CIO Talvis Love has weathered a tsunami of rapid and significant changes at Baxter International over the past year — with little reprieve in sight.

In late 2021, the med tech company completed the $12.4 billion acquisition of Hillrom, the largest in its history, to expand the company’s digital health and connected care offerings. While Love and his 3,500-person IT team were working on that integration, the company announced in January 2023 plans to spin off its acute care and renal units, which is about a third of the business. One month later, Baxter began changing its operating model and restructuring the remaining company.

“Those are huge, significant changes that require us to pivot and adjust our approach, and tech is the linchpin to all of them,” says Love, senior vice president and CIO of Baxter. So he’s fast-forwarding his plan to embed IT within business teams to make these critical transitions. “The only way we can meet our goals is having the IT and business teams working close together as part of one team.”

Talvis Love, CIO, Baxter International

Baxter International

The need to strengthen business and IT collaboration tops the list of priorities that CEOs have for their CIOs this year, according to Foundry’s 2023 State of the CIO survey. As organizations face macroeconomic uncertainty and rapid changes to market conditions, collaboration between IT and business units are crucial to making those transitions quickly and smoothly.

Security, customer experience, and business and digital transformations also made CEOs’ top priorities lists for their CIOs this year. IT leaders describe how those priorities are playing out in their IT organizations today.

Foundry /

Upgrading IT and data security

CIOs always have cyber and information security somewhere on their priority lists, but global turbulence with China and Russia have many CEOs taking notice too. More than a quarter of CEOs want CIOs to upgrade IT and data security to reduce corporate risk in the next 12 months, according to the survey. 

Cybersecurity became a bigger issue this year for Josh Hamit, senior VP and CIO at Altra Federal Credit Union, due in part to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which touched off warnings about possible Russia-backed hackers stepping up cyberattacks on US targets. As a result, Hamit has brought extra attention to partnering with Altra’s CISO to perfect security fundamentals, cyber hygiene and best practices, and layered defenses.

More likely cyber scenarios have IT leaders increasingly concerned as well. For instance, three out of four global businesses expect an email-borne attack will have serious consequences for their organization in the coming year, according to CSO Online’s State of Email Security report. Hybrid work has led to more email (82% of companies report a higher volume of email in 2022) and that has incentivized threat actors to steal data through a proliferation of social engineering attacks, shifting their focus from targeting the enterprise network itself to capitalizing on the vulnerable behaviors of individual employees. This will require hardening email and collaboration tool defenses and response capabilities, but also securing the data they’re seeking.

Improving the customer experience

Customer and employee experience have become central tenets for successful digital transformation, and about a quarter of CEOs are continuing to invest in technologies and processes that improve the customer journey, according to the State of the CIO survey.

JP Saini’s top initiative at Sunbelt Rentals is “the obsession with our customers,” he says. For Saini, CIO and chief digital and technology officer, this means humanizing the business and technology aspects of each worker’s job and serving each persona — whether that’s the office workers, salespeople, equipment rental specialists in the stores, technicians, or even drivers, he says. Then he dissects each persona-based journey to understand what they go through in doing their daily jobs. That way “you’re designing a [technology or digital process] based on what they need,” to create greater efficiencies, he says.  

JP Saini, chief digital and technology officer, Sunbelt Rentals

Sunbelt Rentals

Leading business and digital transformations

Nearly a quarter of CEOs place business and digital transformations as a top-three priority for their CIOs.

CIO Max Chan’s digital mandate at electronic components distributor Avnet is driving improvement in the supply chain and design chain. As a distributor that sits between its supplier partners and downstream customers, “we have all the demand and supply signals that we can help navigate, and then we can apply that to solve these supply chain challenges that everyone is having,” he says.

Max Chan, CIO, Avnet


To that end, Chan’s team is working on machine-to-machine frictionless transactions between suppliers and customers, and creating a single pane of glass for suppliers to solve issues more easily. In the design chain, “we’re creating design capabilities where stakeholders can get together and come up with new designs faster to ultimately help enable customers to go more quickly to market,” he says.

New digital transformation projects will help foster more autonomy for employees at the Judicial Branch of Arizona in Maricopa County. CIO Charisse Richards wants to empower the business to handle some technical tasks on their own without IT intervention. So she’s prioritized a ServiceNow implementation to automate tasks and give employees more control.  

Charisse Richards, CIO, Judicial Branch of Arizona in Maricopa County

Judicial Branch of Arizona in Maricopa County

“We have a lot of people that call and email the service desk,” Richards says. “I want to see a reduction in the time that the helpdesk spends in those rote tasks — entering tickets and answering calls — and spend more time with our high-touch customers,” namely judges, she says. “We’re not getting more money for additional staff, so we need to be more efficient.”

