Third of corporate leaders will need to be fully tech-savvy specialists by 2020

The corporate leaders of tomorrow will need to have a strong sense of how best to harness the benefits of technology for their organisations, according to the market intelligence firm International Data Corporation (IDC).

Understanding how to integrate technology is harder than it sounds, according to Crawford Del Prete, executive vice president and chief research officer at IDC . “We believe that on average about 30 per cent of CEOs by 2020 will have spent a substantial number of years of their careers in a technology leadership role,” Del Prete told the South China Morning Post. Corporate leaders who’ve rotated through multiple positions during the course of their career will be in a better position to bring benefits to an organisation, Del Prete said.

For example, a breadth of management roles, each lasting five years, can help nurture the necessary skills in today’s fast-moving marketplace, where companies are often required to pivot quickly between operating models. “If they weren’t that close to technology, of if they just think of technology as a commodity, they won’t understand how technology can be used to create new revenue, or leverage their information in a new way,” said Del Prete. He added that only about 5 to 10 per cent of CEOs have direct experience in roles of either chief information officer or technology strategist.

A number of business sectors have been moving quickly to highlight the importance of technology knowledge. These include retailers who want to leverage technology to transform their relationship with customers, as has been the trend recently in China, the United States and certain parts in Europe. Manufacturing and financial services have also embraced technology to help gain a competitive edge. On the contrary, the public sector, health-care and energy companies have put relatively less emphasis on technology experience in leadership, he added.

Still, Del Prete says he is impressed with how the public sector in China has been using technology to provide new services for its citizens. “It seems like this is happening at a faster rate in China than in other mature regions. This is probably because there is not as much existing infrastructure to modernise,” said Del Prete. A Boston Consulting Group report in January forecasted the internet-based economy in China could be worth US$16 trillion and create over 400 million jobs by 2035.

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