Companies spent an additional US$15 billion a week during the pandemic’s first wave when it comes to tech investments, said KPMG recently.
The extra spending was aimed to to secure home working during the pandemic and was one of the biggest surges in tech investments in history, according to a survey of 4,200 IT leaders from organisations with a combined technology spend of more US$250 billion.
Survey results indicate respondents spent more than their annual budget rise in just three months, as the global crisis hit, and lockdowns began to be enforced.
Four in ten respondents report that their companies have experienced more cyber attacks despite this huge surge of spending with security and privacy being the top investment during the pandemic.
More than three quarters of these attacks were from phishing (83%), and almost two thirds from malware (62%) suggesting that the massive move to home working has increased exposure from employees.
Organisations have struggled to find skilled cyber security professionals to support this dramatic shift to home-working, reporting that cyber security (35%) is now the most ‘in demand’ technology skill in the world. This is the first time a security related skill has topped the list of global technology skill shortages for more than a decade.
Tech budgets to be under more strain over the year ahead
Although technology spend has risen dramatically during the pandemic, the survey found that technology budgets will be under more strain over the year ahead, KPMG pointed out.
Prior to COVID-19, 51% of IT leaders expected a budget rise in the next 12 months, but during the pandemic this number declined to 43%, according to survey results.
This still represents a net increase in budgets and remains almost twice as high as IT spend in 2009 - in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis, KPMG said.
Other key findings
Digital companies pull away. Digital Leaders were more likely than non-digital leaders to make additional technology investments as a result of COVID-19 – with 50% more organisations that are ‘very’ or ‘extremely effective’ at using digital technologies spending an additional 21-50%.
These investments focused on large-scale implementations of distributed cloud (42%) and SaaS (34%). The crisis has served to emphasize a growing divide between organisations driving their strategy through technology, and those that aren’t.
Concerns over mental health. Eight in ten respondents during COVID-19 are concerned about the mental health of their team, which has resulted in 58% of respondents putting programmes in place to support their staff.
Cloud investment up. After investment in security and privacy (47%), investment in infrastructure and the cloud was the third most important technology investment during COVID-19, with the number of respondents actively considering distributed cloud nearly doubling in just 12 months (from 11% to 21%).
Skill shortage. Prior to COVID-19, 2020 skill shortage remained close to an all-time high. Subsequently, shortages in tech talent have remained high, only marginally dropping compared to the 2008 global financial crisis.
In addition to cyber security skills (35%), the next three most scarce technology skills are organisational change management (27%), enterprise architecture (23%) and technical architecture and advanced analytics both at 22%.
The implications for talent management
This unexpected and unplanned surge in technology investments has also been accompanied by massive changes in how organisations operate — with more organisational change in the last six months than we have seen in the last ten years, said Bev White, CEO of Harvey Nash Group.
“Success will largely be about how organisations deal with their culture and engage with their people,” White noted. “In a world where location has dissolved, where the office now includes the kitchen table, and where more than 80% of respondents are concerned about the mental health of their teams, organisations will need to reformulate their employee offer to attract and retain the talent they need to support them through the pandemic, and beyond.”