5 challenges facing CIOs and IT leaders in 2019 (Part 1)

EducationSummary: As technology
evolves at an ever-increasing pace, it brings major challenges to
the IT department. Modern CIOs and IT leaders must recognize and
prepare for these challenges if they hope to remain competitive in
the coming years. What challenges can we expect in 2019? In this
article, we examine 5 challenges facing CIOs and IT leaders.

photo credit: geralt
via pixabay cc

Over the past few years, we’ve seen significant changes to the IT
department. The cloud has changed how we think about software.
Mobile has changed where and how we work. The ongoing push towards
digital transformation is changing the business as a whole. The
list could go on.

While these changes bring benefits to the IT department, they
also bring challenges. As technology continues evolving, CIOs and
IT leaders must stay ahead of the curve. The most successful CIOs
are those that recognize new challenges and adapt accordingly.

So, what challenges will CIOs and IT leaders face in the coming
year? As this is such a broad topic, we’re breaking it up into
two parts. We’ll cover the first 5 challenges today, and the rest
in a future article. Sound good? Okay, here are 5 of the biggest
challenges facing CIOs and IT leaders in the near future:

Preparing for the voice revolution

photo credit:
Knowridge
via pixabay
cc

I read an interesting article on CIO.com recently about
Digital 2.0
. In short, Digital 2.0 goes beyond mobile
devices/apps and into an anywhere, anytime, any platform mindset.
It’s about putting information and support at the customer’s
fingertips, wherever they are.

The driving force behind this change: Voice interfaces. We’ve
seen it coming for a while now, starting with “smart” speakers
like Amazon Alexa and Google Home. Now, more and more devices are
shipping with voice controls. As explained below, this is the wave
of the future.

“It’s no wild guess to say that voice is the next major
wave,” says Jeremiah Rizzo from Nettology. “Advocates like Gary Vee
have stated that in the same way the television revolutionized the
American home, starting in just a few homes, and scaling to
multiple TV’s in just about every home, voice will follow the
same pattern. At the end of the day, voice saves time. And anything
that saves time, is going to be sought after and adopted by
customers. It’s much easier to listen to an audiobook while
commuting to work than to read one in your nighttime hours. It’s
easier to digest information through a podcast than to comb through
internet articles. Platforms like Alexa have made it easier than
ever to leverage voice for your company’s product, and to connect
with your customers on their various home devices. This, along with
the momentum we see in machine learning advancing self-driving
cars, customer service bots, etc., will be two major areas that
CIOs need to focus their time and make sure they’re both staying
competitive in, and leveraging for the benefit of their customers.
It feels very much to me like an atmosphere where you could be a
major company or major player in a given space, who ends up losing
out in 5 years if you don’t stay current with voice, machine
learning, etc. and being where your customers want you to
be.”

Now, will everything switch over to voice interfaces in 2019? Of
course not. But, it is the wave of the future, and modern CIOs must
start preparing now.

Security and Customer Privacy

photo credit: mohamed_hassan
via pixabay cc

The New EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went live on
May 25th of this year. It created a law to enforce European data
protection & regulation rules, and the right to personal data
protection.

How does it apply to IT? Or perhaps a better question: How does
it apply to IT departments outside of the EU?

First, GDPR applies to any organization that does business with
EU residents. Second, while GDPR is the first of its kind, we can
expect regulations like this to crop up in the US as well.

While we won’t get into all of the details in this article (as
the topic is very broad), here’s a short overview: GDPR provides
strict guidelines on how organizations use and protect personal
data. It also means that customers have the rights to have their
personal data deleted upon request. That means IT departments must
understand where sensitive data is located, how it’s protected,
and who has access to the data.

This makes issues like Shadow IT and data security even more
important. IT departments can’t afford to have data floating
around that they can’t monitor. Businesses can’t afford to have
sloppy data security habits.

Why is it so important? Violations of GDPR can lead to massive
fines. If your company operates in the EU, or even collects data on
EU citizens, this is something that cannot be ignored.

“I feel the biggest challenge for 2019 would be security and
customer privacy,” says Amna Rizvi, CEO of TechCrunchX. “Nowadays, after many
big incidents involving huge companies like Facebook, Dept of
Homeland Security, FedEx etc, not only do consumers care more about
their data, even governments worldwide are doing a lot, e.g.
Europe’s GDPR law taking effect. As more and more things become
digitized, increasing IoT devices, security will still be the #1
challenge for IT leadership in 2019.”

