Nothing lasts forever in IT, and that includes your organizational structure.

Deciding on whether to scrap or keep existing infrastructure of any stripe isn’t easy. A complete rebuild can be disruptive, time-consuming, and risky. And if the initiative misses its goal, or runs over budget, the CIO’s job may be at stake.

Yet, as any IT leader knows, when technical infrastructure fails to meet enterprise needs, hampering productivity and innovation, it’s often time to rebuild from scratch. The same can be said for how IT operations, workflows, and teams are structured. Knowing when it’s time for a wholesale reorg requires even more from an IT leader than knowing when the bits and bytes have worn out their shelf life.

Has your organization’s IT structure outlasted its usefulness? To find out, check out the following danger signals.

1. Past incremental restructuring attempts have failed

Updates and improvised rearrangements can keep an aging organizational structure tottering along for a while, but the repair bucket eventually runs dry. At that point, the way work is done, including who does what and with whom, starts damaging workflows, decision-making, collaboration, customer service, and other critical processes.

When reorganizing any infrastructure, it’s important to understand what will be essential to retain. The same can be said for IT operations itself. “The goal isn’t to restructure with nothing remaining from what was valuable and meaningful,” says Andrew Sinclair, a managing director in consulting firm Accenture’s technology strategy and advisory practice. “Change requires something that is stable and durable.”

Restructuring can create uncertainty and stress in an organization, and it shouldn’t be used lightly or regularly, Sinclair explains. Yet a radical change is sometimes necessary. “Consider new ways of structuring how work is done, breaking down existing functional and organizational silos so teams can be combined with the full set of skills to be successful, while also reducing dependencies that can slow work.”

2. You’re fixing problems instead of delivering results

A department that lives in conflict typically struggles to efficiently execute strategies and tasks, observes Eric Lefebvre, CTO at Sovos, a tax compliance and regulatory reporting software provider. He notes that IT organizations can usually work through almost any problem as long as the parties grow together. “But if the design or role clarity is a constant source of friction, the results will inevitably be suboptimal.”

The restructuring plan’s first step should be assessing the existing environment as well as the ideal end state. “A solid understanding of the environment informs the structure and enables drilling into the next level of detail,” Lefebvre explains.

As the restructuring strategy takes shape, Lefebvre advises coordinating plans and decisions with the enterprise’s human resources leader to ensure that compliance and other important mandates will be met. “External peers in your network that have performed similar [restructuring] efforts are also a great resource for information on approaches and pitfalls to avoid,” he adds.

3. There’s been a major enterprise shakeup

Whenever a significant enterprise change occurs, such as a merger, major acquisition, or radical new business direction, the IT organization may have to be rebuilt to accommodate the new reality.

An important first step, once the decision to restructure IT has been made, is to be open and transparent with team members about the current situation, says Dena Campbell, CIO at Vaco, a global consulting firm. “Employees will want to know what it means for them and their roles,” she explains.

Campbell suggests that IT should work closely with HR to develop a comprehensive communication plan that ensures all parties fully understand what’s happening. “If you’re communicating with employees, any frustration or anxiety will be mitigated,” she says.

Establishing a realistic transition timeline is also necessary. The best way to set a timeline is to understand IT’s current position and then identify the restructuring goals, Campbell says. It’s also important to understand, and factor into the plan, that productivity and efficiency will dip when there’s so much sudden change. “Everyone will need time to adjust,” she advises. “Be realistic about setting a timeline and include time for the disruption itself, since it can take a while for the dust to settle and to get buy-in for the new plan going forward.”

4. An unhappy IT team

An obvious — and ominous — sign of org structure failure is when IT team leaders and members begin complaining about their tasks. “That’s something C-suite executives need to listen to,” says Tom Kirkham, CEO and CISO of cybersecurity firm IronTech Security.

The CIO in particular should know how to respond to internal strife. “A company culture that’s toxic will render less productivity and subpar outcomes, which will ultimately compromise the bottom line,” Kirkham warns. “A good executive, one who practices servant leadership, knows that, and how to respond to internal strife quickly and deliberately.”

As the restructuring planning begins, all stakeholders should be given the opportunity to voice their concerns and needs equally. “This is the only way to establish an IT culture that doesn’t erode from within,” Kirkham says. The restructuring should also establish priorities that contribute to the enterprise’s overall well-being, including its internal and external security.

5. Essential tasks are forever stuck in neutral

IT has fallen into a rut. Critical attributes, such as innovation, initiative, and transformation, are either absent or rarely seen. Decisions are made slowly, reluctantly, and infrequently. Meetings may be held to discuss critical issues, but end without resolution.

Meanwhile, necessary changes remain in limbo, as previous decisions are questioned during the execution phase. “These [signs] often signal there’s confusion as to who the key stakeholders are, where authority lies, or [there’s] a mismatch between organizational structure and how work is intended to flow,” says Ola Chowning, a partner with global technology research and advisory firm ISG.

“Delays or erratic workflows may be the result of organizational confusion,” Chowning observes. She notes that confusion is usually caused by a disconnect between the organizational structure and the operating model, and typically manifests over time. “This may be due to a new way of operating — such as a move to agile or product-oriented delivery, the distribution or centralization of major functions, or the influx and/or outflux of people,” Chowning says.

Full restructuring is a drastic move. Chowning believes that it’s a decision never to be made lightly. “Departments should make sure a reorganization is being done for a specific reason or need, and not as a knee-jerk reaction when a key leader exits, when a new CIO enters, or because it hasn’t been done in a while,” she explains. “Reorganization should signal to the entire department that you are expecting changes to outcomes and ways of working.”

Creating the new operating model will require a significant amount of time. “My experience has been anywhere from five to eight weeks for the complete design,” Chowning says. “Placing names in frames and selecting leaders, if that’s required, would follow, and that timeline is most often dependent on the HR practices of the enterprise.”

6. IT has a lousy internal reputation

The most important sign that something needs to change is when C-suite colleagues begin harboring a negative perception of the IT department, says Ben Grinnell, managing director at business and IT consulting firm North Highland. “Common perception issues include when IT is viewed as a cost center by the CFO; when IT is the last place the business turns to for help with digital innovation of its products and services; and when IT has more roles that don’t work directly with the business than those that do.”

To counter negative perceptions, the CIO should consider reconfiguring IT into a more flexible structure. “The organization’s efforts should be outward facing, with the goal of changing the perception of IT,” Grinnell explains. He advises CIOs to tap into discussions about how IT can drive revenue and increase margins through innovation, and what investments will be needed to enable change.

IT is an ecosystem, Grinnell states. “Any restructuring needs to include the entire workforce, including the employees, consultants, contractors, system integrators, and outsourced elements.”

Grinnell believes that IT restructuring should never treated as just another project. “It should be viewed as an always-on transformation, not a project that will one day be finished,” he explains. “That’s an unrealistic goal that sets the team up for failure.”

IT Leadership, IT Strategy

According to Infosys research, data and artificial intelligence (AI) could generate $467 billion in incremental profits worldwide and become the cornerstone of enterprises gaining a competitive edge.

But while opportunities to use AI are very real – and ChatGPT’s democratisation is accelerating generative AI test-and-learn faster than QR code adoption during the Covid pandemic – the utopia of substantial business wins through autonomous AI is a fair way off. Getting there requires process and operational transformation, new levels of data governance and accountability, business and IT collaboration, and customer and stakeholder trust.

The reality is many organisations still struggle with the data and analytics foundations required to progress down an advanced AI path. Infosys research found 63 per cent of AI models function at basic capability only, are driven by humans, and often fall short on data verification, data practices and data strategies. It’s not surprising only one in four practitioners are highly satisfied with their data and AI tools so far.

This status quo can be partly explained by the fact eight in 10 only began their AI journey in the last four years. Just 15 per cent of organisations have achieved what’s described as an ‘evolved’ AI state, where systems can find causes, act on recommendations and refine their own performances without oversight.

Then there are the trust and accuracy considerations around AI utilisation to contend with. Gartner predictions forecast 85 per cent of all AI projects by 2022to wind up with an erroneous outcome through mistakes, errors, bias and things that go wrong. One in three companies, according to Infosys, are using data processes that increase the risk of bias in AI right now.

Ethical use of AI is therefore an increasingly important movement being led by government, industry groups and thought leaders as this disruptive technology advances. It’s for these important reasons the Australian Government deployed the AI Ethics Principles framework, which followed an AI ethics trial in 2019 supported by brands such as National Australia Bank and Telstra.

