Business Consultant. Works in Digital Legal Management (since 2007), Knowledge Management (KM, since 1999), Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM, since 2006), Digital Contract Management (since 2009), SaaS B2B (since 1998), Signer of the Agile Manifesto (2006). Founder of EuroCloud Italy (2010) and GM of Cloud for Europe (2016). Publishes Internet contents in different subjects since 1996. Owner and founder of the brand B|KM for SaaS B2B production. Co-founder of AltonaSpain (2021), and Noticias Altona (2022), in the audit/compliance sector for the Spanish market. Works in Spain, Italy, The Netherlands. In his private life he’s a writer, art curator, and amateur music composer.

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Successful CIOs, like all highly placed executives, must be adept at running an organization that’s good at getting work out the door. Unfortunately, many of the most popular management techniques for fixing poor organizational performance don’t work. Or worse. If you want better guidance, start with Peter Drucker’s observation that, “Most of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to get their work done.” Which should encourage you to take the next logical step: To improve IT’s performance, figure out which of your organization’s management practices are best at making getting work done difficult, and stop doing them. Here are some likely places to start. Bad fix #1: Reorganize What it is: The ever-popular Titanic iceberg collision remediation strategy of rearranging the deck chairs. Why it’s a problem: Reorganizations don’t change how work gets done. The usual rationale is that realigning reporting relationships removes barriers. Which it does, most often by replacing one set of barriers with a different set of barriers. Meanwhile, reorganizations change the unwritten rules by which IT operates, as employees have to learn how to work with their new management. Why it’s a temptation: It’s tempting because it’s easy. Just announce the new reporting relationships and leave it to everyone else to make it work. It’s especially tempting when you have an ineffective manager — you can avoid the unpleasant conversation that tells them so, instead placing them someplace safe in the new organization to minimize the damage they inflict. What to do instead: Just about anything. Bad fix #2: Rely on multitasking What it is: Asking employees to juggle multiple responsibilities. Why it’s a problem: Employees divide their time into two buckets — orienting to the task at hand, and performing the task at hand. The more employees have to multitask, the more time they lose to reorienting, reducing the time they can devote to productive work. Why it’s a temptation: Multitasking means never having to say no to a request. You can always promise to squeeze something in. Also, it improves IT’s performance on employee utilization — a bad but popular metric. What to do instead: Eliminating multitasking is too much to shoot for, because there are, inevitably, more bits and pieces of work than there are staff to work on them. Also, the political pressure to squeeze something in usually overrules the logic of multitasking less. So instead of trying to stamp it out, attack the problem at the demand side instead of the supply side by enforcing a “Nothing-Is-Free” rule. Bad fix #3: Ignore bad processes What it is: The way work gets done is disorganized, ineffective, uncoordinated, undocumented, inconsistent, and idiosyncratic. Why it’s a problem: When each employee independently figures out the way to get something done, IT’s practices are, in effect, in a perpetual state of alpha testing. Processes never improve because no two people ever do them the same way or build on past successes. Why it’s a temptation: Defining, documenting, training, and insisting everyone follows well-defined processes is a lot of work, not to mention that it can make a manager unpopular. After all, for most employees doing things the way they want is a whole lot more fun than doing things the institution’s way. Worse, doing things the institution’s way and insisting on it will lead to accusations that you’re turning IT into a stifling, choking bureaucracy. What to do instead: Encourage a “culture of process” throughout your organization. Yes, this is just the headline, and there’s a whole lot of thought and work associated with making it real. Not everything can be reduced to an e-zine article. Sorry. Bad fix #4: Holding people accountable What it is: According to its proponents, it’s how to make sure everyone does their best to avoid making mistakes and do whatever it takes to get the job done. Why it’s a problem: Holding people accountable is root cause analysis predicated on the assumption that if something goes wrong it must be someone’s fault. It’s a flawed assumption because most often, when something goes wrong, it’s the result of bad systems and processes, not someone screwing up. When a manager holds someone accountable they’re really just blame-shifting. Managers are, after all, accountable for their organization’s systems and processes, aren’t they? Second problem: If you hold people accountable when something goes wrong, they’ll do their best to conceal the problem from