Tech anxiety is on the rise

A new emotion is infecting the c-suites of top organisations.

According to a recent report conducted by Kin + Carta - there is a rising trend globally of business leaders feeling a significant amount of anxiety around their company's digital transformation efforts.

Tech anxiety is real and becoming more of a real business issue.

Uncertainty is everywhere. Trade tensions, political transitions, and regulatory changes have introduced unprecedented complexity. While the lingering effects of the global pandemic continue to impact supply chain resilience, workforce management, and consumer behavior. At the same time, technological disruption is advancing at an alarming rate.

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In response, there has been an increase in tech anxiety. Our research reveals 94% of leaders report tech anxiety among senior leadership in their organizations. Our survey found that cyber security is the most common source of anxiety for leaders. While research showing global cyberattacks rose by 7% in Q1 2023 suggests concerns over cyber security are unlikely to abate. Anxiety about artificial intelligence and machine learning is also commonplace. Combining concerns over AI and machine learning and generative AI, the case can be made that this emerging technology is causing more anxiety than anything else.
Topics that cause the most amount of anxiety amongst executives.

What we found the most alarming from the research done with business executives is just how few of them report having confidence in the data that they have available to them.

For business leaders across industries, data has emerged as the key driver for success. But not everyone feels they can rely on the data inside their organization. Just 30% of leaders fully trust their data, and although nearly half mostly trust it—almost 20% have somewhat or little trust.
While some organizations struggle with fragmented and siloed data, the need to establish a single source of truth has become paramount. Leaders cite optimization of processes and increased efficiencies, improved reporting and dashboarding, and a clear view of sales and marketing activity as their most critical data needs.

What's apparent here is that far too many business leaders still see technology as a project that needs to be undertaken to get up to speed and then somehow...that's it!

Technology is however a critically key part of how business is enabled in 2023 and beyond.

Business leaders need to develop themselves into technology-natives. Having a technology-lens as a modern business is a given.

Our sense here is that there is a significant challenge as to how technology is framed by many leaders. Instead of first designing what it is they are building, they appear to be trying to retrofit data and AI and cybersecurity patches into their old operational stack.

By the very nature of how business systems work - this approach then is just guaranteed to create even more anxiety. The current approach is manifesting stress - and operating from a position of insecurity like this does not bode well for the long-term sustainability of that business.

The transformation needed here doesn't start and stop with digital - it starts with worldviews, mindset and strategy. The approach should be to start there and build the future of the business from this vantage point.

2024 Leadership Priorities in Tech | Leading through tech anxiety
Kin + Carta’s survey of over 800 executives across the UK and US found that digital transformation is accelerating in almost every organization. In this report, we reveal a picture of an enterprise landscape that’s constantly being transformed by technology—creating huge opportunities and challenges.