Yet even with all these potential inhibitors, it’s clear the appetite for AI is growing and spend is increasing with it.

So what can IT leaders and their teams do now to take AI out of the data science realm, and into practical business applications and innovation pipelines? What data governance, operational and ethical considerations must we factor in? And what human oversight is required?

It’s these questions technology and transformation leaders from finance, education and retail sectors explored during a panel session at the Infosys APAC Confluence event. Here’s what we discovered.

Operational efficiency is the no-brainer use case for AI

While panellists agreed use cases for AI could well be endless and societally positive, the ones gaining most favour right now orient to operational efficiency.

“We are seeing AI drive a lot deeper into the organisation around how we can revolutionise our business processes, change how we run our organisation, and all add that secret sauce from a data and analytics perspective to improve customer outcomes,” said ANZ Bank CIO for Institutional Banking and Markets, Peter Barrass.

An example is meeting legislative requirements to monitor communications traders generate in 23 countries. AI is successfully used to analyse, interpret and monitor for fraudulent activity at a global scale. Crunching and digitisation of documents, and chatbots are other examples.

Across retail and logistics sectors, nearly three in 10 retailers are actively adopting AI with strong business impact, said Infosys APAC regional head for Consumer, Retail and Logistics, Andal Alwan. While personalisation is often a headline item, AI is also increasing operational efficiencies and frictionless experiences across the end-to-end supply chain.

Cyber security is another favoured case for AI across multiple sectors, once again tying to risk mitigation and governance imperatives.

Advancing AI can’t be done without a policy and process rethink

But realising advanced AI isn’t only a technical or data actionability feat. It requires transformation at a systematic, operational and cultural level.

Just take the explosion of accessible AI to students from a learning perspective. With mass adoption comes the need for education institutions such as the Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools (MACS) to actively build policies and positions around AI use. One consideration is how open accessibility of such tools can influence students. Another is protecting academic integrity.

Then it’s making sure leadership is very clear from an education system perspective to gain consistency across MACS’ 300 schools for how to utilise AI in learning. “We need to educate our teachers to be able to think about how their students will use AI and how they can maximise the learning for individual students, taking on-board some of these types of tools available,” MACS chief technology and transformation officer, Vicki Russell, said.   

Elevating data governance and sharing is critical

Simultaneously, data governance and practices need refinement. Alwan outlined two dimensions to the data strategy debate: Intra-organisation; and inter-organisation.

“Intra-organisation is about how I govern the data: What data I collect, why I’m collecting it and how am I protecting and using it,” she explained. “Then there’s inter-organisation, or between retailers, producers and logistic firms, for instance. Collaboration and sharing of data is very important. Unless there is visibility end-to-end of the supply chain, a retailer isn’t going to know what’s available and when it’s going to be arriving. All of this requires huge amounts of data, which means we’re going to need AI for scaling and to predict trends too.”

A further area of data collaboration is between retailers and consumers, which Alwan referred to as “autonomous supply chains”. “It’s about understanding demand signals from the point of consumption, be it online or physical, then translating that in real time to organisation systems to get more security of planning and supply chain. That’s another area of AI maturity we’re seeing evolving.”

Infosys Knowledge Institute’s Data + AI Radar found organisations wanting to realise business outcomes from advanced AI must develop data practices that encourage sharing and position data as currency.

But even as the financial sector works to pursue data sharing through the Open Banking regime, Barrass reflected on the need to protect the information and privacy of customers and be deliberate about the value data has to both organisation and customer.

“In the world of data, you have to remember you have multiple stakeholders,” he commented. “The customer and person who owns the data and who the data is associated with is really the curator of that information, and should have right to where it’s shared and how it’s shared. Corporates like banks have a responsibility to customers to enable that. That needs to be wrapped up in your data strategy.”

Internally, utilising the wealth of education learning and data points MACS has been capturing is a critical foundation to using AI successfully.

“The data and knowledge a business has about itself before it enters into an AI space is really important in that maturity curve,” Russell said. “Having great data and knowing what you have to a certain extent before you jump into your AI body of work or activities is important. But I also think AI can help us leapfrog. There’s knowing enough but also being open to what you might discover along that journey.”

Building trust with customers around AI still needs human oversight

What’s clear is the onus is on organisations to structurally address trust and bias issues, especially as they lean towards allowing AI to generate outcomes for customers autonomously. Ethical use of data and trust in what and how information is used must come into play. As a result, parallel human oversight of what the machine is doing to ensure outcomes are accurate and ethical remains critical.

“Trust in the source of information and really clear ownership of that information is really important, so there’s clear accountability in the organisational structure for who is responsible for maintaining a piece of information driving customer decision outcomes,” said Barrass.  “Then over time, as this matures, we potentially could have two sets of AI tools looking at the same problem sets and validating each other’s outcomes based on different data sets. So you at least get some validation of one set of information drivers.”

Transparency of AI outcomes is another critical element with customers if trust in AI is to evolve over time. This again comes back to stronger collaboration with data owners and stakeholders, an ability to detail the data points driving an AI-based outcome, and explaining why a customer got the result they did.

“It’s very important to be conscious of the bias and how you balance and provide vast sets of data that constantly work against the bias and correct it,” Alwan added. “That’s going to be key for the success of AI in the business world.” 

We all need to work with ChatGPT, not against it

Even as we strive for responsible AI use, ChatGPT is accelerating generative AI adoption at an unprecedented rate. Test cases are being seen in everything from architectural design to writing poetry, creating law statement of claims and developing software code. Panellists agreed we’re only scratching the surface of use cases this generative AI can tackle.

In banking, it’s about experimenting in a controlled way and understanding the ‘why’ so generative AI is applied to achieve solid business outcome, Barrass said. In the world of retail and consumer-facing industries, conversational commerce is already front and centre and ChatGPT is set to accelerate this further, Alwan said.

For Russell, the most important thing is ensuring the future generation learns how to harness openly accessible AI tools and can prompt it appropriately to gather great information out of it, then reference it. In other words, education evolves and works with it.

It’s a good lesson for us all.


On the morning of Feb. 24, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine, escalating a years-long conflict between the two countries. In the year since those first pre-dawn attacks, hundreds of thousands of troops and civilians have been wounded or killed, millions of Ukrainians have been displaced, and cities have been shattered.

The previously rapidly growing IT industry in Ukraine was also rocked by the invasion. In 2021, the country’s computer services exports had more than tripled over the previous five years to $6.9 billion — 38% of the country’s gross domestic product — and the sector employed 289,000 professionals, according to IT Ukraine Association. The IT sector in Ukraine had stabilized after the 2014 Russian incursion with growth accelerating beginning in 2017 and “supercharging” in 2020 and 2021, says Katie Gove, senior director-analyst in Gartner’s Technology and Service Provider Research division.

In the weeks following the invasion, IT services providers in Ukraine worked quickly to relocate thousands of workers or set them up for remote delivery where necessary. One year later, the industry’s remarkable resilience is clear. As Konstantin Vasiuk, executive director of the IT Ukraine Association wrote in a recent report: “It remains the only export industry in Ukraine that operates to its full capacity in wartime.”

Indeed, by the end of 2022, the Ukraine IT industry had delivered $7.35 billion in computer services exports, an increase of 5.8% over the previous year. “Even during the most negative scenarios, they’ve been able to show some growth,” says Gartner’s Gove. “It’s a pretty substantial statement that they’ve been able to not only scrape by, but also make some gains.”

That continued business expansion was made possible by the efforts of IT service providers with delivery centers in Ukraine to first take care of their people, and then to put them in positions to continue to perform their work — largely software development — whether in another part of Ukraine, another country, or remotely at home. But the growth is also attributable, in large part, to global goodwill for the country as well as an ongoing global shortage of highly skilled technology talent.

Immediate response and recovery

In the weeks leading up to the invasion, IT companies with operations in Ukraine, read the writing on the wall and put their business continuity efforts into effect. “This has been a combination of setting up delivery centers elsewhere in Europe, expanding delivery centers in India and other alternative non-European countries, and, finally, leveraging remote work using Starlink for employees who could not leave Ukraine and were not drafted,” says Peter Bendor-Samuel, CEO of IT and business services research firm Everest Group.

While smaller firms or startups may have had only one delivery center, most application development firms, which make up 80% of Ukraine’s computer services export market, have numerous delivery locations. “The pattern has been to establish multiple redundant delivery teams and locations,” says Gove. “All the big companies have been doing this for ages at scale, but even midsize providers have multiple delivery locations.”

