2018 has been a year of changes for enterprise IT. Customer expectations are rising, and organizations need to exceed them.
As IT continues to be an essential business function, on a par with finance or human resources, the IT budgets are coming into focus. With respect to that, the role of the CIO is changing as well.
Today’s CIOs have a complex set of responsibilities, the most important one being to prepare the business for the future. CIOs should keep an eye on emerging trends to stay competitive.
Let’s discuss the top 5 IT priorities for CIOs in 2018.
1. Business Alignment
Business alignment has been the top IT priority for CIOs in the past. That’s not going to change anytime soon. However, companies need new tools to drive innovation in this area. IT is no longer relegated to the back seat, providing support to business units.
CIOs must work with business units to serve specific needs. Any technology that brings business teams and IT together is a valuable one to have. 2018 might be the year analytics comes into its own, as companies pursue business alignment.
Teams that want to get closer to clients need data. Remember that it’s not enough if you collect data. You must store, analyze, and manage it. Project teams like data they can use. Data analytics must translate into action.
Data analytics can help you deliver continuous product innovation. We live in a world where customers expect it. Products that launched in 2017 will make their presence felt in the coming years.
The volume of data you have is not significant. What matters is how you use it. Businesses that harness the power of data will leave the competition behind.
2. Cloud Deployments
The shift to cloud computing shows no signs of slowing down. Businesses use more SaaS services than ever before and more than one cloud to host all their applications. A recent report by Right Scale reveals that organizations use an average of 1.8 public clouds and 2.3 private clouds.
In such a hybrid environment, the challenge for CIOs is to prevent fragmentation. Most companies use a mix of on-premise and hybrid cloud networks. You should efficiently manage business applications. Can you move data from one service to another when you need it?
IT staff manage not only computers but also smartphones, tablets, and Internet-enabled devices. In a few years, there will be more IoT (Internet of Things) devices than computers or smartphones. The CIO has to manage all of them while fighting complexity. It won’t be easy, but the business that gets it right will lead the field.
Enterprise IT has to be flexible and nimble, meaning that CIOs have to fight IT sprawl across devices, services, and cloud technologies. Users expect a seamless experience even as you make upgrades or changes.
3. Cloud Security
First, your data should be on the cloud. If it is not, consider migrating to the cloud for an extra layer of security.
New services and devices mean more threats to your business. “Set it and forget it” will no longer work for cloud security. You have to anticipate data breaches before they happen because it’s only a matter of when hackers will target you, not if.
Do you know who has access to critical data? How often do they move it around? People are the weakest link in the security chain. Mistakes happen, but sometimes you lose data because someone wanted revenge.
Many layers of defense are the key to securing your critical workloads. If someone gets past one wall, another one will stop them. Even delaying hackers by a few minutes could prove vital.
High profile breaches in recent years show what can happen. You could lose user data and the trust of your customers in one stroke. Your brand will suffer the effects for a long time.
Some businesses think insurance will cover everything. But every new data breach will increase the cost of insurance. Premium payments will rise. Can you afford to take the chance?
A massive data breach can put your job on the line. CIOs have to balance the need for innovation and reduce risk at the same time. Every new technology in the business brings new risks. Have you covered all the bases?
4. The BYOD Phenomenon
Whether you allow it or not, employees access business data on personal devices. So, every firm needs a BYOD policy. What kind of devices will you allow? How can you maintain security over thousands of phones?
Your BYOD policy can become the means of attracting top talent. Companies that use employee-friendly services have the edge over the competition and technology can help you bridge the talent gap in IT. It could be the reason someone chooses your company over others.
Your staff wants to use the same services at home and at work. The CIO is tasked with offering flexible work environments to retain valuable workers while ensuring that these devices are secure.
5. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
AI and machine learning were popular in 2017, and the trend will continue in 2018. Machine learning will take center stage for CIOs as businesses continue to explore new ways to use artificial intelligence.
AI devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home took the world by storm in 2017, but these consumer appliances are only the beginning. Machine learning can improve routing protocols. You can use it to create efficient shipping routes for orders. The possibilities are endless.
Businesses can use AI to create efficient security algorithms. AI may also hold the key to cloud security for businesses. AI technologies can change settings on the fly. AI could be the perfect partner for human security teams.
These are a few of the most prominent trends CIOs can expect to see in 2018. In technology, no one knows what the next big thing is. It might be just around the corner or take years.
A CIO must help the business face any changes that come their way. The best way to do that is to focus on the right IT priorities. Is your company ready for 2018 and beyond?