Helping reach revenue growth goals

The CIO’s role continues to evolve from focusing only on uptime and availability, to cost-cutting and efficiency gains, to now holding a key position in the C-suite where technology influences every part of the organization. One in five CEOs now place corporate revenue growth as a top priority for their CIOs, according to the survey.

CIO Ajay Sabhlok believes his mandate is “to figure out how to generate revenue” for security technology vendor Rubrik. One example is the company’s lead-to-cash process. Data showed the company wasn’t closing expected orders, which was showing up as lost revenue in quarterly reports, Sabhlok says. So he and his team identified the need for a more advanced opportunity management process that has an engine for more accurate scoring of business leads, automates manual tasks that were holding up orders, and delivers data-driven insights through user-friendly dashboards. The result: more leads converted to sales, which boosted quarterly revenue figures.

Savvy CIOs should already be steps ahead of CEOs on these priorities and shouldn’t wait to be asked, says Baxter’s Love. “Create a deep understanding of what’s driving the business. Understand how your company makes money and how that’s changing over time, and what are the biz leaders’ goals and priorities,” Love says. “Don’t wait to ask to be at the table. Sometimes IT leaders wait to get asked to the party. I say invite yourself.”

IT Leadership

The post-pandemic reality. Macroeconomic turbulence. Explosive technology innovations. Generational shifts in technological expectations. All these forces and more drive rapid, often confusing change in organizations large and small.

With every such change comes opportunity–for bad actors looking to game the system. Cybersecurity cannot stand still, or the waves of innovation will overrun the shores.

Adversaries continue to innovate. Keeping up–and hopefully, staying ahead–presents new challenges. Here is a short list of recent considerations for CIOs as they work with their teams to shore up their defenses.

Multifactor authentication fatigue and biometrics shortcomings

Multifactor authentication (MFA) is a popular technique for strengthening the security around logins. With MFA, the website or application will send a text message or push notification to the user with a code to enter along with their password.

MFA fatigue or ‘push phishing’ is a popular hack that targets MFA by repeatedly sending the user superfluous, malicious MFA notifications in hopes they inadvertently accept one or simply click to stop the annoying flood of messages.

In other cases, MFA includes a biometric step–reading a fingerprint, scanning a face, and the like. Users appreciate the convenience of biometrics, but they have their flaws as well. 

Sometimes they simply don’t work, perhaps due to a change in contact lenses or a new tattoo. Any spy thriller aficionado will also know it’s possible to ‘steal’ someone’s fingerprint or facial image–and once an individual’s biometric is compromised, there’s no way to change it the way we change passwords.

Security implications of ChatGPT and its ilk

ChatGPT and other generative AI technologies have taken the world by storm, but the combination of their sudden popularity and a general lack of understanding of how they work is a recipe for disaster.

In reality, generative AI presents a number of new and transformed risks to the organization. For example, ChatGPT is eerily proficient at writing phishing emails–well-targeted at particular individuals and free from typos.

A second, more pernicious risk is the fact that ChatGPT can write malware. Sometimes the malware has errors, but with simple repetition the hacker can generate multiple working versions of the code. Such polymorphic malware is particularly hard to detect, because it may be different from one attack to another.

Securing the software supply chain

The Log4j vulnerability that reared its ugly head in late 2021 showed a bright light on the problem of software supply chain security.

Most commercial enterprise software products and nearly all open-source ones depend upon numerous software packages and libraries. Many of these libraries are themselves open-source and depend upon other libraries in a complex network of opaque interdependencies.

Some of these components have professional teams that test and maintain them, releasing security patches as needed. Other open-source components are the result of some lone developer’s moonlighting activities from years past. 

For each open-source component in your entire IT infrastructure, which are the well-maintained ones, and which are the forgotten work of hobbyists? And how do you tell?

Getting ahead of the ransomware gangs

Ransomware is big business for the criminal gangs who have figured out how to capitalize on it. The malware itself is easy to buy on the Dark Web. In fact, there’s a veritable bazaar of ransomware variations, as hackers maneuver to create the most pernicious version.

From the enterprise side, the ransomware problem is multifaceted and dynamic. The malware itself continues to evolve, as do the criminal strategies of the perpetrators. 

The most familiar strategy–encrypting files on servers and then demanding a ransom for the decryption key–is but one approach among many. Other attackers steal data and threaten to release it to the public. Another angle is to target the victim’s backups.

No list of strategies and techniques does the ransomware problem justice, as the bad guys continue to innovate. CIOs and CISOs must remain eternally vigilant.

Managing costs while supporting digital transformation

The Covid pandemic accelerated many digital transformation initiatives as executives struggled to meet the suddenly changing needs of both customers and employees.

Today, economic challenges generate digital transformation headwinds as the needs of customers and employees change once again to address post-pandemic realities.

