1. Leading Courageously and Authentically in Times of Crisis. We are truly living in uncertain times. Businesses are being roiled by the global COVID-19 pandemic. The international epidemic is impacting everything from business continuity to cash flows to supply chains operations, resulting in dramatic shifts to remote work and changing customer behaviors. More than ever, CIOs and technology executives are being looked upon to guide the ship through the storm and apply their expertise in technology, process management and cultural change to enable the company to survive and thrive. In order to tackle these challenges head on, CIOs and technology executives must summon up courageous leadership and apply a fresh mindset to identify new opportunities for innovation and partner with the CEO and the Board to lead the organization through this upheaval.
2. Lead, Reimagine and Reinvent to Execute World-Class Strategies. In these highly disruptive times, CIOs and technology executives must be fully connected with the CEO and the Board to identify and execute on future-state business goals. In order to deliver on these expectations, CIOs and technology executives need to apply a fresh mindset, act courageously and encourage their teams to go outside their comfort zones to generate new waves of innovation and business value for the enterprise.
3. Winning the War on Talent. The talent shortage in IT is becoming more acute than ever, with 89% of CIOs and decision-makers saying it’s difficult for their companies to find skilled IT professionals, according to Robert Half Associates. Cybersecurity skills are at the top of the list, followed by cloud security, cloud computing and cloud architecture skills. Savvy CIOs are testing creative approaches to finding the right talent, including the use of AI tools to identify high-potential candidates outside of their customary field of vision. Others are going outside of traditional channels, seeking out people with strong analytical skills who can be trained in IT disciplines. Forward-looking CIOs and technology executives are increasingly taking steps to strengthen their own personal brands as a means of attracting and retaining top talent through speaking, media, and other opportunities.
4. Becoming Boardroom Ready. CIOs, CISOs and technology executives are expected by the CEO and the Board of Directors to contribute to corporate strategy and clearly articulate how technology can be leveraged to deliver business value. As such, technology executives need to continue to strengthen their communications skills in their interactions with the CEO and the Board. These steps can also benefit CIOs and technology executives who aspire to land board-level positions with non-profits, private and publicly held companies.
5. Placing Yourself in the Customer’s Shoes. As companies strive to become more customer-centric, CIOs and technology executives are in a prime position to identify and execute on opportunities for improving the customer experience. These insights are drawn not only from gaining a thorough understanding of the business and its customers but also through the support of internal customers – the organization’s employees. Many technology executives and their teams are gaining a deeper understanding of customer behaviors and interests by either experiencing what it’s like to be a customer of the company’s products or services or by working in a customer-facing role for a period of time to better understand and address their pain points.
6. The CIO as the Chief Innovation Officer. The mantra in business today is Disrupt or Die. Companies that fail to disrupt their existing business models or create new products or services quickly to address shifting customer interests will find themselves on the outside looking in. CIOs are perfectly positioned to blend their knowledge of the business with how technology can be harnessed to reimagine the business and transform the customer experience. Still, in order to succeed, CIOs and technology executives must foster a culture of innovation across the enterprise to help make innovation sustainable.
7. Blazing the Path to Secure Innovation. CISOs are looking to expand beyond their current roles in protecting enterprise assets to help the CEO and the C-suite to achieve its strategic goals. A big part of this involves guiding product and service teams to incorporate security at the front end of the development process instead of bolting security onto the back end of development efforts. A proactive approach can position the enterprise for greater agility and innovation.
8. The CIO as the Cultural Change Agent. The hardest part of business transformation is changing the culture. Employees are often resistant to change – they’re comfortable with the status quo. Because of their broad views across the enterprise, CIOs are well-suited to help guide cultural transformation, by setting an example through their actions and words and by continuously communicating their vision for the new culture.
9. Strengthening Your Personal Brand. As leaders in the C-suite, CIOs, CTOs and CISOs play a critical role in positioning the enterprise for continued growth and success. As organizational leaders, technology executives need to commandeer their own professional growth by continually nurturing and building their personal brands. Not only does this help to fuel the career ascent of dynamic technology executives, it also enables them to leverage their personal brands to attract and retain talent.