EPAM Systems, for example, which had 14,000 employees working in Ukraine, moved about 10% of its Ukrainian staff out of the country and has relocated hundreds more employees and their families to safer parts of Ukraine. The company, initially founded in Belarus with headquarters in the US, also began accelerating hiring at its other locations in Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America, and India.

“They offered all of employees that wanted it,” says Gartner’s Gove. “EPAM had already been invested in expanding talent pools in Latin America and they supercharged that.” (EPAM Systems also ceased doing business with Russia and moved its Belarus operations to Uzbekistan.)

The COVID-19 pandemic had provided companies with extensive experience enabling remote work, which also helped during the transition period. “It was a jumping off point for the ways we work to continue to be viable,” Gove says.

It was a remarkable pivot amid an unspeakably difficult time for the country. “We saw their resilience very early on,” says Gove. “During the first couple of weeks after the invasion, clearly a lot of SLAs were not able to be met. But within several weeks, those SLAs had gone right back up into the 90s.”

Leaving Kharkiv: One provider’s story

Kharkiv-based Aimprosoft, a software development firm with US and European customers across industries such as ecommerce, healthcare, automotive, and telecom, had been in high growth mode throughout 2021. The need to do more work digitally during the pandemic drove demand for greater business process automation, sending revenues 61% higher. “Businesses were going online en masse, and everyone needed specialists who could implement e-commerce solutions, reduce overhead by automating routine tasks, launch telehealth solutions,” says Aimprosoft CEO Maxim Ivanov. “We had even more work to do.”

Maxim Ivanov, CEO, Aimprosoft 

Ivanov / Aimprosoft

A month before the invasion, Aimprosoft opened a new office in Ivano-Frankivsk in Western Ukraine near the Polish boarder as a business continuity measure. Some employees transferred immediately while others waited. “Everybody hoped to the last that the new office would become our branch office in the context of business expansion,” Ivanov says.

In 2020, the company had developed robust processes for remote work. “It may sound paradoxical, but COVID gave us the advantage. We’d had enough time to get our processes up and running for delivery from anywhere,” says Ivanov. “The pandemic taught us to be flexible and work effectively remotely. The war showed we could make internal moves across Ukraine without losing productivity.”

The company’s cloud-based infrastructure is hosted in Germany, with its infrastructure and customer code stored in one data center and backups of both in another. “An old rule of thumb, ‘to make a copy regularly,’ has proven to be excellent,” Ivanov says. “This distribution is reasonable and helps protect your business from force majeure accidents like war, natural disasters, or fire, which are less predictable.”

Reliable access to power was also a consideration. Aimprosoft set up its office in Western Ukraine with everything necessary for continuous delivery: Starlink internet terminals, power generators, and fuel reserves. “Having autonomous power facilities will make you more resilient,” Ivanov says.

The biggest challenge was explaining to customers outside the country that the company could continue to work at the same level of productivity “when there is a full-scale war in your country, how we could work when bombs are flying, and we are promised conquest in three days,” says Ivanov. But the company’s leaders had confidence, having even signed a contract with a new customer the day of the invasion. “I never stick my head in the sand. Being a leader means being able to be responsible and having a contingency plan,” Ivanov says. “I was lucky because our team is made of people who can be relied upon and have lived up to their expectations. Some employees worked standing in traffic jams while relocating to safer regions of the country.”

The first month was the hardest. “We all had to come to terms with the fact that what we all feared and didn’t want to be had already happened,” Ivanov says. “However, we had a plan B, and we took advantage of it, took a breath, and quickly adapted to the new reality.” The safety of employees and their families came first.  “We didn’t force anyone to work at 100% capacity in the first days,” says Ivanov. “But the demonstrated responsibility illustrated that our team was incredible. No one gave up and ran away. We didn’t fire anyone.”

Within a month, the company was recruiting new hires. And twelve months later, the company’s service levels give little indication of the ongoing turmoil in other parts of the country. “The war changed us,” Ivanov admits. “But what remains unchanged is our responsibility to our relatives and clients.”

Good will and a global talent shortage

In the early days, there was some impact to new business for IT providers in Ukraine. “Clients moved work to other destinations and often other firms,” says Everest Group’s Bendor-Samuel. “However, there has been a strong sentiment amongst the clients to support these firms, and much of this work has now returned.”

The impact of good will for Ukraine — not just from customers but from the broader global community — can’t be understated. “There’s been a lot of stickiness and lots of support for Ukraine,” says Gartner’s Gove. “It’s been pretty remarkable.”

The impact of positive sentiment for Ukraine is reflected in the fact that the IT industry in Belarus and Russia, which has a similar profile to Ukraine, has not fared well.

“Belarus and Ukraine have similar talent pools with both IT service providers and enterprises sourcing there for tech talent for a long time because of their academic tradition and focus on math an engineering,” says Gove. “But Belarus has taken a dip because they’re so connected with Russia.”

The US and UK are by far the largest market for Ukrainian IT services, following by Malta, Israel, Cyprus, Switzerland, and Germany, according to the IT Ukraine Association. “Most [clients] worked to hedge their bets and set up alternative delivery, but if the Ukrainian providers proved they could continue to deliver, they tried to keep the work with them or returned the work or added other work as the new delivery came online,” says Bendor-Samuel.

Aimprosoft has been working with some customers for more than a decade and others for a much shorter time when the Russian invasion took place. Swedish ecommerce consultancy Koalitionen had been working with Aimprosoft for two years. “Our main concerns prior to the conflict was of humanitarian sort: Would the company be able to provide safety to their employees?” says Koalitionen CEO Amir Mofidi. “For us, the uncertainty of not knowing if the staff were safe was the most difficult part. We were relieved when we found out that the people that we work with were safe.”

Aimprosoft felt supported by its customers. “Our clients are amazing,” Ivanov says. Some paid the company’s developers on their days off. Others offered personal bonuses to Aimprosoft employees. Others sent pics of their children baking cookies to raise money for Ukraine. “It touched us to the core,” Ivanov says. “This empathy once again underscores the fact that business is built not only on numbers but also on human relationships.”

Still, performance is critical. “Then and today, customers’ biggest concerns are that the work process may be disrupted because the employee does not get in touch for some reason, data security caused by power supply issues, which impacts whether their business would work tomorrow if a conflict escalated,” says Ivanov, noting that healthcare and finance customers have the highest requirements for availability and continuity. But Aimprosoft has been able to maintain its service delivery and retain all of its more than 100 clients.

“We were surprised that the downtime was only for a couple of weeks and since then they have been working without any interruptions,” says Mofidi. “The staff are working as any of our other partners — if not more.”

The global shortage of experienced, high-quality engineering and IT talent has also enabled Ukrainian firms to continue to grow even in the most difficult circumstances.

Ukraine has a long tradition of tech leadership, even in uncertain times. The first computer in continental Europe was built in Kyiv in 1951 during the years of post–World War II reconstruction and closed borders. It was developed in a building that had been restored following significant damage during the city’s liberation in 1943.

The country remains a hotbed of talent in part due to a strong academic tradition that nurtures skills in engineering and software development to the tune of more than 31,000 graduates entering the IT labor market annually. (That total dropped to 27,000 last year as some students were forced to suspend their studies during the full-scale invasion.) Prior to 2022, the Russia-Belarus-Ukraine region accounted for about 5% of the global talent pool, according to Gartner.

The availability of skilled engineers and other professionals in Ukraine led a number of global technology firms to set up software development and R&D centers there, including SAP, Snap, Fiverr,, Amazon’s Ring, and Nvidia. Developer platform and services company GitLab started in Ukraine before moving its headquarters to San Francisco.

“Companies want and need this talent,” says Gartner’s Gove. “Businesses lives and dies based on IT. Both providers and private enterprises have been willing to have an increased risk profile because the tradeoffs have been acceptable. It may not be as safe and straightforward as getting talent from Boston, but it’s highly desirable.”

Looking forward

Operating in Ukraine remains challenging, but providers have been able to keep a significant core of Ukrainian talent safe and working while also standing up new delivery options. “Clients continue to seem pleased with the work, and while some are careful of creating too much concentration in Ukraine, they seem comfortable with the new arrangements and willing to continue to support these firms by giving them work,” says Everest Group’s Bendor-Samuel. “It looks to me like the worst is over and the Ukrainian engineering and IT industry is surviving.”

Aimprosoft CEO Ivanov notes that new customers may be less willing to hire specialists in Ukraine than they were a year ago. That’s diminished the country’s previous growth trajectory.

