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Six key trends for CIOs navigating a digital transformation journey

Ezat Dayeh, SE Manager, Cohesity talks about CIOs wanting to adopt a growth mindset and the need to embrace uncertainty and disruption to unlock new opportunities.

One of the biggest lessons that digital leaders and their business peers can take away from 2020 is that uncertainty is now the only certainty.

Rapidly changing customer demands and super-fast technological advances already created significant challenges. Then the coronavirus pandemic became the impetus for a new phase of digital transformation, forcing organisations to adopt new working methods in days rather than years.

In this new era of constant uncertainty, CIOs must work across the organisation and use digital technology and data to unlock new opportunities. They should work with their C-Suite peers to use technology to help the business overcome the challenges it faces.

For Gartner, this age of uncertainty means CIOs must instil a growth mindset within their organisations. The analyst says a growth mindset can help CIOs unlock innovation and agility. We believe the adoption of a growth mindset will mean CIOs have to embrace six key trends as part of their ongoing digital transformation journeys.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML)

AI and ML have received significant hype during the past few years – and both technologies will become central to digital transformation efforts going forward. Researcher IDC says global spending on AI is forecast to double over the next four years, growing from $50.1 billion in 2020 to more than $110 billion in 2024.

Companies will use AI and ML to help boost customer service and worker efficiency. IDC says the top four use cases for AI – automated customer service agents, sales process recommendation and automation, automated threat intelligence and prevention, and IT automation – will represent nearly a third of all AI spending this year.

Application strategies

It’s going to be very difficult to change direction quickly if your organisation is hamstrung by its applications. Too often, applications are implemented and then left alone. Their business value is unassessed and potential outlays, both in terms of total cost of ownership and cybersecurity risk, are unconsidered.

CIOs must empower end users to help developers create the tools they need. Rather than creating big development projects with a big upfront scope, CIOs should create an agile culture that allows the business to create an iterative approach to application development.

Cloud and infrastructure strategy

Gartner suggests 25 per cent of the average IT budget is spent on capital expenditure. CIOs must optimise how their IT spend is allocated. Re-platforming legacy applications to the cloud can seem like an expensive proposition. However, the alternative is a reliance on staid applications that can stop your organisation changing direction quickly.

With less money to invest and more IT to do, Gartner says CIOs are spending cash on areas that will accelerate digital business, such as infrastructure as a service. By focusing investment on a flexible cloud and infrastructure strategy, your organisation can flex its IT requirements as business circumstances change.

Cybersecurity, privacy and risk

While emerging technology, like AI and ML, can help companies achieve agility at scale, CIOs should only use these technologies when the right foundations are in place. These solid foundations are all about a strong approach to cybersecurity threats.

IT leaders must ensure their organisations invest in key areas like backup and data management. Solid backup and data management provides accurate real-time data, ransomware protection, and speeds up test and development environments. Investing in these area ensures privacy is assured and the risk of innovation is reduced.

Emerging and disruptive technologies

With budgets likely to be constrained, no one expects the CIO to take a big bet on a fast-emerging concept. What CIOs must do, however, is recognise the potential of emerging technologies to bubble up and impact how their organisation operates and interacts with its customers.

From blockchain to quantum computing and onto brain-computer interfaces, CIOs should create a culture that allows their organisation to test these technologies, possibly even in a lab environment. By developing proof-of-concept studies, IT leaders can test these technologies against emerging use cases.

Enterprise architecture framework

Beneath everything else, your organisation needs to have a standardised methodology from which to create, describe and change its IT systems and assets. That’s where your enterprise architecture framework comes in: it’s a way to make sure you organisation has a long-term view on how systems and services will form part of your approach to IT implementation.

With increased use of cloud and emerging technologies, CIOs would be well advised to create a framework that allows their business to make use of new technologies in an open but secure manner. CIOs who want to adopt a growth mindset will need to ensure their business can embrace innovation without putting the enterprise at risk.

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