Cybersecurity budgets are typically caught between these two forces. Given the importance of meeting customer needs on limited resources, how important is cybersecurity?

It’s vitally important, of course – but it’s only one of the many risks CIOs must mitigate. Other risks include operational risk (the risk of downtime), technical debt risk (the risk of failures of legacy technologies), as well as compliance risk.

There’s never enough money to drive all these risks to zero–so how should executives decide which risks to mitigate and how much money and time to spend mitigating them?

Organizations must be able to engineer comprehensive risk management that quantifies each type of risk and establishes risk targets that conform to budgetary and human resource limitations.

This ‘threat engineering’ gives CIOs a justifiable approach to making cybersecurity expenditure decisions while also mitigating the other risks facing the IT organization.

Advice moving forward

This article highlights modern security trends for CIOs that weren’t on anybody’s radar as little as five years ago. Five years from now, the list might once again be entirely different.

Such is the nature of cybersecurity risk management. The risks continue to evolve as adversaries improve their strategies. CIOs must remain vigilant while they leverage state-of-the-art cybersecurity tools and strategies to keep one step ahead of the bad guys.

Read the eBook: Views from the C-suite: Why endpoint management is more critical than ever before

© Intellyx LLC. Tanium is an Intellyx customer. Intellyx retains final editorial control of this article. No AI was used in the production of this article.


Human-centric work is a growing movement that focuses on the needs of people, reaping business rewards in the process. As recent Gartner research shows, human-centric work practices leads to better employee performance, with workers 3.8 times more likely to be considered high performing in these environments. 

As some of your most valuable employees, software developers should be considered specifically in how to best apply these insights. In the software world, “developer experience” is a key aspect to work satisfaction — one that is not well understood by non-developers.

By bringing together the insights of human-centric work and developer experience, IT leaders can create a work culture that builds and retains top performing developers. Here are seven ways to cultivate a developer-centric environment that will pay dividends.

1. Understand what developer experience is

The leader who understands what developer experience is and gets why it’s important to coders is ahead of the game.

At the most basic level, developer experience (DX) is about how it feels to use a tool or system when building software. It stretches from the very specific, like the difference in how languages handle functional programming, to the general, like the difference in how it “feels” to use different cloud platforms. DX doesn’t stop there, encompassing the culture and attitude of what it means to live the developer lifestyle. In this most broad sense, DX is a major feature of how developers, especially experienced ones, feel when working in an organization.

At the heart of the human-centric philosophy is the idea of autonomous accountability, which means giving people goals and holding them accountable for performance while giving them as much control over how they accomplish things as possible. The idea is that people know what is working and what isn’t, and they are best able to course correct in fast, iterable fashion. And it very much aligns with a valued developer experience.

2. Understand why DX matters

Developers have a self-referential relationship with developer experience: They often build the tools they use, appreciating the way things work and the creative engineering that goes into building the things they use. 

Artistry and appreciation drive the software community forward. Ever since the early days of shared mainframes developers have joined together to create and collaborate on projects that stimulate their minds. The interest and uptake of developers in tech projects has become a key element in determining what projects are funded and find their way into common usage. DX is what distinguishes these projects among developers, and it acts as a kind of indicator of evolutionary suitability.

Dan Moore, head of developer relations at FusionAuth, draws a useful distinction about DX, saying, “Developer experience can be split into internal and external developer experience. The former is about enabling internal teams to build in a more coherent, secure, faster way by providing building blocks and guardrails along with self-service tooling. The latter is for increasing sales and building a sticky platform for developers outside your organization.”

To ensure those results, IT leaders must continuously ask what it is like to be a developer at their organization and find ways to make that experience better.

3. From DevOps to ‘DevEx’ — and back again

The expansion of DevOps has empowered developers to be involved in the full product lifecycle and influence that lifecycle in a holistic fashion. If you haven’t already embraced DevOps, that is a good first move in the direction of developer-centric practices. 

DX takes DevOps to the next level. As Guillermo Rauch, CEO and founder of Vercel told me, “Organizations will move from DevOps to dev experience. Great developer experience leads to better developer productivity and improved developer velocity, directly improving your bottom line. Every organization should be thinking, ‘How do I empower my developers to spend more time on the application and product layer while spending minimal time on the backend and infrastructure layer?’”

Looked at this way, focusing on DX is a way to better enable developers to control how they work: Instead of figuring out what DevOps processes are best and then imposing them on teams, empower the team to devise processes and technology that best suits them. After all, empowered teams involved in processes firsthand can better design and build tools for their tasks in response to changing conditions. 

Put another way, good DevOps is a natural outcome of good DX, and vice versa.