“It’s hard to see Ukraine returning to the same role it played before the war anytime soon. That said, if the war ends soon, it is likely that it will still be a viable destination for the services industry, and over time it may reclaim some of its standing,” says Bendor-Samuel. “However, it has clearly lost momentum, and the establishment of other eastern European centers due to the movement of work will affect the overall picture.”

The global shortage of engineering and IT talent works in Ukraine’s favor. “Given the need for these scarce resources, if Ukraine can rebuild its university programs it will find itself with an attractive export market for services and reestablish itself as a premiere country for delivery centers both with the outsourcing community as well as for global in-house centers,” says Bendor-Samuel.

Gartner forecasts no end in sight for the global talent crunch. “The willingness for companies to take on more risk [to access that talent] isn’t going away,” Gove says. Neither is the good will for Ukraine in the marketplace. “That’s substantial,” Gove says. “It will sustain them and allow them to grow.”

Still, Ivanov prefers to focus on winning the war and beginning reconstruction quickly. Aimprosoft’s employees, forcibly resettled to other parts of the country or abroad, are eager to go home — a sign, Ivanov says, that the IT sector has strong roots. Technology workers donate an average of $270 a month toward the Ukrainian cause, says Ivanov.

“Every day I see how hard and selflessly our employees work, volunteer, and donate. If these people have not abandoned the country now, they are unlikely to do so after the victory.” In addition, Ivanov says, the industry is attracting even more workers with its flexible, remote work model.

“We have been through some of the toughest times. Last year showed that the Ukrainian tech sector is incredibly resilient,” Ivanov says. “The whole world saw that Ukrainians are a nation that adapts quickly to difficult circumstances, and we are an example of that, and so is our business. Modern Ukrainian IT people are successors of their heritage: being hard workers with passion in their hearts.”

For more on how Ukrainian IT professionals and organizations are navigating through conflict, see “Cybersecurity in wartime: how Ukraine’s infosec community is coping.”

Outsourcing, Technology Industry

Digital transformation and the shift to hybrid working are unlocking new revenue opportunities for businesses, driving operational efficiencies, and improving employee experiences. But for IT teams, the two trends are also bringing a range of challenges.

First, IT teams must manage ever more decentralised networks that extend to anywhere an employee can connect to corporate systems with a device. Ensuring performance, uptime, and security has never been more of a challenge.

Second, greater digitalisation brings with it exponentially more data. It’s thought that in 2021 almost 10 exabytes of new data was generated (with one exabyte equivalent to approximately 25 billion DVDs). By 2025, the volume of data created, captured, copied, and consumed worldwide is forecast to increase to more than 180 zettabytes from a 2020 base of 64.2 zettabytes.

To store and manage huge volumes of data effectively, organisations need to be able to monitor infrastructure availability and performance around the clock. Without tools to manage rapid data growth or the ability to scale their internal teams, businesses may find they’re unable to realise the full benefits of the digital systems.

According to Ewa Wojcik, Business Solutions Manager, at Comarch ICT, a systems integrator, this all means that a more holistic approach is IT monitoring is needed: “Regardless of business size, the days of relying on a help desk to troubleshoot technology issues is long past,” Wojcik says. “In a digital-first, distributed working environment, businesses need to pivot to always-on, high-level monitoring services provided by a Network Operations Centre

For Wojcik, businesses should outsource their NOCs rather than build them in-house. “NOCs are a perfect use case for outsourcing,” she says. “They provide on-tap access to leading-edge systems at scale and the best technical expertise available, and all at a far lower cost than building and maintaining a NOC in-house.”

Businesses’ specific monitoring requirements will vary according to the organisation’s size and industry. According to Comarch these differences can be accommodated through one of four levels of data monitoring:

“Data”: using automated tools to detect when a server goes offline and alert the IT team to manually investigate. This is the least expensive option and perfect for small businesses.“Information”: monitoring the availability, performance, and capacity of infrastructure components, enabling faster resolution. Comarch identifies this as the most cost-effective level.“Knowledge”: using business process monitoring to analyse historic data and enable scripts for automated, predefined repair activities. This is aimed at organisations that run a wide range of complex business processes.“Wisdom”: using the latest in artificial intelligence and machine learning to predict future resource consumption and potential incidents and initiate preventive scenarios. This level is intended for organisations where a minor failure can affect human life or have very serious business consequences.

As with any technology or service, IT monitoring depends on the scale, budget, location, and the nature of a company’s operations. However, all organisations have one thing in common: they can benefit from working with partners like Comarch that can tailor services to their needs and deliver the capabilities required to maintain resilience and performance in an increasingly digital world.

To read more about the four levels of IT infrastructure monitoring, download Comarch’s new white paper here.

Artificial Intelligence, Communications Security, Network Security, Security Monitoring Software

It has been almost 25 years since McKinsey & Co. introduced the term “talent war” to the world. For almost a quarter of a century CIOs have been locked in a Sisyphean battle to attract and retain the IT talent necessary to create competitive advantage.

Every year, “talent” is one of the top challenges facing IT organizations. Every year, lack of critical IT skills is blamed for failure to deliver the full promise of IT investments. Is there something CIOs can do to transcend this endless cycle of lament?

Talent matters — but is ‘war’ the right metaphor?

In his 2001 best-seller, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t, author Jim Collins reminds us that “Great vision without great people is irrelevant.” In The Talent Delusion: Why Data, Not Intuition, Is the Key to Unlocking Human Potential, from 2017, Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic explains that “All organizations have problems and they nearly always concern people.” Having the right people, with the right skills, working on the right tasks is the key to future success.

A recent report from Korn Ferry Institute predicts that by 2030 the tech industry labor-skill shortage will reach 4.3 million (85 million worker short fall for all skills), costing the global economy $8.5 trillion in unrealized annual revenues. 

Yet, despite these projections, in today’s globalized and digitized environment, where talent can be sourced from almost anywhere, shouldn’t IT leaders be able to de-escalate the “War for Talent”?

I am not certain “war” is the appropriate metaphor for dealing with the massively complex human capital predicament CIOs are working through. While this point may seem pedantic on its surface, given that many IT leaders carry the metaphor through to their hiring and retention strategies, it is anything but.

War, for example, implies there are “enemies.” Who are the enemies in this “war”? Other companies? Demographic? Employees? A lack of financial resources? The traditional answer would be your hiring competitors, which, with every company becoming in some sense a technology company, is just about every business out there. How do you construct a campaign against that?

Unfortunately, the “war” metaphor, and its tendency toward dualities, is pervasive in hiring strategies and approaches. The we/they, manager/staff, company/employee dualism, for example, is dysfunctional. The concept of thinking of employees as “enemies” needing to be captured via pay packages and “employee experience” to labor toward some seemingly arbitrarily corporate financial objective is ludicrous and unsustainable. Partnership — finding a mutually agreeable path forward is a better way of thinking about the future of work.

Re-thinking work management and motivation

Right now, many employees and employers are not on the same page regarding productivity and performance measurement, pay, and commuting and remote work issues.

In a recent survey of more than 20,000 people, Microsoft found that 87% of employees say they are productive at work, while only 12% of leaders have confidence that their workers are being productive.

Moreover, the anecdotal evidence is overwhelming. Every executive I have spoken with has a friend who knows a colleague employed in technology enjoying a six-figure-plus salary while they essentially ski in Idaho, snorkel in Bali, or sip margaritas on the Yucatán Peninsula.

In a world of increasing pay transparency, employee outcome transparency — determining every employee’s contribution — is required as well. But this doesn’t mean going as far as one overzealous manager who required two meetings every day: one at the start of the day to decide what everyone should do and one at the end to determine what was actually accomplished. And we are seeing the downside of top-down exhortations to “work hard or else” unfold at Twitter.

Instead, CIOs need to implement a performance management system that prevents slackers from abusing the system while at the same time stimulating the better angels of an employee’s creativity and work ethic. 

This means creating a culture where people want to work and establishing systems for work that people want to do.

Building a workplace that works

Many years ago, some IT organizations embraced the mantra, “We suck less,” by which they meant: We may not be the very best in the world, but we certainly aren’t the worst.

The good news for IT hiring managers is that a lot of places that employed lots of talented IT professionals are starting to “suck more.” Tech giants in Silicon Valley are exfoliating staff at rates never seen before. More than 100,000 tech workers have been returned via layoffs to the talent pool.

I suggest CIOs commit themselves to making IT a great place to work for all employees paying particular attention to not just to being a good place for women to work but being the best place for them to work. This would include investments in childcare, for example, as well as better maternity leave policies and support for perimenopause and menopause counseling and support services, given that more than 1 million American women enter menopause each year, and one in ten women employed during menopause leave their job due to symptoms.