you. And the longer nobody deals with a problem, the worse it gets. One more: If you hold people accountable whenever something doesn’t work, they’re unlikely to take any risks, because why would they? Why it’s a temptation: Finding someone to blame is, compared to serious root cause analysis, easy, and fixing the “problem” is, compared to improving systems and practices, child’s play. As someone once said, hard work pays off sometime in the indefinite future, but laziness pays off right now. What to do instead: Whenever something goes wrong, first fix the immediate problem — aka “stop the bleeding.” Then, figure out which systems and processes failed to prevent the problem and fix them so the organization is better prepared next time. And if it turns out the problem really was that someone messed up, figure out if they need better training and coaching, if they just got unlucky, if they took a calculated risk, or if they really are a problem employee you need to punish — what “holding people accountable” means in practice. Bad fix #5: Keeping you in the loop What it is: A consequence of the no-surprises rule — if something happens in your department, you’re supposed to know about it before it becomes visible to your peers and management. Why it’s a problem: It isn’t a problem. Unless, that is, you make keeping you in the loop a higher priority than fixing what’s gone wrong, and especially if it means whoever is trying to fix the problem has to get managerial approval before taking whatever steps they need to take. Why it’s a temptation: Being kept in the loop reduces the fear that a manager will be blindsided and look bad to their management. Also, it makes a manager feel important: “I have to take this call” is almost as compelling as, back in the old days, having their pager start to buzz. What to do instead: This is a softball, isn’t it? Just make sure everyone knows that, should a problem arise, priority #1 is fixing it. Briefing you is priority #2 or #3. Or maybe #27. Not everything is hard to figure out. And, a suggestion Set up an anonymous one-question survey. Invite all IT employees to participate. The one question builds on the aforementioned Peter Drucker observation: “What are we in IT management doing that interferes with your ability to do your work? Publicize the most common responses, take them seriously, and repeat the survey quarterly. And if any of the common responses surprise you, revisit your organizational listening program, because clearly the one you have in place isn’t working. IT Leadership [...]
For companies looking for an edge in the tight talent market, a solid DEI strategy and employee engagement often go hand in hand, creating a balance that fosters an inclusive work environment. When employees feel they can bring their authentic selves to work, it can result in higher levels of employee productivity and satisfaction, improved retention rates, and more effective recruiting efforts. Blue Cross Blue Shield North Carolina (BCBSNC) is one organization reaping the benefits of a robust DEI strategy, which the company began overhauling in 2020, starting with the establishment of an official diversity council. The idea was sparked by CEO Tunde Sotunde, MD, MBA, FAAP, to establish a “strategy, measurable goals, and a roadmap” around DEI, says Pam Diggs, MPH, director of diversity, equity, and inclusion at BCBSNC. And those efforts have paid off, with BCBSNC coming in at No. 1 on Computerworld’s 2023 Best Places to Work in IT list for large companies. BCBSNC also ranked No. 1 for diversity and No. 2 for employee engagement. As part of its DEI strategy, BCBSNC focused on three areas — people and culture, healthcare equity, and strategic partnerships for economic mobility and community. Establishing this as the “Northstar” has helped realize DEI efforts throughout the organization, getting everyone on the same page and working toward shared goals, says Diggs.   “We deepened our commitment to ‘better health care for all.’ It is embedded in our purpose. When we say ‘for all,’ we are looking at the way we treat our employees internally as well, making sure that all our employees feel like this is an inclusive space to work in and to grow in. That way, they’re able to show up in an inclusive way for our customers and our communities,” she says. Providing a ladder to the top As part of its DEI efforts, BCBSNC runs an IT Leadership and Diversity Development Experience Rotation program, called Ladder, that connects BIPOC IT leaders with BIPOC IT professionals early in their careers. These relationships help entry-level and early-career professionals to develop their careers and navigate the workplace. Representation is crucial, especially for improving diversity up the ranks. “You can’t be what you can’t see,” Diggs says, adding that BIPOC and women IT workers often don’t see themselves in leadership positions, simply because of the lack of representation further up the ladder toward the executive level. BCBSNC’s Ladder program addresses this issue by fostering leadership relationships for BIPOC IT workers. By connecting seasoned IT pros who understand the nuances of being underrepresented in the industry, early-career IT workers gain access to a wealth of