4. Have someone own DX

Including developers and IT staff in discussions around what tools to use — and giving them purchasing influence — provides an invaluable feedback loop about what is and isn’t working. It also ensures developers feel they are being heard, making them more likely to be invested in the project

The key to nurturing benevolent cycles between the business and tech staff is finding and empowering the force magnifiers in the organization, those individuals who can help speak for the developer experience and provide a bridge to the business side. A great way to help here is to explicitly put someone, or several someones, in charge of DX. This might be part of someone’s responsibility or the sole focus of a group, depending on the scope of your organization.

Establishing an explicit focus on managing the health of DX and providing a way for those involved with DX to interface with the business will greatly contribute to the overall success of your DX efforts.

5. Don’t push developers to fail their second audience

Developers create software for two audiences: users and developers — that is, those developers who will work on the product. For users, product excellence is critical. But for developers, excellence inside the product is extremely important as well, and that has big implications for the business using the software. In this sense, DX is an indication of code quality, which says everything about the viability of software.

Here, the importance to the business is two-fold. First, systems with good DX are easier to maintain and extend, with software quality a key differentiator between code that can grow and evolve and code that is doomed to degrade and decay. Second, when DX is high, developers — especially senior ones — are more likely to be satisfied with working on the project. Because of this, the importance of code quality shows why project velocity is not a metric to be seen in isolation as it often is. 

As the human experience of working on projects, DX is the most indicative characteristic of a project’s health. How it feels to work in the internals of a project is affected by everything from tooling to meeting tempo, and whether that feels pleasant or unpleasant says everything about how well things are going, how they will proceed, and whether people will want to continue working on it.

6. Provide opportunities to learn, teach, share

Learning, teaching, and sharing are major incentives for developers. And the more accomplished, passionate, and caring the developer, the more they typically matter. The ability to craft DX and help others see its value is essential. By inculcating a culture where everyone is participating in a larger journey that includes sharing, everyone finds a deeper well of inspiration.

Incorporating contribution to open-source projects is a great way to accomplish this.  Many software-oriented businesses include an open-source component for good reason.  It allows developers to express their creations, pulls in contributions from the wider world, and draws friendly attention to what’s being done in the organization.

Every developer’s experience is lifted up when their work feels a part of something greater.

7. Mitigate DX-killing red tape

The business longs for metrics and insights into what’s happening in the dark interior of software creation. But too much intrusion into developer workflow is a real DX killer. Instead, minimize unnecessary meetings and reporting, and keep an eye on what works most efficiently. Even just the sense that leadership is incorporating this factor into their strategizing will help.

The best software developers thrive in an environment where they can focus on what they do best — building software — and spend most of their time on activities that feel valuable.  They have honed and invested in what they are good at, and they want to spend as much time as possible on those tasks.

Reducing friction between teams and areas of ownership is also important. IT leaders are in the position to help break down silos of ownership and exclusivity. 

8. Automate (and de-stress) delivery

Recent research shows that 7 in 10 developers quit projects because of stress over delivery.  A million and one things go into the detailed activity of building software and when it is all bundled up into a single discrete thing that is to be delivered without problems, it’s very stressful. There is a sense of never really doing enough, despite your best efforts. 

The best way to address that is to build reliable automated systems. Continuous integration and delivery, automated testing and the like are becoming standard, must-have parts of dev processes these days, but they are only part of the story. A culture of support is just as necessary. How developers feel treated in their times of difficulty and uncertainty has a huge impact on DX. If successful organizations maintain a two-way street between business and IT, DX is the condition of the road. 

Hiring, Software Development, Staff Management

Even the modern workplace can be boring and repetitive. Enter robotic process automation (RPA): a smart set of tools that deploys AI and low-code options to simplify workflows and save everyone time while also adding safeguards that can prevent costly mistakes.

What is RPA?

Robotic process automation (RPA) is an application of technology, governed by business logic and structured inputs, aimed at automating business processes. Using RPA tools, a company can configure software, or a “robot,” to capture and interpret applications for processing a transaction, manipulating data, triggering responses, and communicating with other digital systems.

In some organizations, RPA is a way to modernize old software without replacing it. Most organizations have business applications that work perfectly well but require users to click on the same boxes in the same patterns all day long. RPA tools aim to replace that tedium, adding a new layer to automate repetitive tasks without having to reinvent the application at the core.

RPA benefits

RPA is also a relatively simple way to integrate AI algorithms into old applications. Many RPA platforms offer computer vision and machine learning tools that can guide the older code. Optical character recognition, for example, might extract a purchase order from an uploaded document image and trigger accounting software to deal with it. The ability to suck words and numbers from images are a big help for document-heavy businesses such as insurance or banking.

The biggest benefit, however, may be how RPA tools are “programmed,” or “trained” — a process by which the platforms’ robots “learn” watching business users click away. This job, sometimes called “process discovery,” can use a click stream to imitate what your users just did — similar to how spreadsheet macros can be created.