This also means improving employee experience by implementing hassle-free workplace technology, which will be a great way to attract and retain quality IT staff. According to the Virgin Media O2 Business and Censuswide Battle for Talent survey, 72% of workers are frustrated at least once a week by the poor quality or lack of business technology available to them, and 48% say that poor-quality business technology makes them more likely to resign from their jobs within the next six months.

A new metaphor for talent acquisition

Creating a workplace culture where candidates want to work and employees want to stay will assuredly give you an advantage in the talent market, but so too will embracing a new central metaphor for your talent acquisition strategy.

Higher-ed inadequacies and demographic realities — a million fewer college students enrolled in 2021 than in 2019 — have created a human capital pipeline unable to deliver a reliable stream of fit-for-purpose technology professionals.  

Rather than “battle-plan” how to “win” given this faltering human capital pipeline, the only rational alternative is to create your own talent supply chain. Partnering with organizations such as Year Up and NPower, working with universities, and establishing apprenticeships are just a few of the ways to take your IT organization out of the “battle theater” and into a better place — one less ruled by the mentality of war and instead guided by supply chain imperatives: integration and orchestration.


By Patrick McFadin, DataStax

When the gap between enterprise software development and IT operations was bridged 15 or so years ago, building enterprise apps underwent a radical change. DevOps blew away manual and slow processes, and adopted the idea of infrastructure as code. This was a change that upped the ability to scale quickly and deliver reliable applications and services into production.

Building services internally has been the status quo for a long time, but in a cloud-native world, the lines behind cloud and on-prem have blurred. Third-party, cloud-based services, built on powerful open source software, are making it easier for developers to move faster. Their mandate is to focus on building with innovation and speed to compete in hyper-fast markets. For all application stakeholders—from the CIO to development teams—the path to simplicity, speed, and risk reduction often involves cloud-based services that make data scalable and available instantly.

These points of view aren’t far apart, and they exist at many established organizations that we work with. Yet they can be at odds with one another. In fact, we’ve often seen them work in ways that are counterproductive, to the extent that they slow down application development.

There might be compelling reasons for taking everything in-house but the end users are voting with execution. Here, we’ll look at the point of view of each group, and try to understand each one’s motivations. It’s not a zero-sum game and the real answer might be the right combination of the two.

Building services

Infrastructure engineers build the machine. They are the ones who stay up late, tend to the ailing infrastructure, and keep the lights on in the company. Adam Jacob (the co-founder and former CTO of Chef Software) famously said, “It’s the job of ops people to keep the shit-tastic code of developers out of your beautiful production infrastructure.” If you want to bring your project or product into the sacred grounds of what they’ve built, it has to be worthy. Infrastructure engineers will evaluate, test, and bestow their blessing only after they believe it themselves.

Tenets of the infrastructure engineer include the following:

Every deployment is different and requires qualified infrastructure engineers to ensure success.Applications are built on requirements, and infrastructure engineers deliver the right product to fit the criteria.The most cost-effective way to use the cloud is to do it ourselves.

What infrastructure engineers care about

Documentation and training

Having a clear understanding of every aspect of infrastructure is key to making it work well, so thorough and clear documentation is a must. It also has to be up to date; as new versions of products are released, documentation should bring everyone up to speed on what’s changed.

Version numbers

Products need to be tested and validated before going into production, so infrastructure teams track which versions are blessed for production; updates must be tested too. A critical part of testing is security, and we are generally behind the latest cutting edge, so we have the most stability and security.


Performance is critical, too. Our teams have to understand how the system works in various environments to plan adequate capacity. Systems with highly variable performance characteristics – or those that don’t meet the minimum – will never get deployed. New products must prove themselves in a trial by combat before even being considered.

Using services

Installing and running infrastructure is friction when building applications. Nothing is more important than the speed of putting an application into production. Operational teams love the nuances of how things work and take pride in running a well-oiled machine, but developers don’t have months to wait for that to happen. Winning against competitors means renting what’s needed, when it’s needed. Give us an API and a key, and let us run.   .

When it comes to infrastructure, developer tenets include:

Infrastructure has to conform to the app and not the other way aroundDon’t invent new infrastructure—just combine what’s availableConsume compute, network and storage like any other utility

Things service consumers care about

Does it fit what I need, and can I verify that quickly?

The app is the center of the developer’s universe, and what it needs is the requirement. If the service being considered meets the criteria, this needs to be verified quickly. If a lot of time is spent bending and twisting an app to make a service work, developers will just look for a different service that works better.


Developers want the lowest cost for what they get. Nothing so complicated that a spreadsheet is required. With services, developers don’t necessarily believe in “you get what you pay for,” with more expensive being better. Instead, they expect the cost to decrease over time from a service provider finding efficiencies. 


Developers expect a service to always work, and when it doesn’t, they get annoyed (like when the electricity goes out). Even if there is an SLA, most probably won’t read it—and will expect 100% uptime. When building my app, I assume there will be no downtime.

In the end, the app matters most

From working with a lot of organizations for whom applications are mission-critical, we’ve often seen that these two groups don’t work particularly well together—at times, their respective approaches can even be counterproductive. This friction can slow application production significantly, and even hamper an organization’s journey to the cloud.

This friction can manifest itself in several ways. For instance, a reliance on home-grown infrastructure can limit the ways that developers access the data required to build applications. This can limit innovation and introduce complexity to the development process.

And sometimes balancing cloud services with purpose-built solutions can actually create complexities and increase costs by watering down expected savings from moving to the cloud.

Application development and delivery is cost sensitive, but it requires speed and efficiency. Anything that gets in the way can lead to a dulled competitive edge, and even lost revenue.

Yet we also know of organizations that have intelligently combined the efforts of infrastructure engineers, who run your mission-critical apps today, and those who use services to build them. When the perspective and skills of each group is put to good use, flexibility, cost-efficiency, and speed can result.

Many successful organizations today are implementing a hybrid of the two (for now): some bespoke infrastructure mixed with services rented from a provider. Several organizations are leveraging Kubernetes in this quest for the grand unified theory of infrastructure. When describing a deployment model, there are blocks that create pods and service endpoints, with  other blocks that describe endpoints on a pay-per-use method. If you are using any cloud with Kubernetes, think storage and network services.

There are other important elements to an organization’s universe of services — whether they’re built or bought. Standard APIs are the de facto method of serving data to applications — and reduce time to market by simplifying development. SLAs — customer and internal alike — also clearly delineate scale and other performance expectations — so developers don’t have to.

Finally, I should point out that this is an immediate challenge in the world of open source data where I live. I work with Apache Cassandra®—software you can download and deploy in your own datacenter for free; free as in beer and free as in freedom. I also work on the K8ssandra project, which helps builders provide Cassandra as a service for their customers using Kubernetes. And DataStax, the company I work for, offers Astra DB built on Cassandra, which is a simple service for developers with no operations needed. I understand the various points of view—and I’m glad there’s a choice.

Learn more about DataStax here.

About Patrick McFadin:


Patrick is the co-author of the O’Reilly book “Managing Cloud Native Data on Kubernetes.” He works at DataStax in developer relations and as a contributor to the Apache Cassandra project. Previously he has worked as an engineering and architecture lead for various internet companies.

IT Leadership

The skills that make some IT pros invaluable can be hard to put your finger on, but tech leaders say the high-performers on their teams share similar traits that are helpful to identify when recruiting — and to keep teams running smoothly.

These indispensable technologists are always solving problems, and they consistently bring enthusiasm to their work, all while staying humble and continuing to keep the tools in their kit sharp. 

Regardless of how they came up through the ranks, they’re always focused on the end result: meeting a user’s needs whether it’s a colleague or an external customer. 

If you’re looking to join their ranks — or looking for signs of a hire you can rely on — here’s where to start. 


Even inspired managers can only get so far with a tech pro who’s phoning it in, says Kelly Fleming, CIO at Cirrus Nexus.

“When I’m hiring, I often encounter several viable candidates with the skills to get the job done, but I only hire the ones who really care about what they’re working on,” Fleming says. “Only IT pros who are truly engaged and passionate about their work continue to exhibit the initiative required to stand out.”

Logan Spears, chief technology officer at Plainsight AI, says you can tell during interviews whether a candidate will bring energy to the job.

“If individuals seem like they could take or leave the opportunity, they’re going to need more direct, involved management just to move the needle,” Spears says. “You need something that’s attracting you to the keyboard, not scaring or guilting you into logging on. You need to be drawn by your passion for the work.”

