the Report

The 2023 Nash Squared Digital Leadership Report is the world’s largest and longest-running survey of senior technology decision-makers. Now in its 25th year, the report provides a fantastic opportunity to look back over key trends that have shaped the sector and what the next decade will bring.

data points
years of data
What you need to know
Budget caution, but investment remains

Budget growth expectations have dropped significantly from last year. But after the hyper growth that we saw both during and coming out of the pandemic, technology spend and investment in people could be seen as returning to more ‘normal’ levels.
Almost half of digital leaders expect their overall technology budget to increase during the next 12 months – a figure that’s broadly in line with pre-pandemic years.

expect a budget increase
Top 3 aims
Operational efficiency, new products, customer experience
AI – a new Wild West?

The arrival of large-scale generative AI has led many to believe we are at a tipping point. But four in ten are unprepared for the implications of generative AI, and there are clear concerns on regulating it, as well as issues with data privacy and data accuracy.
Our respondents wholly acknowledge that AI requires heavier regulation. Nine in ten assert this, but most believe that regulation will not solve the issue.

are unprepared for the implications of generative AI
think it needs more regulation
Cyber issues down, but for how long?

Major cyberattacks appear to be declining. This may be surprising news for some; however many digital leaders are beginning to view cybercrime as a ‘cost of doing business’.
Also, the nature of attacks is changing, with the biggest jumps in threats coming from well-resourced foreign powers and competitors. Many digital leaders are concerned that generative AI, with its ability to mimic humans at scale, will open up a whole new line of attack in the future.

experienced major attack in last two years
fear attack from foreign powers
fear attack from competitors
Skills shortage less intense

This year sees headcount growth expectations decline, jumping from an all-time peak during the pandemic to something more in line with the decade prior to the pandemic. The focus for organisations has moved from growing headcount, to retaining, engaging and building the effectiveness of their existing teams. The scarcest skills are data engineers, enterprise architects, software engineers and technical architects.

report talent shortage
average proportion of directly employed team members
Hybrid working improves diversity

Six in ten organisations now have a policy for employees to be in the office at least one day per week with larger organisations more likely to have such policies. Hybrid working continues to improves diversity with digital leaders who limiting office time to one or two hiring 27% more women than their peers with five-day mandates. Great news for those with caring responsibilities, and one day this might benefit as many men as women.

have a policy in place
are required in the office 3 days or less
Net zero – almost half have no plans

If you are looking for good news on sustainability, look away. Just under half of digital leaders said that their organisation had no plan to reach net zero. Where plans are in place, almost half set their sights on 2030 and beyond, and here’s some good news: six in ten expect to deliver on their plan, with almost everyone else expecting to get close.

have no plans to reach net zero
with net zero target expect to meet it
Digital leaders (re)gaining influence

In 2017 we began to see a decline in executive committee membership, as technology became increasingly owned and operated from outside the traditional technology team. More recently, membership has climbed up again – to seven in ten, and close to its highest recorded level. The influence of the digital leader tends to grow when there are new technology challenges and right now, with the proliferation of new technologies, digital leaders can offer an invaluable perspective.

of CIOs on the executive committee
25 years – what have we learnt?

Back at the start of 1998 we had yet to experience a smartphone, or search Google, or post an update to friends on Facebook. The only thing you could buy on Amazon were books. Today we have smartphones that back to 1988 would be in the world’s top 500 most powerful computers. The potential for technology is incredible. But also, so is the potential of the digital leader. One thing is for sure: it has never been a more exciting time to be in technology.

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