5 Key Challenges Facing CIOs and IT Leaders in 2018


17th Jul 2018

As business technology goes through a fundamental shift, the role of the CIO is changing. In the coming years, CIOs will face new challenges and take on new roles. The most successful CIOs are those that recognise and adapt to these changes. In this article, we explore 5 challenges that CIOs must face in the near future.

Turning data into a competitive advantage

The problem is that many companies don’t know what to do with their data. In the rush to avoid being left behind, many companies become data rich but insight poor. They accumulate vast stores of data that they have no idea what to do with it, and no hope of learning anything useful from it.

The focus going forward isn’t about gathering data, though that’s certainly important, it is about turning the data you’re gathered into something useful. It’s about transforming that data into meaningful management information. Those who can capitalise on their data in this way will have a significant advantage.

Enabling consistent innovation

You’ve probably read quite a bit recently on the growing need for innovation. I’ve seen many people saying that the modern CIO must become the “Chief Innovation Officer.” That’s all well and good. No one will argue that innovation is important. But, I think it goes beyond innovation. So many companies historically have vanished through the inability to adapt to change.

Think about that. Strong, successful companies fell because they couldn’t, or wouldn’t, alter their course. They didn’t adapt. In other words, only the agile survive.

So, the modern CIO must not only drive innovation. They must drive consistent innovation. It’s not good enough to innovate once, and sit back.

Balancing security with accessibility

The biggest challenge for CIOs and IT leaders in 2018 is the strategic protection of data.  

You can’t write about CIO challenges in 2018 and ignore security. With massive data breaches occurring on a regular basis, I don’t think any CIO will ignore security in the coming year. This hopefully doesn’t catch any CIO or IT eader by surprise.

However, we should take this one step further. The challenge facing CIOs in 2018 isn’t just security, it’s how you handle security. The real challenge is delivering strong security while maintaining agility and data access. It’s about securing data in a way that doesn’t hinder the business or harm accessibility.

Finding the appropriate talent

Over the last few years, we’ve seen the massive growth of new technologies. Areas like machine learning, AI, and data science 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 93% of businesses indicate they’re facing a skills shortage.

The big challenge facing CIO’s is addressing 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 time out while you search for modern skills. You must bridge the IT skills gap while operating at full speed.

Merging old and new

I didn’t include “digital transformation” on this list, because I feel like it’s a project that’s underway in most businesses. A recent survey from Gartner finds that nearly half of all businesses have begun a digital transformation project. Another study finds that 55% of companies without an existing digital transformation program say the timeframe to adopt one is a year or less.

However, CIOs and IT leaders will face a growing challenge in their digital transformation journeys merging legacy technologies with modern technologies. What can you do? In some cases, it will make sense to replace them. In other cases, it will make sense to keep your system, and “extend and surround” it with modern applications. In still other cases, you might come to the conclusion to keep things as-is. It all depends on your business

In summary...

These are just a few big challenges facing CIOs and IT leaders in the coming year, but the list could certainly be longer. Would you add anything to this list? If you would like to add anything to this list, I’d love to hear it. Feel free to share your inputs by getting intouch with me.

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