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Investment in, anxiety out: How business leaders are keeping positive in 2023

The business world has undergone significant transformation in recent years. Challenges have approached in the form of a global pandemic, geopolitical crises and economic uncertainty, changing the way many organisations function at their core.

Even several years on, the effects of the pandemic are still sending ripples across organisations globally, especially with regards to the workplace and environment. Businesses have been compelled to re-evaluate their fundamental operations and adapt to the often repeated “new normal”. Despite the shifting landscape, business leaders have displayed resilience and are still maintaining a positive outlook on growth by investing in technological solutions.

In fact, according to Expereo’s recent Enterprise Horizons report, based on responses from over 650 CIOs at some of the largest businesses, 300 of which are headquartered in Europe, businesses are investing in technology more than ever before to capitalise on opportunities, drive global growth and overcome challenges.

It also identified that there are, of course, key challenges to this investment – both real and perceived - and the shifts in priority spending areas reflect how global organisations are responding to those challenges.

How businesses are investing their time and money to overcome challenges

Identifying these key obstacles and the possible solutions to them is what drives investment and decision-making forwards. CIOs have revealed that upgrading security is one of the biggest challenges that keep them up at night, and today’s security environment was cited as the biggest challenge to growth in 2023 by 33% of those surveyed. With a shifting security landscape leading to further vulnerabilities, bad actors are finding new ways to penetrate and disrupt systems. This year alone, cybersecurity has been prevalent, with numerous large-scale businesses facing cyber-attacks and data breaches.

Faced with such obstacles, six out of 10 CIOs within Europe named security as their planned area of top investment, and 60% are planning on increasing investment into this year, highlighting just how much of a priority it is within the current landscape.

Another key challenge facing businesses is the severe talent shortage across the globe, with expertise in areas such as data analytics and automation, and AI and machine learning, in particularly high demand. Paying competitive salaries is no longer the motivation to attract leading talent, and thus, CIOs are increasingly looking to increasingly automate their tech infrastructure and upskill existing teams. In fact, 58% are looking to increase investment in AI this year, and with a further 57% investing in automation and analytics.

However, one-third of European CIOs also revealed that legacy technology is constraining their business. Logistically, retiring and replacing outdated tech across a global business is no easy feat, and it requires investment into leadership, skills and training to ensure this process flows smoothly. It’s no surprise then that over one quarter of CIOs named skills and talent acquisition as the biggest hindrance to growth.

The value of Managed Service Providers

Managed Service Providers (MSPs) are a severely underused resource which can go a long way to aiding the aforementioned challenges, and further boosting optimism for growth, despite the economic headwind.

Some CIOs may take a ‘do-it-yourself’ approach to tech procurement and management, which can lead to complex systems of SaaS applications, cloud infrastructure and network connectivity. Debunking the myth that MSPs are a cost intensive ‘nice-to-have’ therefore needs to be addressed.

In fact, MSPs can provide real value in helping to keep operations streamlined, plug skills gaps, and ensure they are connected with the right expertise and guidance across local markets which is invaluable to growth. This is shown by the fact that nearly half of CIOs across business services, communications & IT and manufacturing companies believe local regulations and compliance are a priority when expanding into a new region.

By outsourcing critical business processes to MSPs, organisations can also free up internal resources and streamline business strategy.

From an economic challenges perspective, MSPs can also offer solutions that provide scalability and flexibility, allowing businesses to adapt to changing technology requirements and market conditions without incurring significant costs.

Tech leaders must be aware of these benefits and demonstrate a proactive approach to managing their technology stack. With global boardrooms evidently looking to bolster investments this year, MSPs and businesses can work together to navigate challenges, and more economic turbulence to come.

Organisations that can recognise the value of MSPs and with a willingness to invest in their technologies, will be well-equipped to bounce back into business and continue to grow, despite the barriers currently facing them. We expect that this year and beyond, MSPs will prove themselves to be not just an additional expense, but instead a crucial partner in driving efficiency, security and growth in the digital age.

Written by Expereo CRO Ben Elms (pictured).