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9 in 10 CTOs believe technical debt to be biggest challenge

New research from STX Next, an IT services and consulting company, has found that 91 per cent of CTOs see technical debt as their biggest challenge heading into 2024.

The survey found that the second most prominent challenge highlighted by CTOs is capacity, cited by 68 per cent, suggesting that technical leaders are still grappling with staffing and employee attrition. This highlights the competition across the sector for skilled professionals and the industry-wide shortage that is making projects more difficult to fulfil in good time.

The findings were taken from STX Next’s 2023 Global CTO Survey, which surveyed 500 global CTOs about the biggest challenges facing their organisation.

Other key findings from the research included

  • Security is the third most prominent challenge at 62%, suggesting that many are still battling to tame the rise in ransomware and other cyberattacks.
  • To add to CTOs’ existing woes when it comes to hiring, employee retention is also a significant headache, with 42% of respondents suggesting it was one of their foremost concerns.
  • Another prominent constraint to performance is the lack of budget, with more than half (52%) of CTOs highlighting it.
  • Overcommitment is another key challenge for CTOs when it comes to delivery. A fifth (22%) said that overcommitment causes problems, followed by technical debt at 14% and communication failures at 12%.

Ronald Binkofski, CEO at STX Next said, “our survey shows that economic uncertainty has placed added pressure on businesses looking to grow and succeed. The skills shortage in the technology industry that has long been on the minds of leaders continues to place pressure on teams. This is particularly pertinent given the persistent danger of cyberattacks.

“Overwhelmingly, technical debt and refactoring are the most pressing concern for CTOs, perhaps brought on by the skills shortage leading to sub-optimal solutions being implemented to save time and money. Although driven by necessity in many cases, these short-term fixes will no doubt place strain on businesses as they require more work in the long run.

“With capacity being CTOs’ next biggest concern, the data demonstrates a clear need for strategic planning so that businesses can be agile enough to ride out the challenges of the coming years and successfully meet the needs of customers and employees.”

Ronald believes that scaling will be the biggest area of focus for technical leaders in the next two years.

He added, “as we look ahead to the coming year, success for CTOs will be defined by their ability to balance a commitment to consistent delivery while simultaneously accommodating growth.

“Economically and efficiently scaling an organisation’s tech capabilities, teams, culture, and processes is no easy feat. To do this, CTOs must embrace technology that can easily be scaled up according to business needs, adopt modern engineering practices, and foster a culture of continuous learning and innovation at a minimum.

“Crucially, it’s also about being careful not to scale too quickly or commit to overly ambitious projects: achieve a balance that is manageable for the business in the long run, and organisations can put themselves on a solid, sustainable growth trajectory.”

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