knowledge, mentorship, and a roadmap toward leadership. Participants also have access to tailored training opportunities, as well as opportunities for sponsorship, which can be vital for progressing your career. “To have a mentor is so important. We see in our data that the participants in our mentorship programs have higher retention rates and higher internal mobility rates, but then the sponsorship takes it a step further.” Diggs says. “We’re encouraging our mentors to think about ways that they can be sponsors. Taking a step further to advocate for individuals when they’re not in the room.” Rotational program as onramp to IT The rotational component of Ladder recruits companywide through posted opportunities and direct outreach to employees who qualify. Employees who qualify include anyone in a “pre-professional role” who has an interest in learning what it takes to be an IT professional. Hiring internally gives the added benefit of bringing on workers familiar with other sides of the business. That knowledge can serve IT well, as they’ll bring outside perspectives from other departments to their roles. For example, someone who has worked in customer service may have a unique take on process improvements, roadblocks, and technology that can help improve the experience for employees and customers alike. The rotational program takes place over two years, with participants cycling through three rotations to get a feel for various opportunities in IT. Participants are also given the chance to connect with leaders in various areas of the company. Once they’ve completed the program and identify where they want to go next, participants are typically matched with a career at Blue Cross. Tynia Burrows found out about the Rotational Development Program (RDP) through an internal posting. Prior to joining the program, Burrows worked as a lead project coordinator specialist in Portfolio Management and was “always curious about other opportunities I could take at Blue Cross NC,” she says. Her first rotation was with File Transfer Services, and she’s currently in her second rotation with Enterprise Security. Tynia Burrows, Blue Cross Blue Shield North Carolina BCBSNC The program has completely changed Burrows’ perception of IT, noting that RDP “brings new perspectives and personalities together,” giving everyone a “different outlook when solving programs or improving processes,” she says. “The structure and support I’ve received through the Rotational Development Program is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in my career. This program is a great stepping stone, especially for those who have the drive, but are unsure how to seek out opportunities on their own. I’m thankful Blue Cross NC has this program available to employees — it’s allowed me to explore new opportunities, build connections throughout the company, and has helped me understand my value and strengths,” says Burrows. Opening talent pipelines through internships BCBSNC IT also works closely with the talent acquisition team and employee networks to recruit at women-focused IT conferences and events. The department has also reshaped its talent pipeline to support diversity through recruitment and internship programs centered around HBCUs. This year, BCBSNC partnered with the North Carolina’s Governor’s HBCU internship program and recently restructured requirements for the company’s rotational program to give interns the opportunity to apply for RDP after their internship ends. BCBSNC also collaborates with local colleges, such as Durham Tech, to recruit diverse tech talent for apprenticeships and internships. Ultimately, BCBSNC’s commitment to DEI has helped diversify the workforce, while bolstering employee engagement and retention. Diversity is more than a benchmark for BCBSNC; it’s a vital part of the overall business strategy that helps to drive growth and innovation, as well as employee and customer satisfaction. “That’s what diversity is all about — it helps companies, teams, and programs be more innovative, more creative, and more productive because we’re bringing in perspectives,” says Diggs. And those perspectives help position BCBSNC to better impact the constituencies it serves, Diggs says, adding that BCBSNC has bolstered its focus not only on equity in the workplace but on healthcare equality as well, given that several “social drivers of health, transportation, affordable housing, food security, and social isolation” can impact up to 80% of a person’s overall health and wellbeing. The organization now has an entire team dedicated to identifying ways they can change and restructure benefits for members to improve their experience, with a focus on DEI. This group also works to find opportunities for the organization to invest in local communities, with a priority on addressing issues surround systemic bias in the healthcare industry.  “It can be anything from making sure that we’re addressing systemic bias, that we are connecting equity to the way that we do business, or the way that our providers interact with our patients,” says Diggs, adding that if employees are engaged and satisfied at work, they will be better equipped to help customers and patients navigating the healthcare system. Diversity and Inclusion [...]
