Eight challenges CIOs must address in 2022

Today, technology is critical to business performance, linking overarching corporate strategy with finance, operations, innovation, productivity, security and user experience. The CIO must make sure these all align and drive their implementation.

Emerging from the global pandemic and facing splintered supply chains, rising energy prices and an unpredictable future, CIOs must continuously measure changing challenges against their priorities and business outcomes.

Over the past two years, CIOs have proven that they can push forward digital transformation during a crisis. With change and disruption not slowing down, the pressure is still on.

“In the next five years, CIOs will be instrumental in helping their enterprises navigate the winds of change by enabling ecosystems, co-creating new business models and outcomes, empowering employees, and building resiliency,” said Serge Findling, Vice President of Research for IDC’s IT Executive Programs (IEP).

Top priorities CIOs must address in the coming months

Here are eight areas that will demand CIOs’ attention over the coming months and years:

1. Composable business

CIOs are now tasked with simultaneously enabling the conflicting goals of “efficiency, growth and resilience.” Gartner suggests that CIOs should master and evangelize business composability. Business composability applies modularity or building blocks to business assets – people, processes and technologies, as well as physical assets – to allow for quick adaptation to altering business needs.

2. Making hybrid work

The recent crisis has opened up the concept of hybrid working, and enterprises have a unique opportunity to break away from a location-based business model. Hybrid working is more complicated to support than fully remote. For example, when it comes to collaboration, remote workers miss out on the spontaneous collaboration they would get working in close proximity to their colleagues. Keeping split teams connected and motivated is demanding. CIOs will need to reassess their workspace investments and resources to meet the demands of current and future hybrid working needs. Ensuring that services provided are permanent and scalable is an example. They will also need to refresh policies around security and confidentiality.

3. Trust no-one

The Ponemon Institute’s 2022 Cost of Insider Threats Global Report reveals that threat incidents have gone up 44% in the past two years. As more of business becomes digital, security is paramount and a topic that gives CIOs sleepless nights. Increasingly, CIOs are looking at a zero-trust architecture approach to help bolster security. Zero trust is based on the concept that nothing can be trusted as part of a never-trust, always-verify principle. This methodology is well suited to supporting hybrid working, but it requires coordination of IT management capabilities to work, including identity and access to data, devices, applications and enterprise networks.

4. Prepare for the unexpected

Supply chain problems continue to be a significant issue for many enterprises and show no signs of abating. On a positive note, CIOs can use the situation as an opportunity to update processes and technologies to better deal with supply-chain weaknesses. Digital supply chain twins, for example, can provide real-time insight for end-to-end decision making. Embedded artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics can provide real-time reporting directly into business applications to gain visibility into the supply chain.

5. Find the talent within

Successful digital organizations require digital talent. Gartner advises that most organizational talent planning is too short. CIOs need to take a lead role in developing digital dexterity and closing the skills gap. New projects and technologies require upskilling, and it is becoming more difficult to find and retain them. CIOs need to work with HR to develop internal skills, cross-train staff and provide skill-upgrade training.

6. You are in the driving seat

CIOs are moving from transforming operations to taking a pivotal role in developing new digital products and services with business partners to become more agile and stay ahead of the competition. Why? Because CIOs are uniquely positioned to provide insight into how technology aligns with the business. According to IDC, by 2023, 60% of CIOs will be primarily measured for their ability to co-create new business models and outcomes through extensive enterprise and ecosystem-wide collaboration.

7. Help your company decarbonize

With concerns about our planet growing and the digitalization of business, CIOs are now critical to leading sustainability initiatives. With increasing expectations from customers, partners and investors, sustainability is now embedded in corporate strategy. CIOs, for example, are pivotal in putting in place solutions and analytics to measure environmental impacts and manage the IT lifecycle from end to end. By 2023, IDC maintains that 55% of G2000 CIOs will implement sustainable IT, embedding environmental, social and governance practices into the technology lifecycle from acquisition to disposal.

8. Data sovereignty affects everyone

As business and knowledge workers become more distributed, CIOs must have a clear and centralized approach to governance and data sovereignty. The regulatory landscape is fast changing, and data-protection rules need to be top of mind for CIOs. According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), 137 countries now have laws to protect data within their sovereign borders. This includes Europe with GDPR, China with PIPL and Brazil with LGPD. CIOs must address data sovereignty and localization for each cloud service they use and how they interconnect with other technologies in the organization.

The world is becoming increasingly connected. CIOs now need to grow beyond technological prowess to understand business mechanics and build partnerships with other organizations that can drive agility and innovation. Find out more about how our digital expertise can help your organization meet its business aspirations.

Jan Howells

Jan has been writing about technology for over 22 years for magazines and web sites, including ComputerActive, IQ magazine and Signum. She has been a business correspondent on ComputerWorld in Sydney and covered the channel for Ziff-Davis in New York.