10 Top Tech Priorities for CIOs in 2016

Results from multiple CIO surveys from the likes of Gartner, Deloitte and IDG Enterprise are pointing out clear trends and priorities this year reflecting CIOs’ efforts to increasingly digitalize their businesses. These are generating a number of spin-off effects for how business is conducted, the incorporation of new technologies and the evolving role and responsibilities of the CIO.

1. Digital Transformation Continues to Dominate

With an expectation that revenues from digital products and operations will more than double over the next five years, the creation of a digital-first business is uppermost in the minds of most CIOs. The transformation effort requires CIOs to create new stakeholder ecosystems to support new technologies, support systems and development strategies required to stay ahead of the curve.

2. Increasing Use of the Cloud

CIOs across the board will increase cloud use to lower capital costs and improve both technological and market agility through on-demand service models. There is still plenty of work to do in this area as a Barclays survey in 2014 found that enterprise workloads were still 81 percent on-premises, though that percentage is dropping albeit slowly.

3. Struggling to Close Skills Gaps

Almost a quarter of CIOs, according to Gartner, see the lack of in-house skills in big data, analytics, predictive technology and digital business knowledge as the biggest obstacle to the success of strategic goals. On average, IT organizations already face a 20 percent attrition rate and a resurging labor market in the U.S. places imposes additional pressure on hiring, training and retention plans.

4. Re-defining the Role of CIO

Surveys indicate that CIOs are witnessing an evolution of their current role as their organizations continue the digital transformation they themselves are driving. The key principles driving new approaches to efficiency and agility, such as DevOps, are blurring previously distinct lines of responsibility between information, business, marketing and production teams. This situation means that in 2016 CIOs feel they must develop a broader set of business-related skills.

5. The Rise of Bimodal Platforms

One of the key strategies being adopted by 40 percent of CIOs this year in the quest for digital innovation is the creation of bimodal business platforms. This separates more exploratory technology and business pursuits from established business lines. The approach enables new techniques such as crowdsourcing, agile methodologies, adaptive sourcing and multi-disciplinary teams to flourish within the organization with the least disruption to stable revenue streams.

6. Embracing IT Innovation

More than ever, in 2016 CIOs see a digital future filled with an array of leading edge technologies such as robotics, AI, and IoT. Each of these technology trends engenders a myriad of BI and security opportunities as well. Thus, CIOs envision less time spent on operations and more on innovation in support of an algorithmic approach to the business of the enterprise.

7. Where CIOs Are Focusing their Budgets

Overall, CIO budgets are stabilizing this year according to data from an IDG Enterprise CIO poll. Over 50 percent report that they are increasing their spending to support Business Intelligence and Big Data analytics. Other areas receiving increased attention and resources include security applications and predictive data analytics, which are seeing budget increases by 49 percent and 47 percent of CIOs, respectively.

8. Continuing to Prioritize DevOps

DevOps continues to be a top priority for many CIOs in 2016, although full implementation still escapes many organizations as they try to overcome conventional development, test, operations and production processes operating within silos. Most enterprises moving toward DevOps models have only reached the stage of establishing liaisons between disparate groups in an effort to increase communication.

9. Shared Responsibility for Digital Leadership

A strong plurality of CIOs consider themselves to be their company’s digital transformation leaders in the latest surveys. Furthermore, CEOs in 2016 are increasingly viewing their CIOs as trusted partners in pursuing the business’ digital strategies. However, CEOs are also open to increasing digital knowledge and leadership across the C-Suite.

10. Moving Business toward Data-Driven Decision-Making

CIOs are in a unique position to drive their organizations toward algorithmic-based processes that rely less on intuition, past experience and preconceived notions and more on what the data is actually trying to reveal. This year continues a growing trend of CIOs unlocking hidden data assets and installing analytic dashboards that share vendor, sales, operations and customer information across more departments and deeper into the organization.

As 2016 starts, CIOs continue to be at the center of their companies’ digital transformation efforts. As their efforts to digitalize the business bear fruit, they are adapting to shared responsibility at the executive level for their company’s continued success in this area.

They continue to prioritize the employment of new, innovative technologies that will enhance the use of BI, Big Data and reap the advantages of increased automation and the rise of the IoT. These challenges, along with the familiar problems of improving internal skillsets, business knowledge and better use of on-demand services, will make 2016 a challenging but exciting year for most CIOs.