Still, RPA isn’t automatic. Manual intervention and tweaking is necessary during training. Sometimes code must be written to handle what can’t be achieved by a preconfigured bot. But you won’t have to do much of this. Moreover, the bots keep getting smarter, making training easier and edge cases less frequent. AI routines can also help look for patterns that may speed up the bots in the future.

Top RPA tools

RPA tools have grown to be parts of larger ecosystems that map out and manage the enterprise computing architecture. These systems can manage the various APIs and services while also helping the data flow with extra bots.

RPA tools are also starting to take on roles managing the cloud. While the first iterations were aimed at desktop users, functions that help with backend control are more common. The boundaries between RPA for the desktop and maintaining the databases and services is blurring more and more.

The RPA marketplace offers a mixture of new, purpose-built tools and older tools that have been given features for adding automation. Some began as business process management (BPM) tools and expanded with new features. Some vendors market their tools as “workflow automation” or “work process management.” Others distinguish RPA from “business process automation” by saying that RPA includes more sophisticated AI and machine vision routines.

Following is an alphabetical list of the top RPA tools available today. For more on how to determine which RPA tool is best for your organization, see “How to choose RPA software: 10 key factors to consider.”

RPA toolMajor featuresUse cases

Document editing and signature tracking
Contract and agreement processing

Java-centric bots offer cross-platform range
Client management and compliance paperwork processing

Automation Anywhere
The Center of Excellence (CoE) manager tracks the performance of the various bots in a centralized dashboard; Bot Insight drills down to track the performance of each bot
Opening up bot development and deployment across the enterprise

Pay-as-you-go pricing simplifies adoption
Chatbot management; front-, middle-, and back-office document processing

AWS Lambda
Automating backend data flows in the Amazon cloud
Fixing problems and smoothing data movement between services

Cyclone Robotics
Built for the Chinese market with a wide range of plugins tackling major platforms and services with AI
A wide range of markets, including mobile

Integration with AI for OCR and language analysis; mainframe integration; desktop version
Chatbot and call center support; desktop automation

EdgeVerve Systems
Open-source edition; tighter integration with AI for contextual and visual processing
Supply chain management, financial transactions

Fortra Automate
Integration with Microsoft desktop applications
Claims processing, service industries

IBM Automation
Deep experience with enterprise workflow; integration with many mainframes
Data capture, scientific process management; business decision automation, front-line customer care

Integration with enterprise content management tools; microapps platform to simplify deployment
Managing content collections; data pipeline integration

AI-powered chatbots and a cloud-native robots
The Work Execution System offers general support for document-centric business tasks

Microsoft Power
Focus on Windows 10 or 11 platform on the desktop or on Azure
Broad, enterprise-wide empowerment; AI integration

MuleSoft RPA (formerly Servicetrace)
AI-based OCR and a good editor encourages development; recent merger will bolster integration with API-based workflows
Banking, utilities, and other industries with heavy compliance-driven work

Integration between desktop assistants and server-side backend
Call center automation; customer service tools; speeding workflow by creating robots that first learn by assisting humans before graduating to full autonomy in the back office

Tight integration with dominant desktop tools
Compliance pipelines dominated by documents

NTT-AT WinActor
Heavy integration with Microsoft tools
Email processing and database integration; spreadsheet automation

Fully integrated with suite of enterprise tools for developing, deploying, and automating data processing
Regulatory compliance and integration

Python-based bots
Document processing and data extraction

Samsung SDS Brity RPA
Aimed at improving industrial and enterprise business flow through automation
Time-saving and quality improvement for enterprise-driven tasks

Integration with the SAP stack
Automating the business processes tracked and driven by SAP

SS&C Blue Prism
Big investment in AI, including machine vision and sentiment analysis for classifying and responding to all messages
Building a full chain of document and message processing

Open environment allows integration of VB.Net, C#, Python, and Java code when challenges grow
Integration with full legacy stack solutions; transaction processing

Digital workers tuned to common roles for RPA and workforce automation.
Email and client interaction; task routing


Document-centric tasks such as PDF editing or generating eSignatures for contracts are one of the focuses for Airslate. The bots for simplifying the workflow are programmed with the drag-and-drop Flow Creator. Preprogrammed resources include connections to major backends such as Salesforce as well as a collection of templates for common processes. 

Major features: Document editing and signature trackingMajor use cases: Contract and agreement processing


Appian acquired Jidoka in 2020 and changed the product’s name to Appian RPA while integrating it with its Digital Process Automation suite. Jiodka is a Japanese term that might be translated as “automation with a human touch,” a reference to how its software robots are trained to emulate humans interacting with the standard systems — mainframe terminal, web, databases, and so on. Appian RPA’s low-code integrated development environment (IDE) encourages fast creation of custom bots, while the dashboard tracks all the operating robots and can create a video of the screen to help debug the bots deployed across Appian’s cloud. The information is ingested into what they call a “Data Fabric” filled with not just numbers and letters, but relationships between elements. Deeper integration across both desktop platforms and mobile brings their tool to the edges of any enterprise network.

