Costa Koutakis
Costa Koutakis Executive Head: Enterprise

CIOs today are besieged by IT demands that clamour for their attention.

They have to evaluate a number of emerging technologies being fired at them – machine learning, blockchain, the Internet of Things and Industry 4.0. With all this information at hand, how do they know what to focus on? Here’s our list of IT trends that CIOs must focus on to help them balance their strategic business, technical and management priorities.

Why digital transformation matters

CIOs must reinvent themselves to possess the ability to support the changes brought on by digital transformation and become transformers of technology in the business. Mastering the New Business Executive Job of the CIO survey shows that: “93% of CIOs at top-performing organisations and 78% across the entire global sample (3 000+) lead adaptable and open-to-change IT organisations, thanks to the ongoing transformation to digital business.”

The CIO’s role is changing from controlling costs to re-engineering processes. Forbes agrees: “CIOs will assume control of the digital strategy working with the CEO and other C-level peers in sales, marketing, HR and operations.”

You need to spend more time differentiating your technologies. Gartner points out in the survey that the following technologies will help differentiate companies from their competitors:

  • BI/analytics (26%)
  • Digitisation (14%)
  • Cloud services (10%)
  • Mobile applications (6%)
  • Infrastructure/data centre (5%)

Think about cybersecurity yesterday already

Cybersecurity has to be one of the most important topics in IT management. If this is not yet the case, then CIOs have to start talking about it. Cyberattacks are growing in number and are becoming more sophisticated. What’s worrying is that the IT industry “is focused primarily on detection and response”, says John Davis, CSO of Palo Alto Networks' federal division. Alternatively, companies should conduct a robust risk analysis of their own environment with an expert eye to help them in this endeavour.

The whole point of security is to have a complete system in place. It’s no use having an electric fence without a security team ready to defend the property behind it. The concept remains the same for cybersecurity. CIOs must consider equipping themselves with the entire package, prevention alone is not enough. Jeremy Capell , Executive: Cyber Resilience, Internet Solutions and ContinuitySA, argues: “Organisations must devote even more resources to developing the ability to respond to, and recover from an attack.”

Focus on customer-centricity

CIOs do not have to be told that more emphasis should be placed on the customer. But it doesn’t hurt to remind them. Yes, focus more on customers, but do this intelligently. It involves an increased use of data analytics to aid decision-making and shows a greater involvement in the organisation.

A customer-centric approach to business is changing the role of CIOs – they are taking more responsibility for thought leadership and customer engagement. With this new emphasis on the customer, processes must still be rooted in IT. Retail stores that want to increase their customer experience are using sensors to monitor footsteps on the floor. Stores can track where customers are standing the most and for how long, analyse this data and improve floor layout and product placing.

In a world dominated by uncertainty and accelerated change, CIOs are presented with massive challenges, which can be turned into opportunities. When an application was implemented a few years ago, it had to be bought, installed and managed with over 60 servers.

Today, the cloud provides flexible enterprise applications while you employ a pay-as-you-use model, giving way to an increase in rapid change and innovation. Besides the cloud, there are several IT solutions available to CIOs to help them advance their businesses. Keep learning while you’re here. Grab a copy of our IT trends.