When leaders consider how technology has enabled the transformation of business models over the past several years, few would disagree that the world has changed dramatically. Retail, entertainment, music, and banking have largely moved online. It’s a familiar story: Netflix beat Blockbuster; Amazon beat Borders. More recently, Tesla has transformed the experience of buying, owning, and driving a car. Tesla, Uber, and many other stories of business innovation have this in common: Their business models have technology at their cores. They’re in the software business, and they compete on user experience. They recognize that innovative use of technology is enabling new business models with competition-crushing advantages built right in. This is why innovation programs have become so critical to sustaining the success of enterprises. Yet, many leaders have not accepted that their organizations need to change at the same pace as the rest of the world. They haven’t examined the explicit and implicit organizational values that could be holding them back from innovation. In addition, they may have yet to embrace and incubate innovation as an essential function of their businesses. It’s essential that organizations foster innovation to keep moving ahead, implementing meaningful changes to help incubate innovation. We often suggest an innovation portfolio framework, outlined below, to accelerate technology-powered transformation. Why incubating technology-focused innovation is important Securing and maintaining competitive advantage now requires organizations to accelerate technology-powered transformation. Whether they use custom-built software or software as a service, organizations’ processes are orchestrated and supported by the software they deploy. The technologies they buy and build to support transformation are vital to their continued success. Businesses must remain ever-ready to innovate as an aspect of their routine operations. Building the capabilities to refine and innovate new business models is critical. Two stories of innovation and competition illustrate this point: Netscape founder Mark Andreesen has famously said: “software is eating the world.” He should know. In 1994, his open-source Netscape Navigator browser transformed the difficult-to-navigate world wide web with a user-friendly point-and-click interface. Soon after, Netscape achieved 80% of the browser market. In 1995, Microsoft launched Internet Explorer and, by bundling it with its winning Windows 95 product, swiftly eclipsed Navigator as the leading browser. Then in 2016, Google beat Internet Explorer with its Chrome browser, attaining this success on the strength of Google’s superior search technology. Consider Domino’s, which redefined itself nearly a decade ago by transforming into a technology company. This iterative transformation started in 2015 when Domino’s redefined ordering pizza delivery via Twitter. Customers could tweet “#EasyOrder” or a pizza slice emoji to @Domino’s, and within 30 minutes, their pizza would be at their door. Behind the scenes, the company linked their customers’ Domino’s and Twitter profiles to enable this innovation. Domino’s knew each customer’s favorite order and preferred payment method. Does it sound like a lot could go wrong with this service? It did. Even so, Domino’s celebrates the experience as one of their early opportunities to become the technology company they are today. They’ve since added the next iteration, a chatbot, Order with Dom. They made the decision to be innovative, to be tech-first – and to change their culture.  It’s paid off, because through innovations like this one, they routinely top the list of quick-serve restaurants in the United States. How to get into the software business What does it take for an organization to shift from its current business-as-usual mindset and get into the software business? It takes incubating a winning innovation program, and that starts with knowing the customer and shifting the organization’s values. It takes adopting an innovation framework that accelerates the organization’s capacity for transformation. Knowing the customer. Successful innovation takes presenting new value propositions directly to customers. Businesses can explore the journey their customers want to go on versus the journey they’re taking today. What they learn through such explorations leads to identifying tech-enabled ways to make customers’ lives easier and more convenient. As Jeff Bezos put it, speaking about Amazon’s development of the Kindle: “We’re not competitor obsessed, we’re customer obsessed. We start with what the customer needs and we work backwards.” Shifting organizational values. Innovation programs spur change – even to an organization’s own values. In particular: “failure is okay” is an essential value in innovative organizations. Without failure, organizations won’t change, because folks who should be fostering and pursuing innovation will be too busy playing it safe. It’s admittedly difficult to begin this shift as it requires change to organizational culture, values, and reward systems. But remember Domino’s? Their Twitter feature failed many times, but the company still counts the experience among its innovation successes, because they learned a lot through delivering and operating a revolutionary new service. Establishing a framework for innovation Leaders