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Many CIOs feel overwhelmed by the prospect of leading the digitalisation drive while renovating core IT infrastructure of their companies deemed as the prerequisite for a digital future, according to a new survey.

Global research firm Gartner's poll of over 2,300 CIOs found 51% of respondents expressing concerns that the digital torrent was coming faster than they can cope. Additionally, 42% said they were concerned about having the talent needed to face the digital future.

However, in order to deliver on the 'bimodal future', Gartner found many in the mood to introduce significant changes in 2014 and beyond. A quarter said they had already made significant investments in public cloud, and the majority expected more than half of their company's business to be running over public cloud by 2020.

Some 72% of CIOs planned to change their technology and sourcing relationships over the next two to three years, and many were keen to partner with small companies and start-ups.

And while 45% of respondents said their companies had implemented agile methodologies for part of their development portfolio; most still needed to go further to create separate, multidisciplinary teams, with lightweight governance and new, digital skill sets and alternative sourcing models.

Dave Aron, vice president and Gartner fellow, opined that 2014 must be a year of significant change if IT chiefs are to help their businesses and public sector agencies remain relevant in an increasingly digital world.

"It will be a year of dual goals – responding to ongoing needs for efficiency and growth, but also shifting to exploit a fundamentally different digital paradigm. Ignoring either of these is not an option. All industries in all geographies are undergoing digital disruption. This is both a CIO's dream come true and a career-changing leadership challenge," he added.

However, Aron said Gartner's research had indicated that CIOs expect their IT budgets to remain broadly flat (increasing 0.2% on average) in 2014.

"This is especially challenging since there is a need to both renovate the core of IT systems and services, and exploit new technology options," he concluded.