Rob Preston, Editorial Director in Oracle’s Content Central organization, wrote an article for Forbes about the top 10 strategic priorities that CIOs should have in 2019. Rob explains that CIOs are headed into 2019 “amid a relatively strong, though volatile, global economy.” CIOs must often make hard choices that lead their company into an age of new digital projects and innovation. The goal is to accelerate the pace of growth while locking down low costs. It’s not always an easy task. While change doesn’t happen overnight, you have to start somewhere to get the ball rolling.
The priorities of a CIO may vary depending on the size of the organization, the industry they’re in, or their desire for change and ability to invest. However, the 10 priorities listed in Rob’s article should serve as a starting point for CIOs as they head into the new year.
Top 10 Strategic Priorities for CIOs
The top 10 strategic priorities for CIOs in 2019 include:
- Explore new business models—don’t just digitize what your company already does.
- Buck the information security status quo.
- Get more involved in product development.
- Tap the full potential of the Internet of Things.
- Get your arms around 5G.
- Narrow your priorities.
- Cultivate a culture of innovation.
- Invest more, and more creatively, in your people.
- Embrace the accelerating pace of change.
- Move the revenue and profit needle.
Explore New Business Models
IDC estimated that enterprises worldwide will spend roughly $2.1 trillion on technology and related services in 2019 to manage digital transformation initiatives. In order to get the most out of these investments, it’s essential to build wholly new digitally based business models, revenue streams, and customer relationships. It’s not enough to just digitize existing processes. It’s up to CEOs to lay the foundation for a new business model moving forward, and CIOs must help shape the business strategy at the CEO and board levels. Challenging your core business strategies and tactics will likely be necessary as part of responding to the disruption that is coming to today’s workforce.
Buck The Security Status Quo
According to research by Oracle and KPMG, two-thirds of the 450 surveyed companies reported security disruptions in the past two years. More than half said they had experienced a breach-related financial impact. CIOs and other IT executives told the Society for Information Management (SIM) that security is the #1 management issue. This is the second year that it has taken the #1 spot. For the last five years, security has been said to be the most worrisome concern. Security stakes are higher than ever, yet IT infrastructures have become more complex than ever. This complexity results in vulnerabilities that become the perfect pressure point for security breaches. To prevent this, 70 percent of enterprise security environments have started using cognitive/artificial intelligence technologies to help humans fight cybercrime. New autonomous technologies like self-managing databases and other highly automated Cloud platform services use machine learning algorithms to continuously patch, tune, back up, and upgrade themselves without the need for human intervention, all while the system is running.
Get More Involved in Product Development
In today’s workforce, CIOs are becoming more involved with teams working on product security, reliability, maintenance, uptime, and other digital improvements. IT teams are no longer focuses solely on delivering ERP, HR, and other systems to support the company. Now, with IoT and advanced analytics, IT teams can deliver more value to the company. You may even be able to move applications to the Cloud and offload the heavy lifting of system maintenance, security, and uptime. This would allow you to free up time and money for analytics and other product-oriented IT investments.
Tap Into the Potential of IoT
Sensors are getting cheaper, reliable connectivity is becoming more plentiful, and scalable data processing power is just a Cloud provider away. Companies are now acting on insights derived from data collected from railroad tracks, factory floor machines, electricity grids, lighting systems, toothbrushes, body parts, etc. in order to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and upkeep of products and services.
More than anywhere, IoT is playing a huge part in the agriculture industry. The world’s population today is near 7.2 billion. That’s roughly double what it was in 1970, yet we have a fraction of the arable land. Luckily, food supplies have managed to keep up, thanks in part to IoT-driven productivity improvements. Both conventional and greenhouse farmers are using IoT sensors that relay data about whether irrigation, fertilizers, and other agricultural inputs are working or not. This helps farmers optimize inputs and identify the best day and time to harvest crops. Ultimately, this data from IoT technology has helped grow food using only one-tenth of the amount of water used on a conventional field outdoors.
Ask yourself, how can IoT revolutionize your company or entire industry?
Get Your Arms Around 5G
It’s not too early for CIOs to start working 5G capabilities into their IT roadmaps. It can help handle IoT, Cloud computing, and machine learning/artificial intelligence workloads. Mobile communications providers are already running trials of 5G, the next-generation mobile networking infrastructure, so real-world applications should start showing up around 2020.
