While crystal ball technology is notoriously fallible, tech leaders say there are a handful of changes to IT work that we’ll likely see half a decade from now.

IT pros will work in environments that are more task-based than position-based, experts say, relying more on automation and AI, and using tools that are increasingly portable yet powerful. At the same time, automation through AI in particular will need a human touch, to review processes and results, creating a need for soft skills in the IT ranks that’s greater than ever.

Here’s a look at how IT workforces will operate and collaborate in the near-future enterprise.

Automation takes aim at IT productivity

Driven by AI advancements, IT work will increasingly be automated over the next five years, according to those on the forefront of those changes. In addition to general workplace enhancements, automation will play a vital role across IT domains, including software development, both streamlining IT processes and increasing IT productivity.

“IT leaders have led their organizations through immense workplace changes in the last three years, and it will only become more complex in five years’ time,” says Asana CIO Saket Srivastava. “Organizations are facing a shortage of resources and talent, so we need automation to be our ally to automate mundane, repetitive, and low-value tasks so that our talent can work on more impactful projects.”

Srivastava says companies will automate low-skill tasks to reduce mental load and save time. “Think about how you can implement advanced data science models to understand customer pain points and improve service,” he says.

Jim Flanagan, CIO at Hanscom Federal Credit Union, predicts natural language processing (NLP) will work in tandem with automation to improve the technology that IT staff rely on in the near future.

“NLP has the ability to discern intent, context, and ambiguity within written text and speech,” Flanagan says. “Our calendars will automatically plan our workday based on variables such as deadlines and estimated timeframes, and our inboxes will automatically group emails by priority, considering the sentiment of the sender’s message, ensuring that the most important emails get the quickest attention at our convenience. AI-driven do-not-disturb features will prevent us from getting emails when we need to focus, and this technology will help us to write email replies faster, often with minimal effort on our part.”

AI augments the value of IT work

Like many other industry experts, Mike Hendrickson, vice president of tech and dev products at Skillsoft, sees a bright future for AI in the IT workplace. But as Hendrickson sees it, IT’s AI future will be one of collaboration between IT staff and AI technologies. And as more work is handled by AI, literal people skills will be more important than ever, especially around troubleshooting automated processes.

TripActions CIO Kim Huffman agrees, saying that AI will reduce the number of repeated internal support requests that require human intervention, freeing up IT support employees for more personal interaction.

“We will see AI usage increase in software development and testing functions shifting the role of these employees” toward higher-level, personal-touch tasks, Huffman says. Mike Bechtel, chief futurist for Deloitte Consulting, cautions that adoption of AI for enhancing IT operations and employee productivity will require a new level of trust in the technology.

“An augmented workforce experience — across recruiting, productivity, learning, and more — will certainly be something to watch, as the level of trust that we will likely put in our AI colleagues may be surprising,” Bechtel says. “High confidence that AI is delivering the right analytics and insights will be paramount. To build trust, AI algorithms must be visible, auditable, and explainable, and workers must be involved in AI design and output. Organizations are realizing that competitive gains will best be achieved when there is trust in this technology.”

Moreover, increased reliance on AI for IT support and development work such as entry-level coding, as well as cloud and system administration will put pressure on IT pros to up their skills in more challenging areas, says Michael Gibbs, CEO and founder of Go Cloud Careers.

“With artificial intelligence replacing hands-on tech work, tech workers must increase their business acumen, leadership abilities, communication abilities, emotional intelligence, and architecture skills,” Gibbs says. “The world will need more people with deep architectural experience to further tie the new technologies together to maximize business performance.”

Skills-based teaming and dynamic sourcing

Speaking of skills, that emphasis on business acumen and deeper technical know-how will be coupled with a shift in which organizations in the next few years will seek flexibility by prioritizing skills over jobs, according to Deloitte research.

Deloitte’s Bechtel points to Mercedes-Benz, which he says has “organized some of its IT talent into ‘capability sets’ to improve flexibility for assigning staff to new roles or new products.” And Bechtel says the results speak for themselves: “Skills-based organizations are over 100% more likely to place talent effectively and 98% more likely to retain high performers.”

IT pros who tend to change jobs every few years may, in fact, be just what future organizations are looking for, and we may see a shift in the way the organizations think about long-term careers, he says. 

