Sixty percent of IT leaders around the world cited bolstering operational efficiency as a "critical area of focus," compared with only 39% who noted customer growth and retention, TechRepublic reports. Data quality and management improvements were deemed of critical importance by 50% of respondents, making such consideration among the top three areas of focus for IT leaders in the U.S., Brazil, Germany, France, and the U.K., but only 23% gave similar focus to economic downturn preparations, a report from the Qualtrics XM Institute revealed. Other leading critical focus areas include enhancing IT platform and operations satisfaction among employees, IT platform and system consolidation, and inter-organizational innovation. While 89% have emphasized the importance of having their organizations improve their agility in responding to unexpected incidents, more than 80% noted the value of strengthening experience management capabilities within their organizations. However, lacking strategy, technology, and critical skills have been hampering XM efforts, according to the report.