The two main advantages that 5G has over 4G are:
- High speed
- Low latency
5G has a bandwidth of up to 10 gigabits per second per device, and it has network delay down to between one and four milliseconds. This low latency will support applications that demand near real-time and highly reliable data communications. In addition, 5G has “network slicing” capability, which will let companies design targeted, application-oriented networks in software on the fly.
A handful of large enterprises will roll out such localized wireless 5G networks in 2019, using slight modifications of the 4G core while taking advantage of the current patchwork of 5G radio spectrum. The true 5G core, allowing full network slicing, will show up in large-scale production networks around 2020.
Think about how setting up a private 5G network slice could improve your company’s critical applications, services, and security processes? Could new network services open up revenue-generating opportunities? What’s the best strategy for you to leverage those capabilities? Prepare for 5G now because it will surely be here soon.
Narrow Your Priorities
One continuing challenge that CIOs face in today’s accelerating pace of business and technology change is to narrow down their true priorities. There are endless options competing for organizations’ time and resources, so it’s important to truly analyze what is a top priority within your organization.
Many organizations have to be strategic and creative about sourcing and staff projects because even though the volume of new technologies emerging is continuously increasing, organizations can’t always hire additional staff to keep up. Many are tightening their belt on costs, so creative methods for sourcing and staffing are helpful. However, it’s also important for your CEO to back you up so you can turn down things that aren’t top priorities.
All IT prioritization processes should factor these questions into the decision:
- What is the business bang for the buck relative to other projects?
- Will this project serve customers or just improve things internally?
- Which projects are the most time-sensitive?
- Which ones do we really have the expertise to pull off?
- Will this project produce long-term results?
- What would be the total cost of failure?
Cultivate a Culture of Innovation
Innovation doesn’t just happen organically; it must be driven. Innovative companies and IT organizations go out of their way to groom a diversity of skills and talents and create a culture of innovation within their company. They also proactively bring structure to producing new IT-based products and methods that give a competitive advantage.
The challenge for CIOs is to move employees out of their routines by setting up ongoing processes for conceiving and advancing new ideas. It’s important not to isolate only a select few. Encourage innovation for all. It’s also important to understand that failures are an inevitable part of the process, and CIOs and employees need to manage them accordingly.
Invest More in Your People
Attracting and retaining the best talent in the industry has been cited as one of the top three concerns for CIOs over several years now. Organizations are looking for specialized talent like data scientists, security experts, software architects, business analysts, and now AI and blockchain specialists. However, CIOs continue to rely on the same HR practices that they’ve used in the past. This will not help attract this top talent in the future if it isn’t already. Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, and that’s what’s happening here.
To the best of their ability, CIOs must position their organizations in a place that allows employees to do exciting, industry-changing work. Work should be about more than just collecting a paycheck. There are a few options to explore when trying to invest more in your people:
- Have you plugged your IT organization into the local tech startup community?
- Are you looking for unproven talent at colleges and universities that aren’t on other employers’ radar?
- Are you considering recent graduates that don’t have a tech-related degree but that have other skills they can bring to your organization?
- Are you considering setting up technology hubs where the technology talent is rather than expecting the talent to relocate to you?
- Are you making use of the latest Cloud-based HR recruiting software powered by machine learning?
- Have you set up an internal mentorship program?
Find a way to invest in your people and find the right talent, maybe in some unexpected places.
Embrace the Accelerating Pace of Change
This is either said than done, but it needs to happen. It’s important to keep up, but even better, get out in front of the accelerating speed of change. Brainstorm ways to drive your business forward instead of sitting around waiting for change to come to you. CIOs have to embrace the pace of change and build up a digital mindset within their organization. This starts with using Cloud-based development platforms, tools, and infrastructure. While many CIOs understand the need for embracing this change and site is as a top priority, it still requires continuous work to actually make it happen and get out in front of it.
Move the Revenue and Profit Needle
This part might seem obvious, but it’s practical and important to keep in mind. CEOs judge their CIOs based on the business results that they help produce, and the final scorecard in business is driving profitable revenues and lowering costs. This is becoming increasingly important as the global economy starts to slow. It’s important to assess emerging technologies based on the business value that they can deliver to your organization. What are the benefits you’ll reap?
To learn more about these strategic priorities for business leaders, check out the Forbes article and additional Quest resources attached below.
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