“Without passion, an IT pro is just another cog in the machine,” says Jim Durham, CIO at Solar Panels Network US. “But with it, they have the potential to be truly indispensable.”

Starts with the end (user) in mind

Shadi Rostami, senior executive vice president of engineering at Amplitude, says it’s critical to have IT pros on staff who understand the problems of the person who’ll eventually be using the technology rather than simply focus on designing an elegant product.

“They make hundreds of microdecisions daily, and each one is more likely to be correct if they know the outcome they are trying to achieve,” Rostami says. “Top tech talent that can internalize the context of the problem can easily create 10 times the impact” of other technologists. 

Sean Heritage, director of business operations at Horizon3, especially values tech pros who seek to proactively serve others.

“It’s not about responding to tickets, it’s about solving problems, delivering unique value, and realizing that no task is too big or too small.” 

Especially with developers, the necessary technology is far easier to pick up than the skills around understanding customer needs, says Conor Winders, executive vice president of product and engineering at Administrate.

“Obsessing about the user will unlock so many more possibilities in how we deliver and measure our work,” Winders says. “And it shouldn’t stop there. Great software doesn’t stop when code is shipped, and great engineers understand that this is often just the beginning.”


Tech pros who are driven to learn and have the energy to keep it going stand out to CIO Gill Haus. And many companies today, he says, will work with promising tech talent to fill skills gaps.

“You don’t necessarily need to have a four-year computer science degree,” Haus says. “There’s been a noticeable shift toward leveraging the latest technologies, such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, and cloud computing, to create tools that best address customer demand. Candidates who come in with experience and skills in this area are a plus, but we also offer learning opportunities for those who do not.”

Amplitude’s Rostami also values tech talent from varying backgrounds, whose drive and varied experience can provide an edge for the business.

“Many members of our team come from competition backgrounds, which we intentionally seek out because it is not about building the perfect feature, it’s about out-building everyone else,” Rostami says.

Mahesh Ramichetty, vice president of special projects at OvalEdge, looks for people who are inquisitive and unafraid to ask for assistance. “You have to be comfortable saying, ‘I don’t know; please show me.’ This is critical, as it illustrates a willingness to ensure the job is done right, as well as interest in learning something new,” Ramichetty says.

Great collaborator

Successful tech pros know how to blend technical skills with the ability to communicate, collaborate, and lead, says Donna Ketler, Wiley’s senior vice president of global software engineering.

“Effective communication and collaboration are critical,” Ketler says. “Technology doesn’t exist in a vacuum — it’s a team effort — and technology touches every single part of the business. You need to know how to manage stakeholders — oftentimes multiple ones with competing agendas. You also need to be able to explain your solution, discuss dependencies with other teams, and present complex problems in a nontechnical way.”

Jim Flanagan, CIO at Hanscom Federal Credit Union, says empathy is the skill he needs most from tech colleagues, because it leads to better problem solving.

“Of course we want the resume to reflect proper technical aptitude, but I’m looking for the person to be empathetic,” Flanagan says. “The individuals IT supports are often not as technical as us, and being empathetic removes any embarrassment or defensiveness, which lends to better dialogue and faster resolution of the issue. Empathetic tech pros create a culture of comfort where people feel supported to ask for the help they need in order to accomplish great things.”

The IT pros who stand out to Avnet CIO Max Chan, communicate effectively with the rest of the business to enact positive change.

“They need the ability to tell a good story,” Chen says. “As a good IT professional, you would want to be able to clearly articulate why the technology is important and how it can help the business achieve its objectives, and more often than not, you will need to explain — or even negotiate — with the business why this is better than the old way of doing business. IT professionals need to clearly understand and articulate what business problems they are solving for, or what business value they are bringing to the table.”

Good listener

In addition to more frequently named soft skills, Erik Gaston, vice president of global executive engagement for global sales at Tanium, prizes tech colleagues who are intelligent yet humble enough to hear others.

“IT people need to listen and understand first, then focus only on what needs to be addressed and not overcomplicate the situation,” Gaston says. “People who listen first generally find simple ways to resolve issues in a way that is easily understood. The attitude that I used to see in many heavily opinionated tech engineers that ‘our customers just don’t understand that this is the best tech ever,’ is something that no longer holds up. Customers are too tech savvy nowadays and they know what business features they like and dislike and what the end user experience should be.”


Inclusive team members are more likely to work well with others across the organization and break down silos, says Mike Anderson, chief digital and information officer at Netskope.

“I want someone who values the input of others,” Anderson says. “Like in sports, the best players make the people around them better. A tech staff member makes themselves standout by highlighting and recognizing the contribution of others, being available to help others meet their goals, challenging others to think differently, and making sure their actions match their words.”


Cirrus Nexus CIO Fleming says great IT pros differentiate themselves by following up after the work is completed. 

“If the work is development-related, good IT pros ensure their work continues to function well down the road while helping colleagues understand it and finding new ways to improve it,” Fleming says. “If the work is support-related, it’s important to follow up with the affected parties even after their issues are resolved, not just to limit recurrences but to learn of and help with issues the affected parties may have missed. When receiving or providing feedback, good IT pros ensure that feedback was heard.”


Fleming says a good technologist will solve a problem — then automate it so it doesn’t need to be resolved again manually later. 

“Most assignments, either support or development-focused, can be done in one of two ways: the way that just solves the problem — or the way that addresses the cause, preventing similar problems from emerging in the future,” Fleming says. “A good IT pro will never need to do the same work more than once. They know that the limited extra time spent automating today will save far more time in the future.”


IT pros who can grasp fast-moving technology needs amid shifting priorities are prized finds for Adam Glaser, senior vice president of engineering at Appian.

“The best technical talent is comfortable innovating in new areas, experimenting with new approaches, and helping teams achieve new levels of impact,” Glaser says. “It’s no longer an IQ test, brainteasers, or textbook knowledge that helps sort the good from the great. The essence of hiring talent is about assessing the candidate’s experiences, and how they have shaped them and prepared them for future challenges and team culture.”

Takes ownership

IT pros who take an entrepreneurial approach to the projects they’re working on are invaluable to Nathan Sutter, vice president of engineering at CoderPad.  

“One of the biggest challenges as a technical leader in a growing organization is finding people you rely on to be scale multipliers on the team,” Sutter says. “People with a high degree of ownership can be trusted with most anything you give them as long as the objectives are clear, and lend themselves well to growing into bigger roles, which is absolutely required as a team and company scales.”


The best tech employees can admit mistakes and learn from them, says Alexander De Ridder, INK co-founder and CTO.

“A manager won’t be upset with an IT employee who is blocked from solving an issue,” De Ridder says. “A manager will, however, be frustrated with an employee who persists in pursuing a non-successful solution and resists admitting they need help. A strong team and inspiring leader will unblock an employee and work together as a team to find a solution to a particularly perplexing problem. The invaluable team player knows when to ask for help and collaborate rather than going it alone.”

Self-awareness and the willingness to learn new things are a powerful combination, he says. 

“The perfect IT employee doesn’t exist — the one who knows all. But the one who realizes what key information they need to learn to improve and is willing to do so, that is a solid IT employee any company would love to have on their team,” De Ridder says.

Careers, Hiring

Parting may be a sweet sorrow, but it can be inevitable when a CIO detects a tell-tale sign that a quick and clean employment departure represents the best course of action.

Most CIOs at one time or another have found themselves working at an enterprise that has seriously altered course, lost its focus, neglected competitiveness, or changed in some other significantly detrimental way. When that happens, it’s probably time to wave goodbye.

How can a CIO know for sure when it’s time to take their career elsewhere? Consider the following seven warning signs.

1. Fear and loathing

You wake up bright and early. The sun is shining, birds are singing, and an intense pang of dread grips your stomach. The mere thought of heading into the office makes your skin crawl. There are many reasons why a CIO might feel this way.

“It may have started with some minor irritation at a business decision or disagreements with enterprise leaders, teams, silos, or internal business matters,” says Tracy-Lynn Reid, CIO research practice lead at Info-Tech Research Group. More ominously, the enterprise may have suddenly started engaging in shady business practices or entered into a market that you find personally repulsive.

“The key sign that the CIO has reached a point where they should seriously examine the idea of moving on is that feeling of dread,” Reid says. It’s time to wake up.

