Barclaycard: four in 10 companies up R&D spending to take advantage of new technology

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New research from Barclaycard, which processes nearly half of the nation’s credit and debit card transactions, shows how Chief Information Officers (CIOs) are driving rapid change in UK businesses by seizing the potential of next-generation technologies.

In today’s competitive business environment, organisations recognise the critical role technology innovation plays in achieving their goals. Four in 10 companies (42%) have increased R&D spending in the last five years, and over three-quarters (77%) have adopted more agile ways of working so they can be swift in testing new approaches.

To set their companies up for success, CIOs aren’t just considering the potential of new technologies, they are actively embracing them. Three in ten CIOs (30%) say their business is piloting or using Internet of Things (IoT) solutions, with a further 56 per cent planning to implement such projects within the next five years. The main factors attributed to driving this transformation are improved business intelligence (31%) and sales efforts (23%) – with greater connectivity between people and devices cited as a fundamental factor in enhancing operational efficiencies.

Amongst other technology of interest to CIOs is blockchain, which 35% have adopted or are piloting to provide greater transparency and increased security for data. In addition, 45% are using or testing artificial intelligence (AI), with a further four in ten CIOs (43%) planning to adopt AI in the next five years. One in five (20%) are also using or testing quantum computing.

The evolving role of the CIO

Against this backdrop, the CIO’s role is fast evolving as tech leaders take on new responsibilities and are required to collaborate more with others across their organisation. Accordingly, 78% believe today’s CIOs need a broader skill set than they did five years ago, as they focus on meeting wider business goals such as driving growth (53%) or being more accountable for improving customer experience (51%).

As a result, 53% are more aligned with other teams across the business than they were five years ago, while 35% work in closer collaboration with their CEO. Payments are also now a greater focus for four in ten CIOs (42%), with three-quarters (73%) saying payment technology has become an increasingly prominent topic in boardroom discussions. As technology leaders look to generate valuable business insights, 70% would like to have access to more payments data to improve decision-making.

CIOs need access to talent and resources to train existing teams

While CIOs are enthusiastic about the potential of new technologies, they recognise that this rapid pace of change must be supported by continual up-skilling of employees. Over half (55%) are extremely or moderately concerned that the expertise of their teams won’t keep up with the needs of their organisation. A similar proportion (51%) are worried they won’t be able to recruit enough employees with the right technical skills after Brexit.

However, significant progress has been made already to bridge an impending skills gap, with 72% of CIOs saying colleagues across the business are more tech-savvy than five years ago. A similar proportion – 71% – claim their C-Suite colleagues are now more knowledgeable about technology issues.

Keith Little, CIO, Barclaycard, said: “While technology developments like artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things have been the subject of much discussion in recent years, our data shows this isn’t just hype. In fact, many CIOs are already well underway with testing and implementing such technologies to benefit their business. AI and machine learning, for example, are opening up new capabilities to benefit customers, such as fraud detection and customer insights.

“Over the next five years, the technology transformation of UK businesses looks set to gather pace as the solutions currently at pilot stage enter mainstream use across organisations. With this in mind, it’s important that CIOs focus on building the skills and expertise of their employees as an ongoing priority.”