Capitalizing on your data despite growing regulations

At a recent conference, we heard a common refrain from multiple
CIOs and IT leaders: “We’re data rich but insight poor.” They
have lots of data, but aren’t capitalizing on it.

Now, this isn’t a new challenge. It’s been an ongoing
struggle for CIOs over the last few years. How can you turn your
data into a competitive advantage?

I mention it again this year for a couple of reasons. First,
it’s still incredibly important. Those that can capitalize on
their data have a significant advantage of the competition.

Second, new regulations (like GDPR) make this more challenging.
These days, you must keep a data trail for all personally
identifiable data. Where did it come from? Did the person consent
to have their data collected? Can it be completely removed from
your system if they request it? Not only must you turn your data
into a competitive advantage, you must follow strict guidelines or
face hefty fines.

“Data has been the biggest business word for the last couple
of years,” says Nate Masterson, CMO of Maple Holistics. “Last
decade was all about synergy, this decade is all about data. Data
collection is one of the most important functions of a company, but
once you have that data, what can you do with it? With GDPR it’s
become a much more complex answer, add to that, the fact that
technology systems are becoming more advanced every year. The
question for the coming year will be how to take advantage of the
data you have without getting into liability issues. It will also
to make your company GDPR compliant in preparation for whatever
data regulations are placed on the US-based and run
companies.”

Automation

Automate

photo credit: MustangJoe
via pixabay cc

In today’s business environment, agility is more important than
ever. Why? This
article
in Forbes sums it up nicely:

“In today’s market, not only is change happening quickly,
it’s forcing businesses themselves to change quickly. It’s a
constant flow of innovation, disruption — and sometimes chaos —
that is moving us ahead, even faster than we ever imagined. Many
say agility is the key to surviving in the age of technological
hairpin turns. In fact, 68% of companies identify agility as one of
their most important initiatives.”

The problem is, many businesses are still stuck with manual
processes that kill agility. In fact, one of the biggest
productivity killers across the business world stems from a lack of
automation. In companies around the globe, IT departments waste
their time performing manual tasks that could (and should) be
automated.

What do these processes look like? Here are a few common
examples:

  • Manual data re-entry: Employees are stuck
    manually entering and re-entering data into multiple systems.
  • Paper or email-based workflows: Business
    processes require a lot of human interaction to complete.
  • Heavy spreadsheet usage: Spreadsheets are
    required to move data from one system to another, or run
    reports.

To meet these demands, Modern CIO’s and IT leaders must place
automation at the top of their priority list.

“In 2021, the CIO that did not have AI and Automation at the
top of their 2019 agenda will no longer be the CIO,” says Ian
Aitchison, Senior Product Director at Ivanti. “Organizations that
continue to operate un-unified IT Ops silos will be losing in their
markets to their automated competitors. Those companies that do not
automate IT Operations will be gradually replaced or acquired by
those that do.”

Attract and retain the right skills

Over the last few years, we’ve seen the massive growth of new
technologies. Areas like machine learning, AI, data science, etc…
have now become important skills in the business world.

As a result, more businesses face an IT skills gap–a shortfall
between the supply of qualified IT professionals and the necessary
IT skills.

How bad is it? The research firm, Forrester, found that while
75% of businesses have a digital strategy, only 16% claim to have
the skills to deliver it. Another study finds that a whopping 93%
of businesses indicate they’re facing a skills shortage.

The big challenge facing CIOs: Address this skills gap while
staying current with the ever-changing tech trends. After all, your
business won’t stop and wait while you fix the skills gap. The
competition won’t take a timeout while you search for modern
skills. You must bridge the IT skills gap while operating at full
speed.

“The biggest challenges facing CIOs and IT leaders heading
into 2019 is being able to attract and retain quality staff,”
says Dylan Robertson, Chief Growth Officer at CoinJinja Co., Ltd.
“Failure in this area can destroy a business of any size. Having
disengaged staff and turnover cost an organization much more than
just dollars.

The keys to this are self-awareness, empathy, and communication.
IT leaders often come from a technical background and struggle with
these soft skills.”

Summary

These are just a few challenges to address in the coming year,
but the list could be much longer. Would you add anything to this
list? Feel free to comment below!

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5 challenges facing CIOs and IT leaders in 2019 (Part 1)

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