COVID-19 forces one of biggest surges in tech investment in history, survey finds

The 2020 Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey reveals that companies spent the equivalent of around $15 billion extra a week on technology during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is mainly due to the sudden pivot to the work-from-home setup of employees to ensure business continuity.

The survey finds that “this was one of the biggest surges in technology investment in history — with the world’s IT leaders spending more than their annual budget rise in just three months, as the global crisis hit, and lockdowns began to be enforced.”

Considered to be the largest IT leadership survey in the world in terms of the number of respondents, the 2020 Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey, now on its 22nd year, had over 4,200 CIOs and technology respondents in leadership positions from 108 countries. The survey took place in two pulses: pre-COVID-19 which was commenced on Dec. 17, 2019 and during the pandemic (lockdowns) June 5-Aug. 10, 2020.

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Harvey Nash is part of Harvey Nash Group, a global professional services organization with three key areas of focus: Technology recruitment, IT solutions and Leadership services. KPMG is a global network of professional firms providing Audit, Tax and Advisory services.


“While every CIO (chief information officer) is responding to these forces differently, one thing remains consistent; the urgency to act swiftly and decisively,” said Steve Bates, principal, KPMG in the United States and global leader of KPMG International’s CIO Center of Excellence. “Technology has never been more important to organizations’ ability to survive and thrive.”

As recent cybersecurity reports show, the increase in cyber attacks prompted companies to improve its security posture. Remote work opens vulnerabilities in IT security because individual devices are connected to home routers which do not have the kind of security infrastructure in a corporate environment. Four in 10 IT leaders said their organizations experienced more cyber attacks during the pandemic. Over three quarters of these attacks were from phishing (83%), and almost two-thirds from malware (62%).

As a result, the survey found that cyber security (35%) is now the most “in demand” technology skill in the world.The report said that this is the first time a security-related skill has topped the list of global technology skills shortages for over a decade.


The survey found that the investments were focused on large-scale implementations of Distributed Cloud (42%) and SaaS or Software as a Service (34%). Cloud was the third most important technology investment following security and privacy. A significant number of IT leaders are actively considering Distributed Cloud nearly doubling in just 12 months (from 11% to 21%). The big winner in this surge in IT investment according to the report is the SaaS. Large-scale implementations more than tripled from 7% in 2019 to 23% this year. One in six organizations put one in place in the last 12 months.

“This unexpected and unplanned surge in technology investment has also been accompanied by massive changes in how organizations operate — with more organizational change in the last six months than we have seen in the last 10 years,” said Bev White, CEO of Harvey Nash Group. “Success will largely be about how organizations deal with their culture and engage with their people.”

Almost half (47%) ot the IT leaders admitted that COVID-19 has permanently accelerated digital transformation and drove the adoption of emerging technologies such as airtificial intelligence (AI), automation, blockchain, and machine learning (ML). The small scale implementations of AI and ML have jumped up from 21% before COVID-19 to 24% now, a significant jump in a period of only a few months.