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Half of boardroom leaders slash tech budgets amid economic uncertainty

Half of boardroom leaders admitted to slashing their tech budgets over the past year amid rampant inflation and fluctuating interest rates causing economic uncertainty, according to a new report from The IN Group.

Boardrooms in the US and UK have been hit hardest by economic turbulence, with 56 per cent cutting budgets in the US and 51 per cent in the UK, compared to only 41 per cent in the Netherlands and 39 per cent in Germany.

The findings were revealed in the Tech and the Boardroom report, commissioned by The IN Group via independent polling agency Censuswide, observing the biggest talent pain points faced by 700 tech and non-tech C-level executives across the UK, US, Germany and the Netherlands.

Although the turbulent economy has led to overall budgets being cut, there are signs of green shoots ahead, with 81 per cent saying they have plans to increase tech investment over the next 12 months.

Nick Baxter, CEO of The IN Group, comments: “It’s essential for the boardroom to invest in technology to drive digital transformation and to stay ahead of the game, especially in the face of economic turbulence. Technology evolution isn’t slowing down for anyone, so those who continue to align their business and technology strategies, fuelled by investment, will be best placed for growth when the economy picks up. Overall, it’s the responsibility of the entire C-suite to understand the power that tech such as AI and automation can bring, being the driving force for operational efficiency.”

Following the widespread innovation and adoption around rapidly evolving technologies, like AI, 78 per cent are looking to prioritise investment in automation in order to cut costs and boost efficiencies over the next year ahead, with a goal of boosting overall operational efficiency and business growth.

The findings also uncovered a broad consensus around synchronisation, with 82 per cent of US respondents saying their business and technology strategies are aligned, compared to 76 per cent in the UK, 74 per cent in Germany and 67 per cent in the Netherlands. The main focus of the boardroom’s technology strategy was revealed to be value creation, rather than value optimisation.

Overall, the executives polled felt that technology was successfully driving transformation across their business, with 79 per cent feeling it was effective.

Breno Gentil, Regional CIO, Heineken: “Technology has consistently delivered value for our business, enabling growth, driving productivity, simplification and future-proofing our company. Our priority investments are in digitising our route to consumers and unlocking the value of AI through a secure digital backbone of integrated and standardised data and business platforms.”

The survey also explored the boardroom’s current attitude towards working models, with nearly half (48 per cent) saying they are back to full time in-office working schedules. Interestingly, CEOs are at odds with tech leaders, with 64 per cent of CEOs leading the charge on a return to the office agenda, compared to just 42 per cent of tech leaders.

There was a significant disparity between markets, with 64 per cent of US respondents in the office five days a week, following the likes of X and Amazon who have publicly stated their return to office policies. In comparison, just 37 per cent in the UK and only 33 per cent in the Netherlands are expected to be in the office full time.

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