Major features: Java-centric bots offer cross-platform rangeMajor use cases: Client management and compliance paperwork processing

Automation Anywhere

The Bot Store at Automation Anywhere offers a collection of tools for the Automation 360 platform that perform standard clicking and tracking as well as processes that glue together complex data files. There are bots for extracting information from spreadsheets, files, or web pages, and bots for storing this information in databases for issue tracking, invoice processing, and more. Many of the bots rely on APIs such as Microsoft Azure’s image analysis API. One of the goals is opening up access across the enterprise with easy-to-automate tools such as AARI, which can turn any web application into an automated worker. They also offer a “community edition” that is free for small businesses with a limited workflow and a cloud-based service, saving you the trouble of installing and maintaining the RPA itself. 

Major features: The Center of Excellence (CoE) manager tracks the performance of the various bots in a centralized dashboard; Bot Insight drills down to track the performance of each botMajor use cases: Opening up bot development and deployment across the enterprise


The bots at AutomationEdge offer “hyperautomation” through a mixture of API interaction and AI. The focus is interacting with web pages, databases, and Excel spreadsheets. Its “Conversational RPA” brings a natural language interface to many interactions. Many bots in the bot store are preconfigured for specific industries or sections of a business, such as human resources or customer relations. AutomationEdge also offers a free version that’s limited in time, steps, and reach. Some AI-driven options such as the Conversational RPA and Intelligent Document Processing aren’t included. A cloud-based service is also available for those who don’t want to install it.

Major features: Pay-as-you-go pricing simplifies adoptionMajor use cases: Chatbot management; front-, middle-, and back-office document processing

AWS Lambda

The Amazon cloud is filled with options for data processing. Lambda functions act like logical glue for connecting services and automating work flowing through their networks. The functions can be as small or as large as needed and they can be triggered when new data arrives. Lambda functions are aimed more at automating work on the backend, and they are most efficient when working with AWS services but can be connected to any service with extra work.

Major features: Automating backend data flows in the Amazon cloudMajor use cases: Fixing problems and smoothing data movement between services

Cyclone Robotics

The Cyclone toolset is growing into a broad selection of tools that support low code and not-so-low code development. Its RPA Studio brings together basic automation tools for building data pipelines with advanced AI tools for OCR and computer vision. It also offers a low-code option for integrating multiple tools into a cohesive, automated workflow. Small and midsize businesses can also run the tools in Cyclone’s cloud using the EasyPie service.

Major features: Built for the Chinese market with a wide range of plugins tackling major platforms and services with AIMajor use cases: A wide range of markets, including mobile


TruBots, the name Datamatics gives its individual programs, are created with TruBot Designer, a tool that enables you to create and edit the software. Much of the work is accomplished by dragging and dropping components in a visual designer, but developers can also adjust the system-generated code in an IDE. The bots can be coordinated with TruBot Cockpit, and the system emphasizes text processing with special tools for scanning images and making sense of unstructured text. The tool runs in the cloud but some features can be installed on your own machine with a personal edition for handling more personal tasks, something Datamatics calls the “democratization of RPA.” Teams with document-heavy workloads can use TruCap, a tool for template-free data ingestion.

Major features: Integration with AI for OCR and language analysis; mainframe integration; desktop versionMajor use cases: Chatbot and call center support; desktop automation

EdgeVerve Systems

The AssistEdge system helps build out your data processing infrastructure by integrating with major data sources and tracking users to discover common work patterns with AssistEdge Discover. Call centers and customer help portals can use AssistEdge Engage to automate the repetitive tasks of orchestrating multiple legacy systems. When possible, EdgeVerve relies on AI to provide contextual help and process incoming forms and other data. The document processing system, XtractEdge, for instance, offers OCR to speed form processing. The company also has systems optimized for industries such as supply chain management (TradeEdge) or banking. It offers migration from desktop to a cloud solution, and an open-source edition.

Major features: Open-source edition; tighter integration with AI for contextual and visual processingMajor use cases: Supply chain management, financial transactions

Fortra Automate

The RPA tools from Fortra (formerly HelpSystems) tackle business tasks ranging from responding to inquiries to generating reports. The core Desktop Automation tool scrapes data sources and interacts with web apps and local software by simulating events in the Windows GUI. There’s an emphasis on Microsoft Office tools to produce reports, both textual and graphical, consumed while managing a business. Larger jobs that span multiple desktops can use Automate Plus and Automate Ultimate for added scale. Document scanning is performed with Automate Intelligent Capture. All integrate security and audit capabilities to help managers after development.