10. Creating a Workplace of Diversity and Inclusion to Foster Innovation. Numerous research studies reveal that companies which promote diversity across its executive teams and workforces typically have a stronger innovation pipeline and generate higher-than-average business performance. CIOs and technology executives who promote and foster diversity and inclusion within the enterprise position their organizations to attract talent while fueling innovation by drawing upon a wider variety of perspectives and ideas.
1. Deploying a Massively Distributed Workforce on Scale. As the COVID-19 pandemic forced businesses to rapidly shift to work-at-home strategies, this placed enormous pressure on technology leaders to ramp up access to VPNs, videoconferencing systems and distributed technologies to support a highly distributed workforce. Even after the infection rate from the virus has flattened, many business leaders expect to see large percentages of workforces remain remote, requiring the ability for teams to connect quickly using collaboration platforms such as Zoom and RingCentral.
2. Mastering Digital Strategy. Digital market disruption is creating havoc for companies across all industries. At the current churn rate, roughly half of the companies in the S&P 500 will be replaced over the next ten years, according to Innosight. In order for businesses to survive and thrive, courageous CIOs and technology executives must partner with their CEOs and Boards to identify how digital technologies such as artificial intelligence, automation, Big Data, analytics, the Internet of Things and cloud computing can be leveraged to craft customer-focused business models and enable the enterprise gain a competitive edge.
3. Harnessing the Promise of 5G. Now that the major wireless carriers have flipped the switch on the fifth generation of mobile wireless communications, consumers and businesses can expect to see faster speeds and lower latency as 5G begins to go coast-to-coast. Qualcomm estimates that 5G could deliver browsing and download speeds that are 10x to 20x faster than current 4G mobile networks. Early movers in retail, automotive, entertainment, healthcare, manufacturing and logistics stand to gain a competitive edge by introducing customer-friendly services such as virtual dressing rooms and augmented reality experiences which create competitive differentiation.
4. Identifying the Business Case for AI. In 2019, artificial intelligence continued to make further inroads into businesses – from helping to deliver more intuitive customer experiences to streamlining processes (Robotic Process Automation) and providing executives with deeper insights into customer and market shifts. Increasingly, CIOs and technology executives in the HMG community are sharing with us the need to identify specific use cases for AI and machine learning that can deliver true business value.
5. Developing a Sustainable Data Science Strategy. As companies strive to become more customer-focused, CIOs and technology leaders will be counted upon to step up their team’s efforts to mine and analyze unique customer data that can be used to develop new products and services and to create distinctive customer experiences.
6. RPA 2.0: Embracing the Human-Robot Partnership. As CIOs and business leaders continue to identify applicable use cases for robotic process automation (customer service, finance, accounting), technology leaders will increasingly partner with RPA providers to identify opportunities for handing off manual or time-intensive tasks to software robots to enable employees to focus on more meaningful cognitive activities.
7. Blending Privacy into Cybersecurity Strategies. As CISOs and other security leaders continue to battle the cyber threats facing their organizations, they also must address data privacy compliance requirements for the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and a host of other state and industry privacy regulations. It’s not just about regulatory compliance. Organizations that protect the privacy of their customers will also gain their trust and loyalty.
8. Shifting to a Zero Trust Security Model. As cyber threats continue to become more sophisticated and numerous – and as organizations expand their digital footprints - CISOs and security leaders are increasingly shifting to zero trust security models to protect the organization’s critical assets. Indeed, more than 60 percent of enterprise executives say their organizations are working towards or planning to introduce zero-trust security models into their organizations, according to a survey of 1,000 IT, security and engineering decision-makers conducted by Okta.
9. Thriving in a Hyperconverged World. As CIOs and their teams look to deliver greater business value to the enterprise, they’re shifting away from time and resource-intensive tasks such as operating data centers. This is part of the reason why a growing number of organizations are shifting to a hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) model, as it allows companies to avoid vendor dependency while providing IT teams with greater flexibility under a hybrid cloud environment.
10. Leveraging IoT and Edge Computing in the Connected World. Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and data are creating fresh insights for manufacturers and companies in other industries such as retail and entertainment. For instance, plant floor managers can draw upon IoT data and analytics to predict when a machine will require maintenance based on vibrations, sounds and other physical factors. Meanwhile, retailers are using IoT technologies to capture real-time customer data from kiosks and other sources. IoT technologies, combined with edge computing capabilities, can help executives to avoid unanticipated and expensive downtime for equipment and to quickly analyze and respond to changes in customer behavior.