are starting to understand that innovation is a macro trend. When leaders reach that realization, they’ll want to bring all their authority to bear to incubate a strong and empowered innovation program. First, they’ll want to consider where the function will reside within the organization, who will own it, and how it will be supported. They’ll want to ensure the owner of the innovation program has real power to make decisions and drive change throughout the enterprise. (Many organizations already have what they call an innovation program. It may be funded, and it may be operational, but if it lacks power to affect change, it won’t achieve transformational success. As mentioned above, leaders must be willing to tolerate failure to move forward.) Once ownership and support are established, innovation leaders will want to take a portfolio approach to explore several innovations in parallel and balance investments across those innovations. The portfolio approach conveys this advantage: if the program is exploring ten or twelve new ideas, having one idea that results in significant transformation is a solid success for the whole innovation program. “It’s okay to fail” means only a few new ideas may flourish. If no innovations grow into significant transformation, it may mean the ideas are too wild or neglectful of customer desires. If all experiments grow into operationalized changes, then the team might be playing it too safely. Ideally, it’s not just okay to fail. It’s great to fail fast to build momentum, maximize learning and manage risk. Failing fast means thinking big but starting small by pursuing time-boxed innovations. When the time’s expired, teams can review results and then scale up successful experiments. They can learn from failures by completing retrospectives in the agile way: exploring what worked and what didn’t while identifying underlying causes. Innovation: an essential business function It’s technology that drives transformation of business models today. Innovative business models have technology at their cores. Every organization that means to keep ahead of its competition must be in the software business, and that’s why incubating innovation programs has become essential to sustaining success and remaining competitive. Leaders can incubate innovation by acquiring deep knowledge of customers’ needs, adopting “it’s okay to fail” as a core value, and establishing a framework to pursue a portfolio of innovations swiftly. If an enterprise has not been changing at the same pace as the rest of the world, it isn’t too late to embrace and incubate innovation as an essential function of any business. Learn more about Protiviti’s Innovation vs. Technical Debt Tug of War survey results. Connect with the Authors Christine LivingstonManaging Director, Emerging Technology Chris DanielManaging Director, Cloud Solutions Nathan HanksManaging Director, Emerging Technology Digital Transformation [...]
Public cloud services provider Oracle on Monday said it will launch a new cloud region in Serbia, which will make it the first among rivals including Microsoft, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google and IBM, to offer a hyperscale data center in the Eastern European country. The new cloud region, which will serve Southeast Europe, will be located at the Jovanovac village region in the proximity of Serbia’s fourth largest city, Kragujevac, Oracle said in a statement. The Serbian government has plans to develop Kragujevac into an innovation hub, earmarking nearly 56,000 square meters and €120 million (US$130 million) for the entire effort, which is to be carried out in three phases. The new region will also support the increasing cloud computing demands of private and public sector organizations throughout Serbia, Oracle said. Oracle will offer over 100 Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) services and applications, including Oracle Autonomous Database, MySQL HeatWave Database Service, and Oracle Container Engine for Kubernetes via the upcoming region. Other Oracle cloud regions in Europe are located in cities including Paris, Marseille, Frankfurt, Milan, Amsterdam, Madrid, Stockholm, Zurich, London, and Newport. Also, the company runs two government cloud regions in the UK. Most rival hyperscalers have presence in cities such as London, Frankfurt, Paris, Milan, Zurich, Stockholm and Madrid. Microsoft is planning to open new regions in Vienna, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Athens, Milan, Warsaw,  and Madrid, the company’s website shows. Oracle continues to invest in cloud regions Oracle has continued to invest in expanding its cloud region footprint in an effort to compete with rival hyperscalers including AWS, Microsoft and Google Cloud. In addition to its existing regions in Europe, Oracle has announced intentions to launch two sovereign cloud regions in the region, located in  Germany and Spain. Last month, the company announced its intent to open a second region in Singapore to meet demand. Oracle also has plans to invest about $2.4 billion every quarter for the next few quarters on cloud infrastructure, CEO Safra Catz said during an earnings call for the quarter that ended in November. In December last year, the company launched a public cloud region in Chicago, its fourth in the US after Virginia, California, and Arizona. Cloud Computing [...]
