95pc of CTOs aim to increase or maintain tech spending levels, says EY report

26 Apr 2023

Ronan Walsh. Image: EY Ireland

Just 2pc of 150 Irish business leaders said they expected to reduce IT staff levels over the next two years.

Irish tech leaders are committing to spending on digital transformation over the next few weeks and months, according to EY Ireland’s Technology Leaders Survey 2023.

The professional services firm surveyed 150 Irish tech leaders during February and March of this year. These leaders worked in various sectors such as life sciences, tech, advanced manufacturing, financial services, retail and education.

EY found that 44pc of those surveyed said they are currently planning or are already running a digital transformation programme.

The vast majority (95pc) of CTOs plan to either increase (46pc) or maintain (49pc) their current technology spending levels over the next two years.

Although they are willing to invest in long-term tech transformation, many leaders appear less enthusiastic about investing in nascent technologies.

They are more likely to invest in tech that they can see immediate value in, such as process automation, data analytics, IoT and 5G.

Last month, Camunda CEO Jakob Freund made the case for gradual digital transformation which, according to EY’s findings, is an approach favoured by many Irish leaders.

In some areas, business leaders’ enthusiasm about a certain aspect of tech does not align to the reality of their organisation. For example, 39pc of respondents said they consider data analytics a critical technology for growth. However, just 11pc described their organisation as leveraging data analytics capabilities.

Enterprise-wide cloud adoption also remains down. According to EY’s findings only 15pc of respondents said that all their IT systems are already on the cloud, while only 26pc are pursuing a cloud strategy.

High reward, but not without risk

Ronan Walsh, consulting partner and head of technology consulting at EY Ireland, said that Irish organisations did appear to recognise the need to migrate to the cloud. However, he also said that they are aware that such a transition would not be easy or without risk.

Walsh said that tech transformation is “ultimately a high reward journey that requires buy-in from the very top of the organisation”.

“The focus for businesses in Ireland right now is firmly on adding value and future growth, and that is very welcome. Cost reduction is almost a by-product. It’s clear that Irish technology leaders do not view transformation programmes through a pure technology lens and are instead seeing them as enablers of growth and value creation across the entire organisation,” Walsh added.

The plans to keep momentum on tech transformation spending up could potentially spell positive developments for IT workers and jobseekers.

As well as questions about digital transformation spending, EY asked the tech leaders about their hiring plans.

Just 2pc said they expected to reduce IT staff levels over the next two years, while 93pc expect to either increase or maintain their current headcounts.

Almost a third (32pc) of those surveyed said they believed the IT skills shortage was the number one challenge to growth that they faced. This put it ahead of other challenges such as global recession fears and supply chain disruption.

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Blathnaid O’Dea was a Careers reporter at Silicon Republic until 2024.