Major features: Integration with Microsoft desktop applicationsMajor use cases: Claims processing, service industries

IBM Automation

IBM offers a wide range of options for automating menial tasks, split into separate products, and bundled under the umbrella of IBM Automation. IBM Cloud Pak for Business Automation, for example, provides a low-code studio for testing and developing automation strategies. AI tools provide optical character recognition for documents. The Watson Assistant provides customer care with integrated bots. Teams can iterate over the workflows and explore hypothetical strategies with the Processing Mining tools. All the software can be deployed locally or in IBM’s cloud.

Major features: Deep experience with enterprise workflow; integration with many mainframesMajor use cases: Data capture, scientific process management; business decision automation, front-line customer care


ImageTech Systems makes Kofax, a set of bots for document processing and workflow automation. Its Design Studio offers an IDE for turning code written in Java, Python, or another programming language into instructions for their bots. Some users will want to use its Automated Process Discovery code for tracking existing workflows and producing bots. Code can also be spun off into smaller tools called Kapow Kapplets that handle focused chores locally. All the behavior is tracked with standard analytics and reported through a dashboard so you can watch for robotic glitches. 

Major features: Integration with enterprise content management tools; microapps platform to simplify deploymentMajor use cases: Managing content collections; data pipeline integration


Laiye is another platform emerging from the Chinese marketplace to target retail groups and others with extensive customer requirements. The Automation Creator is a drag-and-drop IDE for turning workflow into Robots that can be deployed and tracked with tools like the Creativity Center. 

Major features: AI-powered chatbots and a cloud-native robotsMajor use cases: The Work Execution System offers general support for document-centric business tasks

Microsoft Power

The Power Automate tool from Microsoft is part of the company’s Power platform for creating apps, virtual agents, and BI reports. The Desktop tool focuses on automating common Windows 10 (and higher) operations while the Cloud tool handles server-side tasks. The user-friendly interface enables everyone to track their workflow and convert it into an automated, editable routine. Power Advisor tracks statistics about performance to locate bottlenecks and other issues. Microsoft is integrating some of its AI into Power. Users can build new Automation scripts with natural language by describing what should happen. (It’s said to be in preview.) AI Builder can also create and deploy models that make predictions and even decisions, taking more work off of users’ shoulders.

Major features: Focus on Windows 10 or 11 platform on the desktop or on AzureMajor use cases: Broad, enterprise-wide empowerment; AI integration

MuleSoft RPA (formerly Servicetrace)

The Mulesoft RPA tool from Salesforce, once known as Servicetrace, is now part of a larger platform for workplace automation and enterprise architecture. The RPA tools use AI and machine learning to help decode documents and automatically collect data. Automation can be scripted with the drag-and-drop RPA Builder, which brings wizard-driven solutions, or collected automatically with RPA Recorder, which watches users to capture repetitive tasks. When the results are deployed with the bot Manager, the system’s vertical scaling enhances parallel operations enabling multiple bots to run simultaneously. 

Major features: AI-based OCR and a good editor encourages development; recent merger will bolster integration with API-based workflowsMajor use cases: Banking, utilities, and other industries with heavy compliance-driven work


The NICE robots are designed to run as supervised assistants for humans or, if they’re competent enough, as unsupervised back-office tools. The goal is “Journey Orchestration” so customers or staff are helped along at each step of the digital pipeline. One assistant, NEVA, is billed as a friendly assistant and “workforce multiplier” for customer service issues. The Scene Composer for the Real-Time Designer can track how clicks and keystrokes interact with web pages. Data from other sources can be gathered through Connectors to standard back-office sources such as SAP, Siebel, and .Net servers. Its CXexchange offers hundreds of extensions and agents that speed integration. CXone, its open cloud platform, helps support this growth around the globe.

Major features: Integration between desktop assistants and server-side backendMajor use cases: Call center automation; customer service tools; speeding workflow by creating robots that first learn by assisting humans before graduating to full autonomy in the back office


The RPA tools from Kryon are now part of the Nintex data automation constellation, creating a complete platform for managing processes and business workflows. Process Discovery helps find the work that needs to be automated and turned into bots that can be deployed and tracked. For document-heavy processes that may require signatures, Nintex’s collection of RPA bots focuses on integration with Office365, Salesforce, and Adobe tools to automate the process of creating documents and signing them in a digitized legal pipeline. The results can run either in the cloud or on premises.

Major features: Tight integration with dominant desktop toolsMajor use cases: Compliance pipelines dominated by documents

NTT-AT WinActor

NTT-AT’s WinActor was built to save Windows users’ time by automating the most common steps. It integrates with major Microsoft tools to build sophisticated workflows by recording user actions. These are turned into scenarios, and users can trigger these scenarios when a new event occurs such as the arrival of an email. A new request for information, for instance, can be turned into a qualified lead for the sales database with a few clicks. A wide variety of supplemental libraries can extend the tool to handle specific tasks such as creating PDF versions.