After years of prioritizing digital transformation and focusing on innovation, many CIOs are reporting that their No. 1 goal now is supporting operational efficiency. CIO.com’s 2023 State of the CIO report, its 22nd such annual survey, showed that more CIOs today are seeing improved operational efficiency as the top imperative. Some 45% of respondents listed “increasing operational efficiency” as a business need driving their IT agenda, propelling it to the top spot on the list of business initiatives driving IT budgets today, besting other critical business needs such as increasing cybersecurity protections, furthering transformation, and even improving profitability. But IT leaders say there a host of other business needs shaping IT initiatives today that are not only nearly as important as driving operational efficiency but are frequently supportive of it. That’s what Matt Mead, CTO of the technology modernization firm SPR, sees in the market. “Driving efficiency is very much on everyone’s minds,” he says, while quickly adding that CIOs are investing in technologies that help them address multiple business needs. He cites automation as a case in point, noting that the technology can transform processes as well as improve customer and employee experiences, all while creating more efficient operations. Cloud migrations and data analytics projects do much the same, Mead says. Top 15 business needs driving IT spend The State of the CIO survey asked 837 IT leaders and 201 line-of-business (LOB) participants a range of questions regarding their current and future IT strategies, with 56% reporting that they expected their overall IT budgets to increase this year. In terms of business initiatives driving their IT spending this year, the top 15 enterprise needs are: Increasing operational efficiency: 45% Increasing cybersecurity protections: 44% Transforming existing business processes: 38% Improving the customer experience: 36% Improving profitability: 27% Increasing employee productivity: 25% New product development: 22% Increasing topline revenue for the business: 20% Developing new digital revenue streams: 19% Improving/optimizing the employee experience: 19% Enhancing hybrid work technologies: 18% Improving talent acquisition/retention: 17% Meeting compliance requirements: 16% Monetizing company data: 14% Adhering to environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards: 11% The top portion of this year’s list varies from last year’s findings in notable ways, with increasing cybersecurity protections having been the top business need driving IT budgets in 2022, followed by increasing operational efficiency, improving customer experience, transforming existing business processes, improving employee productivity, and improving profitability. The shifts suggest that a portion of enterprises are moving on somewhat from last year’s protection posture in favor of revamping business processes and increasing efficiencies, and that the pandemic’s lens on employee productivity is giving way to an eye on profitability as economic headwinds rise. Business pressures drive IT Multiple CIOs across various industries say their IT agendas line up with the State of the CIO Report findings. Woody Groton, the CIO for Draper, a nonprofit research and development organization, until April 2023, says the IT strategy he had put in place is a testament to that. “Operational efficiency and profitability and productivity all tie into the business pressures we’re all seeing,” he says, adding CIOs continue to hear calls for IT to help reduce costs and drive efficiencies. “There’s a renewed focus on all this; that’s something I’m experiencing.” But Groton says the pressure for operational efficiency isn’t about identifying technologies that can help slash costs — as had been the case in the past. Instead, the imperative is to determine how IT can improve operational efficiency while also meeting other key business needs, such as transforming processes and improving customer and employee experiences, he says. The IT plans Gorton had implemented for 2023 at Draper called for moving the company from an on-prem ERP system to a software-as-a-service option; Groton says such a move enables business units to update existing business processes, with the expectation that the company will enjoy both transformation and improved operational efficiency as a result. Groton’s IT strategy called for moving other systems to the cloud to gain efficiencies, spur additional process transformations, and boost the company’s cybersecurity posture — all top business priorities at Draper that correspond to the CIO.com research findings. Automation efforts, such as robotic process automation (RPA), and implementing software with built-in AI capabilities are other key initiatives, given their ability to shift workers away from mundane time-consuming tasks to higher-value activities, thereby generating further efficiencies and improved user experiences, Groton says. As Draper CIO, Groton also focused on meeting the company’s push for maturing its cybersecurity posture. To that end, Draper adopted a zero-trust security model, with IT implementing various technologies, such as network detection and response (NDR) software to support that defense-in-depth strategy. Draper’s continuing drive to maximize its use of data also meant more investments in business intelligence and analytics tools, Groton says, while its ongoing hybrid work environment necessitates ongoing investments in technologies that support and improve both worker experience and productivity. Max Horne, CIO and senior vice president of Colonial Savings in Texas, has a similar list of business objectives to fulfill. He specifically listed operational efficiency, cybersecurity, and “projects that can help us bring more