“Enterprises ahead of the curve are already crowd-sourcing talent, through gig workers or contractors, to fill gaps and free up their internal resources to focus on the most challenging and interesting work, and to the delight of those bored IT pros, we expect more organizations to take this approach,” Bechtel says.

Remote in full force

The pandemic accelerated the development of remote and hybrid teams, and that trend will only continue in the future, Bechtel says. Organizations whose IT employees who prefer working from home will also benefit by sourcing talent from all over the world.

“Given the rate of digital transformation, enterprises are demanding more from their technology teams and are sourcing talent globally,” he says. “Many technology workers have opted to stay remote, creating a more fluid workforce. In fact, 85% of IT divisions plan to be hybrid or fully remote going forward.”

Frank Opat, chief architect and vice president of architecture at Versapay, sees remote support work evolving in both scope and how the work is accomplished. 

“IT pros already know what it’s like to be on call, but with the continued rise of remote and hybrid work, geography and time zones are becoming less relevant,” Opat says. “I expect to see the continued need to adapt so that IT services are available around the clock. I’d imagine that this continued demand will see the rise of natural language process AI to handle things like tier 2 issues or frequently asked questions, much like you see in chat on websites for marketing and customer support today.”

As the impact of widely distributed organizations unfolds over the next few years, Wiley CTO Aref Matin says increasingly sophisticated ways of working remotely will improve collaboration. 

“Virtual and hybrid work is here to stay,” Matin says, “and I think that’s a great thing for technologists. In terms of culture, putting teams in a silo is the fastest way to dishearten them. In a physical workplace, this can be easy to do. I’m hoping that virtual work environments have shown leaders not only the benefit but the necessity of better connectivity between day-to-day work and business outcomes.”

Rehman sees a trend, especially among younger workers, of using mobile devices for IT work instead of being tied to a computer at work, or a desk for that matter.

“I see the next generation using phones for writing an entire doc,” he says. “I saw a kid coding on his phone the other day, not like C emulator stuff, but actual coding. Remember, languages are changing, and I see this more and more. There is a change in how tech workers use our attention span.”

And while it’s difficult to say how all these forces will impact IT salaries on the horizon, Hendrickson sees the confluence of AI and remote work freeing up additional budget for IT talent.

“The days of physical monitoring or fixing are gone. Most everything can be done remotely, and with cloud services and major providers being the future of tech infrastructure, there will be little need to go into a physical office, at least from an infrastructure point of view,” he says. “With the coupling of continued automation and the reliance on cloud technology, organizations can prioritize investments in talent, R&D, and skills and career development ahead of real estate.”

Either way, it’s going to be interesting seeing how the next five years unfold in the IT workplace.

Careers, IT Skills

CIO.com: Can you give us a snapshot of your role and responsibilities as CPTO at Ovo?

Christina Scott: I joined Ovo, the UK’s third largest energy supplier, in September 2021 as chief product and technology officer. In this role, I lead Ovo’s technology, product and data teams, who provide intelligent energy technology solutions as we work towards decarbonising UK homes, an integral part of ‘plan zero’: Ovo’s journey to net zero.

How has your career evolved up to this point?

Before I joined Ovo, I held a number of senior technology roles in media companies including News UK and the FT. I started my career as a mechanical engineer but shifted to technology when I took a job at Accenture. I have mainly focussed on leading companies through digital transition and becoming more data driven.

Amid the attention given to the numerous challenges surrounding energy in the UK, can you tell us about one specific thing you’ve worked on recently that you’re particularly proud of?

As the energy experience becomes increasingly digitised, and our attention turns to fighting the climate crisis, it has never been more important to train people to keep up with the pace of innovation, so I pioneered the launch of the Ovo Tech Academy earlier this year. It’s an apprenticeship programme focused on supporting more people to kickstart a career in software engineering. The apprenticeships are for software developers and they allow the apprentices to learn and earn from day one. Applicants need no previous experience in technology or software engineering, so it opens doors for those with different backgrounds and experiences to join. Every apprentice receives a competitive salary with all training fully paid for by the apprenticeship levy, meaning that they don’t bear any of the programme’s costs, and we hope to expand it to other technology disciplines in the future. I am passionate about bringing new talent into technology roles at a pivotal time for the energy industry.

That is certainly encouraging and addresses the long-term skills issue. So how does it dovetail with other immediate concerns?