2. Deep, unreasonable budget cuts

Bad news. The IT budget has just been slashed by colleagues who have no idea how their decision will damage essential services. Their misguided action will impede your ability to execute the roadmap you carefully planned to keep the enterprise competitive in an increasingly challenging business enviornent. Even worse, when the chickens come home to roost, you-know-who will probably get the blame.

Technology budgets have become a larger portion of the average organization’s spend and have, therefore, become an easy target for a new CEO or CFO looking to increase short-term profitability, says Keith Sims, a recruiter at executive search firm Sanford Rose Associates.

Every CIO needs to develop their current IT strategy and roadmap in close consultation with business colleagues. In the event a negative budget change is proposed, the CIO should be asking tough questions and paying close attention to the replies. If the responses are unacceptable, it’s time to move on.

3. Management resistance

Many CIOs decide to toss in the towel after spending months, perhaps even years, battling with C-level colleagues. New initiatives and strategies are proposed and consistently rejected. Colleagues either fail to offer alternative approaches or, worse yet, propose methods that are technologically or financially impossible. As the battle continues, management may begin listening to outside consultants and advisors, effectively knocking the CIO out of the loop.

Over time, the enterprise begins falling behind competitors that are taking advantage of new technologies and methodologies. Eventually, the beleaguered CIO realizes that the situation will never improve, tosses in the towel, and begins looking for a more amenable employer.

4. Management change

Whenever an enterprise is acquired by another organization, it’s virtually certain that new leadership will scrutinize the existing IT roadmap. It will take a great deal of convincing to assure the new owner that the current roadmap will meet their business strategy, says Steven Swan, CEO of Swan Associates, a Sanford Rose Associates-affiliated recruitment firm. “The risk is that the business will switch directions, causing your roadmap to no longer be relevant.”

Even if the enterprise is acquired by an organization whose CIO is more or less aligned with your roadmap, the newly combined C-suite may not pay much attention to what you say. “Not being able to be effective, at best, and at worst being considered redundant, is not a place you want to be,” Swan warns. All things considered, it’s probably a good time to begin look for a new employer.

5. Diminished innovation

For a CIO who joined an enterprise believing that the organization was committed to innovation, it’s disappointing to watch management become increasingly complacent.

“They’ve stopped innovating; they’ve become stagnant, and the CIO feels like they’re no longer making a difference in the growth of their organization,” says Kimberley Tyler-Smith, a former McKinsey & Co. analyst, currently strategist at career tech service company Resume Worded. “This can lead to frustration and unhappiness, making it difficult for the IT professional to stay motivated and engaged in their work.”

6. Sheer boredom

Sometimes, a CIO becomes an innocent victim of success. This is especially true for a leader who was hired with the mandate to revitalize a struggling IT organization. Now, after that goal has been achieved, there’s not much left to do but to maintain operational efficiency. The thrill is gone.

While many CIOs are perfectly content to lead a well-oiled organization, some IT leaders thrive on conquering challenges. If you’re one of these intrepid individuals, it’s time to begin looking for fresh success opportunities.

7. Limited growth potential

Top CIOs realize that they need to keep pace with multiple technology, security, business, and management trends. “They also have to master the art of the sale and delivering financial value propositions, making board room presentations, and avoiding public or PR pitfalls,” Sims says. Falling behind the curve simply isn’t an option.

CIO’s should be given the opportunity to expand their skills with professional training related to public speaking, leadership, communication, and sales, Sims says. “If your enterprise isn’t investing in executive-level professional training, it’s time to invest in yourself and start considering a move to a company that invests in you,” he advises.

Making the right move

CIOs should ensure they’re making the right move by considering all options carefully before accepting any job offer, Tyler-Smith suggests. “They should always consider whether or not the new opportunity will provide them with what they’re looking for — more opportunities for growth, challenges, responsibilities to learn from, and an environment where they feel valued as an employee and leader.”

Once a CIO decides that it’s time to go, it really is time to go. “Unless something drastically changes, the longer you stay in an environment that’s causing the sense of dread, the worse it will be for yourself, others around you, and the organization,” Reid says.

Typically, once a CIO knows that it’s time to exit, the number of reasons for staying has diminished to zero. “At that point, there’s a greater risk of saying or doing something inappropriate that could have a lasting negative impact on your corporate and professional reputation/brand that may follow you after your inevitable departure,” she explains.

Careers, CIO, IT Leadership

David Vidoni wants to be sure that workers throughout his company know “how IT can transform the business.”

Vidoni, vice president of IT at tech company Pegasystems, gets the word out using various channels, from reports on metrics to easily accessible dashboards.

He also launched a quarterly newsletter that — in addition to sharing tech tips, information about available technology tools, and new initiatives — showcases how IT is improving company operations.

“It’s about making sure there’s universal awareness of the work we’re doing, how IT impacts individual employees and departments, and how IT helps us operate better as a company,” Vidoni says.

“It’s another level of engagement, to put IT stories into context and make them available for all employees in terms that are meaningful to them,” he adds. “We want this newsletter to bring more visibility to what we’re doing, how IT helps the business and how IT aligns to our [corporate] strategy. It helps raise awareness on the value we’re delivering to them.”

Vidoni’s actions get at a longstanding challenge for CIOs: How to effectively demonstrate the value of IT.

And it’s a pervasive issue. Research firm Gartner found 63% of surveyed CIOs struggle to communicate IT’s value; 14% of them said they’ve rarely succeeded in the task.

Similarly, Info-Tech Research Group’s CEO-CIO Alignment Diagnostic survey found that 80% of CIOs and CEOs experience frustration with IT’s failure to deliver value, even as C-suite leaders rank delivering benefits as the most important goal for IT.

Vidoni says a newsletter helps him escape being part of such statistics, noting that while that approach is working for him, other strategies can prove to be just as effective for CIOs.

Indeed, researchers, CIO advisors, and experienced IT executives say CIOs need a multipronged strategy to demonstrate the business value of IT and show how much IT positively impacts business outcomes.

“CIOs are finding out what value actually means, they’re tracking it consistently and they’re directly linking back to improvements, to the various initiatives and tasks, and they’re saying, ‘Here are the numbers to prove it,’” says Info-Tech Research Group principal research director Ross Armstrong.

Here are some steps IT leaders can take to ensure IT gets the business cred it deserves.

First, ensure business-IT alignment

Multiple experts say CIOs who want to more effectively communicate how IT brings value to the business must first actually deliver that value.

“It’s much more powerful to deliver value, not talk about it,” says Andy Sealock, a senior partner at consulting firm West Monroe.

That, though, remains a challenge for many. Info-Tech Research Group, for example, has found that two-thirds of CIOs are misaligned with their CEOs when it comes to the target role for IT.

“The role of an IT leader is not to provide technology but to enable the delivery of business value and benefits through technology,” Armstrong says. “So the challenge is for the CIO to understand what the business actually needs when it says, ‘You need to deliver value.’”

CIOs have been getting that message for a while now, Armstrong says, but many have yet to live it. He points to Info-Tech data that shows only 25% of business leaders in struggling IT organizations believe IT has an effective understanding of business goals, whereas 72% of leaders in expanding and transforming organizations believe IT understands goals effectively.

Larry Wolff, who as founder and CEO of the consulting firm Wolff Strategy Partners has long focused on what he terms “the IT value journey,” says CIOs who want to leap into that latter category of transformative IT departments must do so by first building credibility among their business-unit colleagues and earning their trust and respect.

That means delivering the fundamentals flawlessly, identifying opportunities to enhance business operations, and developing programs that transform them.

“If you’re all in [the] maintaining [category], then you’re not delivering value. So boost that by enhancing IT services — for example, by delivering better services at a lower cost or getting to software and infrastructure upgrades. And then partner with business leaders to build transformational projects that will put dollars on the top or bottom line,” Wolff says. “IT will always be doing some maintenance and enhancement but also hopefully doing some level of transformation. So what you’re talking about here is a shift in the balance, where you’re able to continually do more transformation that has a positive ROI.”

Deliver business outcomes, not IT projects

Bobby Cameron, vice president and principal analyst at research firm Forrester, says the majority of organizations still talk about funding IT projects. He advises funding specific business outcomes instead.

That, however, requires CIOs and their IT teams “to plan, manage, and report in business terms,” Cameron explains. And it requires business function leaders to become and remain engaged with the initiative, too.

Cameron says this approach means executives — including the CIO — must identify and articulate how exactly the technology supports a business objective. That in turn helps everyone involved understand the raison d’être for the technology, and it allows everyone to identify whether and by how much the endeavor succeeded.

