January 4, 2024
A recent article in CIO.com noted that CIOs “are uniquely situated to function as their companies’ de facto orchestrators-in-chief.” Irving Tyler, distinguished research vice president with Gartner’s CIO Research team, explained why: “It’s really only the CIO and the CEO who have this perspective,” he said. “The CIO has a deeper perspective because it’s in the execution aspect, not just the bigger-picture strategic perspective.”
As we head into 2024, there’s no shortage of informed opinions about what CIOs should focus on and anticipate in the coming year—and well beyond. Here are some key insights from Gartner, Forrester and PwC.
“CIOs face a paradigm shift, sharing leadership responsibilities with CxOs to deliver digital success, while also contending with budgetary pressures and transformative technologies,” Mandi Bishop, Distinguished VP Analyst at Gartner, said in late October at Gartner’s IT Symposium/Xpo. “To successfully lead digital transformation initiatives, CIOs must co-own efforts with business leaders to place the design, delivery and management of digital capabilities with teams closest to the point where value is created.”
In its CIO Agenda 2024 report, Gartner lays out several CIO priorities that involve a few key best practices: co-leading, co-delivering and co-governing with their CxOs. All of those things are in service of greater efficiency, as tech budget increases will barely exceed projected inflation.
- Co-Leading: “A distinguishing feature of franchiser CIOs is that they encourage their CxO peers to co-lead digital delivery. Those CIOs have elevated their roles and that of their IT departments, not by focusing on the proverbial “seat at the table” or by “shaping demand,” but by encouraging, educating and equipping business leaders and their teams to co-lead their business areas’ digital initiatives along with them.”
- Co-Delivering: “Creating fusion teams of IT and business team members creates that engagement and simplifies the process of gaining access to the tooling and technology platforms required to be effective.”
- Co-Governing: “To be effective at managing compliance and risk in a franchise model, you need to find ways to scale governance. Work with your CxOs peers to shift to an orchestration approach that mitigates the risks of franchising digital delivery while also retaining its benefits.”
Gartner also surveyed 2,457 CIOs in 84 countries across all major industries and came up with these top eight IT investment priorities for 2024: 1) Cyber/information security; 2) Business intelligence/data analytics; 3) Cloud platforms; 4) Artificial intelligence/machine learning; 5) Application modernization; 6) Integration technologies/application programming interfaces; 7) Total experience solutions; 8) Hyper automation.
“There’s a lot of pressure,” Matt Guarini, Forrester vice president and senior research director, told CIODive. “I think that [tech leaders] feel like a lot of the CEOs are turning on them and saying ‘now is your time to deliver.” Here, in brief, are some challenges Forrester says CIOs will face. (Purchase and read its full report here.)
- Growth: “Only 10% of tech execs will get ‘growth’ right despite the clear call to action… AI will be critical to every conversation.”
- Shadow HR: “Twenty percent of tech execs will turn to shadow HR to upgrade talent acquisition…Unfortunately, they’ll find that these efforts fall short. The most frustrated tech leaders will take talent into their own hands — creating ‘shadow HR.’”
- AI Partnerships: “Tech execs will seek partners to close the AI gap as 50% fail to master it internally… Savvy tech execs will recognize that this AI movement is an opportunity to rethink external relationships and will work to find a healthy balance between overly dependent outsourcing and co-innovation partnerships.”
While AI is and will remain the talk of the town, and of the C-Suite, PwC advises CIOs to stay the course and keep focusing on how emerging tech in general (including AI) can boost productivity and revenue. The biggest challenge, it notes, is achieving ROI “when it comes to foundational cloud systems, data and IT operations, as well as how the organization uses new technology to work efficiently and serve customers.”
PwC compiled a list of five things that are shaping the 2024 CIO agenda. We’ve pulled some brief excerpts below, but you can read the entire report here.
- Modernizing data to unlock value: “Foundational issues around governance, privacy and cybersecurity are critical to break down organizational silos and give the business an enterprise-wide view of data.”
- Prioritizing cloud engineering: “How you engage with your business C-suite peers is also key to delivering positive cloud-powered outcomes.”
- Evolving your IT operating model: “It’s critical that you regularly engage with the board to provide updates on tech strategy, cybersecurity, risk mitigation and innovation initiatives.”
- Scaling GenAI for new business models: “A transformative GenAI approach is rooted in trust and integrates responsible AI from the outset, considering strategy, governance, controls and ongoing practices.”
- Innovating through emerging tech: “Where it makes sense, let leaders get hands-on with proofs of concepts and experience how tech is changing the way employees or customers interact. That includes keeping an eye on seemingly exotic technologies, such as quantum computing…”
Gartner’s Tyler was also quoted in a Wall Street Journal article this past October. The CIO’s role, he said during a presentation at the Symposium/xpo, is no longer centered on “putting out fires” as it long had been. It’s much broader than that. “This is not the workplace that we need to be in,” he said. “This is not where we can deliver our greatest potential.
“So we have to flip this around and we have to work as an active executive with other executives in the C-suite and we have to focus on creating value.”
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