In brief

In brief

  • CIOs should look to innovation as a pervasive driver of business revival in 2021.
  • Adopting a cloud-first approach for digital transformation also builds resilience in future.
  • Designing a collaborative working environment enhances productivity and employee well-being.
  • Adapting to the new ways customers engage your business means turning to next-gen virtual tools.

Chief Information Officers (CIOs) played a critical role in enabling their businesses to respond to the COVID-19 crisis early on. Information technology (IT) infrastructure and collaboration tools were set up to provide alternative ways of working. And investment priorities were recalibrated to accommodate rapidly changing business needs as well as financial constraints. For those who survived the initial shock, the question is: Now what? Since there is no going back to business as usual, it is time for companies to turn the page.

In our quarterly CIO Outlook, we put the cap on a historic year and outline key steps for the next 60-90 days in 2021.

CIOs look to manage future uncertainty

Accenture’s CxO Survey included responses from CIOs, indicating trends and their perspectives on what is top of mind.


of CIOs expect significant shifts in work design, culture, and mindset.


of CIOs feel their company will fundamentally change the way it engages with customers.


of CIOs say innovation will be a pervasive growth driver in the next six months.

Looking ahead: Resilience and agility

CIOs are responding with urgency to build a technological foundation for resilience and agility that can help their companies manage future uncertainty. We have identified the top priorities for business revival to focus on cloud, employees, and customers.

Build resilience with cloud at the core

Cloud helps the business innovate faster and create resilience by eliminating single points of failure in supply chains.

Design a collaborative working environment

Virtual workrooms and collaboration tools enhance employee productivity and well-being as companies balance work from home and return to work.

Adapt to new ways customers engage your business

In today’s world, companies are turning to virtual technologies to merge digital convenience and safety and create meaningful customer experiences.

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CxOs expect major shifts in work design, culture, and mindset, and this trend is accelerating.

The case for digital transformation

Digital transformation as the solution for business revival and growth may not be new, but the urgency is. CIOs need to accelerate their company’s technology strategy to respond to customer demands and safeguard their future. The focus should be on building a foundation for resilience and agility. This can be achieved through a future-state architecture that can help the business better manage uncertainty and volatility.

As a strategy, digital transformation is no longer a “nice to have” but a “must have” to future-proof business. But digital transformation requires rethinking how work gets done, who does it, and how consumers engage and experience it all. Essentially, companies will have to move the five levers of change–strategy, organization, practices, technology, and talent–to continuously develop and scale their capabilities and skills to cope with volatility and adapt to a dynamic world.

Future-state architecture means there will be no final state. IT will be agile and in continuous evolution to adapt to a constantly changing reality.

Frédéric Brunier

Senior Managing Director – Technology Strategy & Advisory, Europe

Tobias Hirsch

Managing Director – Industry Lead, Capital Markets, Austria, Switzerland, Germany

Greg Douglass​

Senior Managing Director – Technology Strategy & Advisory​


CIOs rise to the challenge of a rapidly evolving role

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