Our biggest challenge is to be able to respond fast enough to the rapidly changing market and government demands, while also delivering and focusing on our longer-term goal of decarbonising UK homes. This requires the teams to be flexible, resilient and creative. So having and keeping the right talent to deliver on our exciting mission is critical.

How can CIOs redraw the boundaries around their ever-expanding roles, ensuring they grow and influence the business but not stretch themselves too far?

When I started in technology, it was very much a ‘support’ discipline, often reporting to a COO/CFO, and the focus was on cost optimisation. Over the years, the importance of technology and, therefore, the CIO/CTO role has shifted to be core to a company’s success, becoming more strategic in nature. As this happened, the role increasingly reported to the CEO and had a voice at the top level. There is a danger with this, though, that the technology control becomes a blocker to other disciplines in the company improving. The introduction of a chief digital officer often meant someone owning the digital transformation agenda rather than everyone in the company feeling the need to become more digital. An example is in the data space. Often data warehouses have been built, managed and controlled by the technology teams, which limits the value you can gain. If you can simplify and democratise access to the data, the whole company can use it to drive insight and innovation. At Ovo, we look at creating data steward roles to ensure the health of the data, but federate the data to the business areas.

And finally, what’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?

Do what makes you happy, not what you believe should make you happy. I think there are some narrow definitions of ‘success’, but we’re all individuals and need to be true to ourselves.

CIO, Energy Industry

Today’s CIOs need to be more than strategic, they should be visionaries, too.

With that in mind, many are already looking ahead and planning for what they, their IT departments, and their organizations as a whole will need in 2025.

Todd Cassidy, managing vice president and CIO of associate experience at Capital One, is in that camp.

“We are constantly looking ahead to make sure we are ready for what’s next,” says Cassidy, who is also the company’s chief of staff for technology.

He cites the technology-enabled changes in how people work as well as general advancements in technologies like cloud, machine learning, and open source as trends impacting the three-year roadmap. He cites the continuing need for agility in IT and ongoing training as essential for success in the years ahead.

“CIOs need to be positioned to ride the wave of innovation by not only leveraging advancements in these technologies, but also by leaning on their engineering organizations to accelerate adoption and innovation in that space,” he says.

IT leaders, other executives, and management advisors acknowledge that it’s impossible to know for sure what the future will hold. Yes, they say, something could come out of left field and shake up well-researched plans — as the COVID pandemic did in 2019 and the Great Recession did a decade prior. That said, enterprise officials also say they still must plan ahead, using available information and insights to create their best estimates of what 2025 will bring. And CIOs, they add, are particularly critical to these divinations given how intertwined technology and business have become.

“To continue to grow value, leaders will need to and intend to extend their efforts into digital transformation. CIOs need to be leaders in these efforts,” says Irving Tyler, a distinguished research vice president at research firm Gartner.

More cloud, metaverse on the horizon

CIOs, analysts, and researchers predict that they’ll see a maturation of the technologies they already have in place in the years ahead. They also say they expect some technologies that they’re now only watching or testing to become mainstream by 2025. As they see it, this constitutes an evolution, not a revolution, of digital trends moving forward, making their lists of critical enterprise technologies for 2025 familiar.

Multiple sources, for example, say their three-year roadmaps are heavily weighted toward cloud — in particular, increased public cloud adoption.

“Be prepared for cloud to be the dominant way, where all of our data platforms are service-provided, where all cyber platforms are service-provided, where [the tools] we develop with will be in a hyperscale cloud environment,” says Barry Brunsman, leader of the CIO Advisory Center of Excellence at KPMG and a principal in the firm’s CIO Advisory practice.

Moreover, CIOs and researchers believe a robust cloud environment will be mandatory for capitalizing on other technology trends expected to be in play in 2025. This includes a surge of interest in and use cases for augmented reality, virtual reality, and the metaverse, according to CIOs, even though that latter technology is currently far from prime-time ready.

“We see real enthusiasm for Web3 and the metaverse,” Brunsman says.

Others agree, noting that CIOs are being tasked to imagine the art of the possible with the metaverse and how organizations can use it to engage and support employees and customers in new ways.

But Brunsman tempers expectations for the metaverse and its potential in 2025, explaining that many executives are reluctant to be on the leading edge of metaverse adoption.

