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Over 94% of enterprises have some form of user experience initiative underway, according to a new survey from multicloud provider Rackspace Technology.

Customer experience is overwhelmingly a priority — ahead of IT security, strategy, and compliance — and tech applications are a key driver in this area, Rackspace said in a survey of 1,420 IT decision-makers. Over half (55%) of survey respondents credited applications with enhancing customer experience while providing more availability to services (48%), security (45%), engagement with products and services (41%), and process improvement (39%).

Only 6% of respondents reported having no customer experience strategies or initiatives in place.

When it comes to enhancing customer experience, 55% of survey respondents credited applications, such as those that can process customer data, simplify application submission, or deliver more immersive experiences. Applications can also provide mobile accessibility, which tends to be a necessity rather than a nice-to-have.

Tech knowledge in the C-suite

Beyond customer experience, application modernization, and future plans, respondents also answered questions about how well they believe their managers and executives understand key technologies. The findings revealed that while about half of CEOs (49%) and most CIOs and CTOs recognized the benefit of modernizing applications, awareness is much lower among other C-suite executives, like CFOs and COOs.

While a vast majority of respondents (88%) believe executives recognize the bottom-line benefits of applications, this awareness applied mostly to CEOs, CIOs, and CTOs, with a noticeable drop-off across the rest of the C-suite.

According to the survey, about half of CEOs were particularly aware of the strategic importance of applications, along with CIOs (55%) and CTOs (53%), but only 22% of CMOs, 23% of COOs, 34% of CFOs, and 6% of CROs knew about the benefits apps offer their company’s business. But there are signs awareness is increasing: 90% of respondents reported that senior management has a better understanding of the benefits of applications in their business than they did just five years ago.

The survey also pinpointed some barriers organizations still face when it comes to adapting application technologies, including resistance to change, lack of buy-in to digital transformation strategy, lack of expertise, and lack of support from leadership. Among respondents, the most common barriers cited were fear of negatively impacting existing customer experience (28%), the use of legacy IT systems (26%), and limited budgets (24%).

The global survey, conducted by Coleman Parers Research, included responses from IT decision-makers at companies with $300 million annual earnings in the Americas, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. The respondents spanned industries including manufacturing, financial services, retail, government/public sector, and health care.

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