He cites the case of a CIO at a b-to-b property casualty company who unsuccessfully lobbied for money to upgrade her tech stack to increase resiliency and speed. The CEO denied the request because he felt the legacy technology still worked. But the CIO got the CEO’s approval and executive suite backing when she shifted the project’s focus, saying it was designed to support sales and marketing objectives that could demonstratively improve revenue and profitability.

Thomas Phelps, CIO and senior vice president of corporate strategy at software maker Laserfiche, has a similar take.

“Where CIOs may struggle is communicating how a new digital initiative creates business value in a way that resonates with the C-suite and board,” he says. “Similar to a Shark Tank pitch, put yourself in an investors’ shoes and speak in the language that the C-suite will respond to. Be ready to explain in a few minutes — and with the right set of visuals and compelling storytelling — how a digital initiative could increase revenue, reduce costs, mitigate risks or otherwise lead to a desired business outcome,” he says, noting that even something technical like a containerization initiative, which typically doesn’t garner interest in the C-suite, could gain traction when it’s positioned as key to a specific business outcome such as cost reduction.

Identify IT metrics that demonstrate business success

IT has conventionally used metrics that measure how well technology performs but do little to show how much it supports business outcomes, so Cameron and others advise CIOs to find more business-oriented ways to quantify how technology delivers.

Cameron says he believes objectives and key results (OKRs) are effective for demonstrating how technology delivers business outcomes.

Benjamin Rehberg, a managing director with Boston Consulting Group and leader of its Technology Advantage practice in North America, also endorses the use of OKRs.

Rehberg explains that OKRs describe what CIOs are trying to do and enable them to measure whether IT achieved its goals, by how much, and the impact of those achievements. For example, one objective could be to reduce the time required to run a transaction by a certain percentage, with the OKRs showing how close IT came to hitting or exceeding the target and what its performance is worth.

Mark Taylor, CEO of the Society for Information Management (SIM), a professional association for CIOs and IT leaders, says return on investment (ROI) and other financial measures of a technology initiative’s success — such as how much it boosts revenue, increases profitability, or decreases costs — are just the start.

He says CIOs can and should now quantify how technology initiatives impact other business functions — for example, how much it speeds up closing a deal and how much additional “stickiness” it creates in customer relationships. CIOs can even use business-outcome metrics such as days sales outstanding (DSO) to show the value of back-end technology like an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, Taylor says.

“Those are all measurements that technology can impact, and it’s incumbent on the tech leader to know them,” Taylor says, noting that systems today actually enable CIOs and business-unit heads to collect the data for a much more expansive list of metrics. “You have to demonstrate the value of IT in a way that’s measurable, and the technology will help you measure some of the things we’re talking about.”

Juan Perez, CIO at Salesforce, also believes it’s important to identify and use metrics that quantify IT’s successful impact on business objectives.

“Justifications for IT investments should be closely aligned with business objectives, and IT strategies should line up with business strategies in order to maximize the return on such investments,” he says. “For CIOs, it’s important that both IT and business professionals agree on the metrics that define a successful investment and work together to jointly act and monitor for results.”

He points, as an example, to business interest in using automation to reduce low-value manual tasks so that workers can spend more time on customer-focused activities that drive growth and revenue. So CIOs here can quantify how many hours of work automation saves and the value of that.

Share the story of IT’s impact

Using metrics to quantify IT’s value is just half the equation, experts say. The other half is using them to tell IT’s story — another area that has traditionally been a struggle for tech leaders.

“The value of tech investments hasn’t been communicated properly, and that’s a big pain point for IT as well as for the business, even as there has been a shift away from viewing IT as a cost center and seeing IT instead as a value center,” Armstrong says. “IT still misses out on being seen as a strategic partner to the business because it’s not measuring properly and it’s not communicating. So there is a misalignment about what value actually means both to IT and the business.”

To be clear, CIOs don’t need a full-scale marketing campaign, or even a newsletter — although, as Vidoni attests, it can be helpful. Rather experts say it’s about CIOs sharing details on IT’s successes and putting them in business context; they should not assume that their business-unit colleagues can see for themselves how technology delivers business value.

“There’s not enough focus on storytelling in IT,” Armstrong says. “So remember, words matter; don’t be too technical. Second thing, know your audience. And third, know who’s your protagonist and what conflict they’re trying to resolve. Telling how you’ve helped them overcome that conflict is what creates the great story.”

Business IT Alignment, ROI and Metrics

A substantial shift has happened in the enterprise storage industry over the last 12 months that has changed the dialogue about storage. In past years, the first conversations with enterprise storage buyers were about cost efficiency and performance. However, today, the two most important things that come up first in storage conversations are cybersecurity and delivery time. This is a radical change that is redefining strategic planning and purchasing of enterprise storage solutions.

Storage has become part of a bigger conversation that an increasing number of decision-makers in enterprises are recognizing. It’s as if customers are waking up to a new reality – a new normal – that storage needs to be a core component of an enterprise’s corporate cybersecurity strategy, and lead times for delivery of products are longer or, at a minimum, vary by vendor.

One vendor may provide products in weeks, while another vendor will need to take many months to deliver complementary products for an end-to-end solution. Because of this, enterprise buyers and IT solution providers, who provide solutions to enterprise buyers, need to think differently.

In the past, customers and prospective customers who were interested in buying storage solutions were quick to talk about capacity, speed, IOPS, workloads, and application profiles. Storage cybersecurity would not even be discussed until the eighth conversation or later. Yet, in 2022, the first three conversations are laser-focused on cybersecurity and how storage is a critical element of an overall corporate cybersecurity strategy.

The realization that primary and secondary storage are integral to a strong enterprise cyber security posture, including immutable snapshots, fast recovery, fenced-in forensic environments, and more, casts a wide net for the one thing that keeps C-level executives and IT leaders up at night – cyber resilience (or, rather, the lack of it).

If an enterprise does not have the proper level of cyber resilience built into its storage and data infrastructure, there is a huge gap. This is why, on average, it takes an organization nearly 300 days to figure out if they have even been infiltrated by a cybercriminal.

In the work that Infinidat has done to help large enterprises increase their cyber resilience, we have learned what it takes to bring storage and cybersecurity together for an end-to-end approach.

Of course, consolidation and its dramatic impact on capital and operational expense structures are still part of these conversations in the storage market, too. As enterprises upgrade to improve their cybersecurity, they are also using the opportunity to consolidate from a high number of arrays to Infinidat’s petabyte-scale arrays.

Instead of having 50 arrays that have been built up over time, they can consolidate and use a few Infinidat arrays, while getting greater capacity, better availability, unmatched real-world application performance, and higher storage cybersecurity. Consolidation is also a major factor in advancing green IT efforts – less use of power, cooling, floor space, and resources.

Partners need to talk about storage cyber resilience and consolidation with customers, hand-in- hand. But they also need to tackle the other big conversation-starter glaring at all of us in the face – namely, the supply chain challenge that is affecting delivery times.

Customers and partners must embrace the mindset that strategic planning needs to be done earlier, and decisions will need to be made quicker. My message to customers and partners – for their own benefit – is this: talk to their suppliers earlier than they previously have.

Infinidat customers have been benefitting with us. Infinidat has been doing a superb job managing the supply chain and being able to deliver storage solutions faster than suppliers of other types of IT products, such as servers or switches.

But since the supply chain crunch has its ups and downs for all companies (as no vendor is totally immune to vicissitudes), it is smart to talk to us and your other suppliers earlier, so you will not get hit head-on with a supply chain issue.

While Infinidat is able to deliver in a matter of weeks, a server vendor may be saying it will be nine months before the new servers will arrive. The storage platforms cannot be utilized until the servers are installed. So, this is where a partner can step up and find practical solutions to get servers from another source in, for example, a third of the time.

Customers should be working closely with their partners and suppliers to be creative about how to speed up delivery timelines. It may sound like very hard work, but it will actually help prevent bigger problems down the road. There are customers ordering products now, but those products won’t arrive until Q4. They are thinking ahead. They are accelerating decisions as they map out and fulfill their strategic plans.

The functioning of their business depends on these technical and business decisions. You don’t want to have to face an irate CEO who wants to know why you can’t get IT products that are necessary to support the next phase of the company’s digital transformation initiative or elevation of DevOps or help them thwart malware and ransomware threats.

You don’t want to have to explain to the Board of Directors why the data infrastructure could not scale. You don’t want to have to face fines from a government for failure to ensure cyber resilience, leading to the exposure of sensitive data.

Don’t get caught digitally flat-footed.

To learn more, visit Infinidat.

Data Management, Master Data Management