Connected devices, torrents of data

CIOs and IT advisors also expect the high growth rates of connected devices to continue over the next three years.

“The internet of things is going to continue to explode,” says Craig Wright, senior partner for advisory and transformation at management and technology consulting firm West Monroe. “We’re already in the billions of devices, but we’re talking about trillions [in the upcoming years].”

As a result, CIOs are plotting out what they’ll need to support, monitor, and secure that burgeoning endpoint infrastructure, he says. This means looking at biometrics to replace passwords and even tokens for security, more edge computing devices to process data, more intelligence tools to understand the data being generated by the endpoint devices, and more automation to react to the data analysis.

This emphasis on data is a key facet of CIOs’ 2025 outlooks. They anticipate a tsunami of data — even greater than is experienced today — with data coming from not only the growing number of endpoint devices but also systems of record and other applications, which will only be increasing the amount of data they produce and collect.

“The trend around data will continue. Organizations will continue to mature in how they use data and its impact on decision-making. It will be critical for the technology team to have knowledge around data, what insights it can provide, and how to use it to further business objectives,” says Joan Holman, CIO of the law firm Clark Hill. “We need to be thinking about where our data exists, how do we protect it, how do we pull together all of the pieces and drive value in supporting the organization.”

Consequently, CIOs will be building out more advanced analytics — either on their own or in partnership with their data and/or digital executive colleagues. And they’ll be seeking, in 2025, to harness more of that data to fuel a growing suite of artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities, says Benjamin Rehberg, who as managing director with Boston Consulting Group leads the firm’s Technology Advantage practice in North America.

CIO as chief integration officer

To succeed, both now and as the future unfolds, CIOs will need to synthesize a range of technologies cohesively to deliver experiences, functionalities, and services to employees, partners, and most definitely customers.

“When you think about 2025, our teams will continue to focus on serving both customers, internal and external, and to find ways to make our business better on a daily basis,” says Richard A. Hook, executive vice president and CIO of Penske Automotive Group and CIO of Penske Corp. “In addition, our teams will continue to evolve their skills to ensure everyone has at least a security baseline of knowledge (deeper depending on roles), increased depth on various cloud platforms and configurations, and the skills necessary to build automation within IT and the business.”

And they must do that in a frictionless and intuitive manner, and in ways that anticipate the needs of each individual that their IT solutions serve.

“We see that leaders increasingly recognize the next phase of new value will come from transformational efforts — seeking to change their business models, finding new forms of digitalized products and services, new ways to reach new customer segments, etc.,” says Gartner’s Tyler. “CIOs won’t own the visions needed but have the opportunity to be leaders in development of these transformational visions.”

The IT workforce of the future

CIOs are also thinking of the capabilities and skills they’ll need in their tech workers and in themselves to create the IT department of the future.

Joanne Lee, principal research director of CIO advisory services at Info-Tech Research Group, predicts the need for more critical thinking and problem-solving skills, as well as more emotional intelligence (EQ), so that IT can continue to build its ability to identify ways of using technology to create new opportunities.

“Innovation and ideation will also become increasingly important,” Lee says, adding that CIOs can expect to the need for data-related skills and expertise around environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) to rise.

In addition, CIOs anticipate further need for IT to grow its business acumen and its ability to collaborate with the other functional areas within their organizations. It is also expected that IT capabilities will further extend into other functional areas within the organization and that CIOs and IT staff will need to learn how to use the technology talent of workers within those other departments effectively, Tyler says.

“The IT function cannot be the only source of technology,” he says. “CIOs need to enable greater access to technology tools and data and expertise to enable strategic business capabilities to transform in order to generate and deliver more value.”

As a result, cross-functional or fusion teams that blend technology and business professionals to ensure side-by-side collaboration on business initiatives will become more of the norm for organizations seeking to transform.

“Increasingly technology will be produced and operated by fusion teams across the business with the IT organization equipping and enabling these efforts through new forms of shared expertise, services, team structures, and technology communities,” Tyler says.

This “democratization” of technology will put CIOs in more of an orchestration mode, one in which they must ask, “‘How can I and my organization enable expanded development and use of technology outside of IT in an optimal way? How do we help build the technology talent and support business technologist across the enterprise to enable their success?’” Tyler says, adding, “CIOs need to focus on transforming technology delivery and fully integrating the IT operating model with the enterprise operating model.”

