CIO Priorities over next 12-18 months
While 2020 and 2021 would go in the history as the years of Pandemic, it is also true that 2020 and 2021 were also the years that took the digital and IT interventions in the organizations to a different level. Be it digitizing internal processes or customer facing processes and making them ‘touchless’ or focus on Cloud migration or on use of technologies like AI, ML, RPA, Cloud, last two years have been game changers from usage of technology perspective.
IT strategy or IT plans of nearly all organizations had to be rewritten over last two years as no one had imagined at the beginning of 2020 what the world will go thru over next two years and what they would need to do from digital interventions perspective in their organizations.
People at all levels in organizations also realized that had it not been for technology, “Work from Home” or “virtual meetings” would not have been possible during pandemic and companies would have faced bigger issues.
CIOs and their IT teams tried their best in the last two years to ensure that not only employees are able to work smoothly and securely from their homes or any other remote locations, but they also provide technology solutions that take care of changing customer expectations and emerging business needs.
Now, as the world is hopefully transitioning out of Pandemic, the expectations from IT from management, employees, customers and partners and other stakeholders have sky rocketed. It is not about keeping the lights on but about technology enabling each and every aspect of business and its growth.
Another thing that has happened is realization in lot of business managers in organizations about the benefits of going paperless and totally digital. Cloud, AI & ML, IOT, digital payment gateways, virtual meetings, business continuity etc have now become part of business lingo of companies rather than just being in IT domain.
So, what does it mean for CIOs and their teams going forward? IT has decisively moved from ‘push’ to ‘pull’ – there is enough pull from business about technology interventions in their area and expectations have gone through roof. Onus is now on IT teams to meet these expectations and if these are not met, I am sure there will be a huge increase in Shadow IT as business managers would want those tools and technologies irrespective.
With this background, the following could be top five priorities for CIOs over next 12-18 months.
• Modernize, Consolidate and Rejuvenate IT: In the last 2 years as the CIOs and their teams worked overtime on various IT initiatives, somewhere the modernization of current applications and infrastructure took a back seat. Also, there have been many initiatives that have been adhoc (and that was perhaps the need of hour).
As such, as CIOs now need to look back at as to what got missed out in 2 years and what may not eventually fit into IT strategy. I expect a major focus on IT Modernization and Consolidation going forward as companies have also put up many ‘digital islands’ in last 2 years. IT policies and support processes and mechanisms also need to be relooked considering the lessons learnt over last couple of years and the increasing expectations of both internal and external customers.
• Accelerate the Digital Wave: Reality today is that at the back of mind of each business leader, there is a thought that such pandemic or disruption could happen again and that technology is one of the key elements that can help the organizations tide over any such eventuality. So, companies are today ready to not only welcome technology projects but would like those to be done at a never seen before pace. Expectation many times is IT projects should now be done in few weeks if not in few days.
CIOs and their teams need to do their best to accelerate this digital wave and help their organizations transform digitally - some of the technologies that will play a key role in this transformation would include Cloud computing, Internet of Things (IoT); Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning; Robotic Process Automation (RPA); Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, Mobility, digital payments, Block Chain.
CIOs would need to also hone their teams Project Management skills as lot of parallel initiatives and multi tasking would be going on.
• Focus on making organizations Cyber safe: Year 2021 saw maximum number of cyber attacks globally till date and 2022 is expected to be even worse. The attacks– be it phishing, malware; ransomware, spyware, Trojans, financial frauds, hacking, denial of services or other attacks – are growing and becoming more sophisticated.
With an ever increasing Attack surface area both due to increasing technology interventions including IOT and due to employees working from multiple devices and from multiple locations and cyber attackers using even more sophisticated tools, cyber security has to be a huge focus area for CIOs. It has to be about focussing on all the facets of policy and procedures, technology and people. From a technology perspective to make organizations cyber safe, I feel Artificial intelligence, Cyber threat intelligence and adopting zero trust security model could play a key role in making organizations secure
• Focus on Analytics: As digitization in the organizations increases, so do the opportunities for data analytics. Good analytical abilities not only help organizations optimize their performances, reduce costs, improve customer and employee delight, improving products, increasing quality etc. but also many times identify new business opportunities, revenue streams and even new business models.
CIOs need to focus on advance data analytics capabilities in the organization and also act as a change agents to bring in a data driven culture in the organization.
• Focus on Talent: We all are aware of major challenge that CIOs and IT organisations globally are facing today – huge talent shortage. To support the current areas, enhance them and to explore all the new areas CIOs need trained manpower.
CIOs would need to focus a lot on retention of current talent, upskilling them and also attraction of new talent. In addition, IT consulting organizations and gig workers / freelancers / start-ups could be a major source of talent for the CIOs and CIO would need to focus on them.
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