business in” as top drivers at Colonial. Maturing the bank’s data and analytics program and improving customer experience are also top business objectives today, Horne says, noting, however, that these items are perennial priorities, with their rankings on the priority list changing mainly based on fluctuations in economic and business conditions. “I find my project portfolio has always had those things in it,” Horne says. Addressing multiple business at once Other research shows a similar list of business imperatives shaping the IT agenda this year. The IT Priorities: 2023 report, conducted by research and consulting firm Frost & Sullivan for tech company GoTo, surveyed 1,000 IT decision-makers and found that growing revenue was the No. 1 business objective for the year and that 83% of surveyed organizations intended to achieve that growth by acquiring more customers. Improving operational efficiencies was second on the list of business objectives, followed by reducing costs and increasing customer satisfaction. Meanwhile, Snow Software’s 2023 IT Priorities Report found that reducing IT costs topped the list, followed by reducing security risks, delivering digital transformation, adopting new technologies to improve day-to-day operations, and driving company growth. CIOs say they’re working to collectively address those multiple and often overlapping needs. That’s the case for James Pennington, vice president, CIO, and HIPAA security officer at Southwell, a nonprofit healthcare system in Georgia. He lists the business need to accelerate growth, strengthen the workforce, and reduce expenses as his top drivers for IT spending. He also cites the Southwell’s commitment to safety and quality as a top business need shaping IT today. “As with most of the healthcare provider market, we are struggling to rebound to pre-pandemic volumes and revenue. Most of our technology initiatives are based on tangible ROI and/or maximization of our legacy investments. As such, our strategy centers around innovative solutions leveraging key strategic vendors in order to capitalize value,” he says. Micha Albertijn, CIO of Meat&More, a vertically integrated Belgium-based company that incorporates food production and processing as well as distribution and retail activities, says he, too, is working to meet multiple business needs of near equal importance. First, Meat&More is pushing for operational excellence. “The more efficient and effective our processes are, the better our company is running,” Albertijn says. “This can be translated to how we offer digital solutions to our employees and customers and vendors.” The other two main drivers are becoming more customer-centric and containing spending, which means benchmarking activities from a financial point of view and working to “right size” in terms of budget, he says. IT is working on various initiatives to support those business imperatives, with several IT projects delivering value in all three areas, Albertijn says, pointing to his team’s work with the sales and marketing department on data-driven know-your-customer projects, which help Meat&More be more customer-centric while supporting top-line growth and efficient use of marketing and sales spend. “A topic that was already high on our agenda before my arrival but today is even far higher on the agenda is cybersecurity,” Albertijn adds. “We feel due to circumstances and also due to recent events that cybersecurity is asking for far more attention.” Consequently, he and his IT team are spending more resources in that area, with money going to improving the team’s security skills and implementing next-generation security tools such as those that use AI to deliver more effective threat detection and response. Focusing on the enterprise mission CIOs say such intense focus on business needs — and aligning IT spending and the overall IT strategy to them — has become critical for enterprise success. Bryan Kennedy, director of museum technology and digital operations at the Science Museum of Minnesota, speaks to that point, saying that the museum’s executive team is focused on “using technology to drive forward its mission.” For Kennedy, that means investing in technologies such as automation and AI-based tools to streamline operations with an eye toward delivering efficiencies — echoing a familiar refrain. It also means moving more workloads to the cloud, which is both helping the museum to transform processes while also cutting costs. And it means investing in data and analytics to help the museum become more data-driven — with the goal of using those insights to understand where it can grow and how it can move further into the digital space. At the same time, Kennedy — like his CIO colleagues in other industries — says he has seen his business-side colleagues become more committed to maturing the museum’s cybersecurity posture. Kennedy has invested in various security technologies — including a password management tool and cloud access security brokers — as he moves the institute to a zero-trust security model. Kennedy’s priorities mirror other findings in the 2023 State of the CIO survey, which noted that CIOs this year anticipate their involvement to increase in cybersecurity (70%), data analysis (55%), data privacy (55%), AI/machine learning (55%), and customer experience (53%). The study further found that most respondents (77%) believe the visibility of the CIO role will continue to be elevated within their organizations. Already, 38% of LOB respondents consider the CIO as a strategic advisor who proactively identifies business needs and opportunities with another 25% viewing the CIO as a consultant who is evaluating and advising on business needs and technology choices. Budget, Budgeting, Business IT Alignment, IT Leadership, Technology Industry [...]