Similarly, CIOs say they must further evolve their DevOps practices and truly embrace agile methodologies, as organizational leaders will likely expect delivery of new tech capabilities to happen even faster in the future.

That, coupled with the growing complexity of IT and cyber operations, will also drive up automation adoption, which in turn means IT will need more expertise around automation and AIOps.

Prepare now

Future-looking CIOs acknowledge they don’t fully know what they’ll need for 2025, but with a good sense of what’s ahead, they’re already prepping — one of the main benefits of drawing up the roadmap.

These roadmaps by and large include speeding up cloud investments while shedding legacy technologies, developing a talent strategy along with training requirements, selecting vendors whose services can keep pace with their own roadmap, and aligning all of that with the business’ own vision for 2025, industry observers say.

“CIOs today are very much trusted advisors, meeting their C-level peers often and discussing market and customer trends,” says Gordon Barnett, principal analyst with research firm Forrester. “Experienced CIOs will understand which core, essential, and supporting business capabilities will be the basis of their business’s strategy. By understanding the capabilities, CIOs and their subordinates will analyze the required competency and capacity needs of those capabilities. It is this understanding that will drive CIOs to research which technologies and practices need to be invested in to support the strategy.”

Emerging Technology, IT Leadership, IT Strategy

We live in a highly connected world. Technology has broken down many barriers to trade.  Every aspect of retail has been disrupted, from the way shoppers research purchases to the methods they use to pay. However, despite the powerful forces of globalization, significant local differences exist. 

In some countries, the use of mobile phones is now an essential part of the physical shopping experience, while in other territories there’s a more obvious distinction between online and offline shopping. 

Payment innovations like buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) are popular in parts of the world but have yet to gain traction everywhere. And some countries are far more comfortable buying items like groceries online than others.

So, while it’s possible to sketch global trends, an understanding of local markets is vital if merchants are to create services, payment options, and communication strategies that will really resonate. The old saying ‘retail is detail’ is as relevant now as ever.


Every year, we publish reports about shopping trends around the world. This year’s reports, the Global Digital Shopping Index series, looked at six different markets: the UAE, Brazil, the USA, the UK, Australia, and Mexico. Here are some of the key local differences we’ve uncovered this year: 

Ringing the changes
Many of us got used to shopping online during the pandemic – and now that people are returning to stores, they’re using their phones to help them shop.

The overall use of mobile phones to enhance the in-store shopping experience is up 19% since 2020, but as the chart below illustrates, the use of phones varies considerably in different markets.


% of in-store shoppers who used mobile devices to assist with their shopping experiences *

Flexing up
One of the big developments in payments over the last few years has been the rise of flexible BNLP platforms. BNPL is used by the majority of consumers in Brazil but only a third of total shoppers in the UK.


Overall % of shoppers who use BNPL, by country *

Comparing the data on Brazil to the numbers in the UAE reveals some stark differences: over half of older consumers in Brazil use BNPL, whereas in the UAE it’s only around 1 in 20.

But while Brazil shows across-the-board adoption of BNPL, the biggest adopters are young Australians. They’re more than three times more likely to use flexible payment platforms than the oldest generation of consumers.


Share of consumers in selected markets who’ve used BNPL in the last year, by generation *

Food for thought
When the pandemic hit, much of modern life switched online – including activities like buying groceries. Today, just over 40% of consumers say they’re likely to order their groceries online. But that figure masks some big regional differences, with Brazilian shoppers half as likely to do so as consumers in the UAE.


Consumers who are “very” or “extremely likely” to buy groceries using a “digital-first” approach *

While on average people are less likely to buy groceries online than non-perishables like clothes or electronics, that’s not the case everywhere. Indeed, consumers in the UAE are far more likely to buy their groceries online than anything else.


Most likely categories to be bought using a “digital-first” approach, by country *

One size does not fit all
Digitalization, flexible payments and the use of mobile phones as part of the shopping experience are all factors no retailer can ignoreBut, as these stats show, merchants need to dig beneath the headline trends if they really want to succeed in individual markets.

A little local knowledge really could go a long way.

For the full picture, explore the Global Digital Shopping Index series now.

*  All data comes from the Global Digital Shopping Index and supporting research

IT Leadership