Gartner: Top priorities for tech CEOs to consider in 2021

By Kate Birch
From emerging trends and expected challenges to next steps, here’s what tech CEOs should know in 2021. And here are the actions to take, reports Gartn...

As tech CEOs look to the future with an eye on accelerating growth, a number of forces will impact the definition of what it means to be a technology and service provider. And these forces will reshape how tech CEOs approach key initiatives, including product strategy and launch, customer acquisition, business performance management and corporate development. 

That’s according to Gartner’s report Top Priorities for Tech & Service Providers: Leadership Vision for 2021.

Tech CEOs who understand and adapt to these key disruptions will be well-positioned to discover and respond to new opportunities for growth. According to Gartner, here are the emerging trends, expected challenges and next steps that tech CEO should be taking. 

The trends that will impact tech CEOs

The first trend is that cloud infrastructure and platform service providers will have significant implications for growth. The spectrum of dependence on cloud infrastructure and platform service providers will of course vary by organization, but Gartner predicts that by 2025, 95% of the software application providers that consume cloud platform services as part of their product offerings will also market, sell and provision their offerings through cloud platform marketplaces.

The next trend to note is that free trials and freemiums will become the new normal for enterprise IT offerings. Service providers will adopt business models, pricing and packaging that enable these options as essential tools for customer acquisition. These models will transform ‘proof of concept’ into ‘proof of value’ for customers, and enable tech CEOs to increase their organizations’ ability to close deals.

And the third trend is that moving forward, it will be key for CEOs to predict how disruption and geopolitical change affect demand generation and customer acquisition. Long-term changes such as those brought by pandemic or the evolution of two distinct digital ecosystems, on in the US and the other in China, will inform decisions about markets, technology, investment and supply chain for tech CEOs looking to accelerate growth.


The main challenges facing tech CEOs

Although tech CEOs will face many challenges throughout 2021, Gartner outlines two more urgent ones for leaders to begin strategizing for:

  1. Positioning does not fit new market realities Thanks to the abrupt global downturn, reduction in productivity and pressure on technology budgets, tech CEOs must reassess their ideal targets and revisit their understanding of buyer needs and ability to differentiate in the market.
  2. Growing the business by improving customer acquisition in post-COVID-19 times Cost optimization will be a major initiative for most organizations in the post-pandemic world. Tech CEOs need to position solutions to capture ‘smarter spending’ initiatives to acquire new clients and retain existing ones.

Actions for CEOs to prioritise in 2021

Given the challenges tech CEOs will encounter, Gartner recommends CEOs consider these two actions to help move the organization in the right direction:

Embrace new technology, partnerships and application ecosystems to drive growth
Collaborate with partners to create or participate in ecosystems that can elevate the value and competitiveness of every party involved. Tech CEOs must be prepared to address four key realities: 

  • Buyer demands for whole-product solutions 
  • Increasingly regional technology ecosystems 
  • Importance of defensive marketplace strategies solutions 
  • The need for delivery supply chain continuity

Support the shift to contingent and diverse workers collaborating with AI in virtual workspaces
Adapt organizational policies and procedures to foster the agility and innovation of contingent labour and increasing diversity across the organization. Identify and invest in AI to discover scenarios where human and AI workers can collaborate in virtual workplaces.

To summarise, Gartner offers five essential areas of focus for tech CEOs moving further into 2021 and beyond.

  1. Cloud Tech CEOs must adapt to thrive in a world where cloud infrastructure and platform service dominates every market.
  2. Service strategy Leading service providers will leverage assets and expertise, requiring a dynamic ecosystem to extend their business models.
  3. Pricing models Free trial and freemium offerings are no longer optional, as they become a ‘must have’ for buying team consideration.
  4. Talent Tech CEOs must evaluate and adapt their talent management strategies to stand out from the competitive crowd heading toward 2025.
  5. Geopolitics Tech CEOs should understand and adapt to the dynamics of geopolitical forces for growth and market differentiation.

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