Major features: Heavy integration with Microsoft toolsMajor use cases: Email processing and database integration; spreadsheet automation


Pega from Pegasystems offers a wide variety of tools that speed up integration and processing for enterprises, including AI classifiers, chatbots, DevOps support tools, and pure RPA. Creating the right automation can begin with Pega’s AI-driven workforce intelligence tool, a bot that installs on desktops to track how people work. This survey will reveal bottlenecks where poor back-end processing can be automated now and in the future. Pega wants to deliver “self-healing” and “self-learning” applications that can use AI and other statistics to recognize new opportunities for better automation. Pega supports common use cases such as reconciling financial transactions and onboarding new customers. The company also offers low-code options for BPM.

Major features: Fully integrated with suite of enterprise tools for developing, deploying, and automating data processingMajor use cases: Regulatory compliance and integration


Juggling documents with Python-based bots on Linux, Mac, or Windows desktops is the main focus of Rocketbot. Text can be extracted using Rocketbot Telescope and then fed into backed data using bots trained by Rocketbot Studio’s drag-and-drop editor. Rocketbot Orquestador will manage them, running them as needed while compiling statistics.

Major features: Python-based botsMajor use cases: Document processing and data extraction

Samsung SDS Brity RPA

Samsung SDS’s Brity RPA is split into three parts. Designer offers drag-and-drop flowcharting for both desktop and enterprise back-end legacy services through a variety of connectors. Bot schedules and runs the various jobs at pre-set times or in response to events, rebooting virtual machines and simulating all events that might be generated by a real human. Bigger, more independent jobs can be split off to run in the Bot processor. Samsung is also integrating a wide variety of AI routines (ML, NLP, visual, and analytic ) and is expanding to deliver collaboration software for teams.

Major features: Aimed at improving industrial and enterprise business flow through automationMajor use cases: Time-saving and quality improvement for enterprise-driven tasks


SAP now offers a Robotic Process Automation option to simplify many of the workflow operations with its software. SAP’s tool can watch current teams to imitate their actions. When it’s done, you can tweak the process in a drag-and-drop low-code IDE. The results are deployed into the SAP environment to live as either attended or unattended bots. Teams that want to leverage the work of others can turn to the SAP RPA store to download bots for common tasks such as unpacking Excel spreadsheets looking for orders to recognize and categorize.

Major features: Integration with the SAP stackMajor use cases: Automating the business processes tracked and driven by SAP

SS&C Blue Prism

SS&C Blue Prism, one of the earliest RPA companies that began in 2012, pushes “intelligent automation” that mixes more AI into the process to simplify scaling and adaptive processes. The emphasis is on using AI and machine learning to “create journeys” for your data as it’s handed off along a chain of bots that often make fully automated decisions through sophisticated machine learning algorithms. You string together a sequence of actions at the beginning, but then each action generates statistics that can be used to train and improve the choices made. The company also maintains a digital exchange where third-party plugins and add-ons can be purchased to extend the powers by creating connections with traditional databases such as MySQL, larger providers such as AWS, and social media outlets such as Twitter.

Major features: Big investment in AI, including machine vision and sentiment analysis for classifying and responding to all messagesMajor use cases: Building a full chain of document and message processing


UiPath offers a full collection of tools for discovering workflows through Process Mining and Task Analysis and turning them an autonomous processes that can be edited and tweaked. These robots are controlled by Orchestrator, which triggers them in response to events while tracking behavior, generating reports, and controlling access where needed for compliance. UiPath is expanding into AI and is emphasizing machine vision tools that can extract information from images or screenshots. These are often focused on OCR to convert letters and numbers into machine-understandable forms.

Major features: Open environment allows integration of VB.Net, C#, Python, and Java code when challenges growMajor use cases: Integration with full legacy stack solutions; transaction processing


The digital workers from WorkFusion come with individual human names and special focuses. Tara, for instance, is a “top OFAC / AML expert who is laser-focused on keeping your transactions risk-free.” Casey is a customer relations specialist who is “obsessed with creating a better, faster customer experience.” Enterprises can begin with them as a starting point or create a custom version that can deploy OCR and some AI to their particular tasks. The digital workers are deployed with Workforce Enterprise to either run autonomously or work as assistants for humans that remain in the loop.

Major features: Digital workers tuned to common roles for RPA and workforce automation.Major use cases: Email and client interaction; task routing

Open source

The major companies are generally selling proprietary tools, although community editions with limited functionality are common. Open-source processes are less cosmmon but you can often accomplish many of the simple tasks by stringing together some open source projects. You are likely going to have to do much more work to train the tools yourself, often by typing code into an editor. Still, they remain an interesting option. Check out Puppeteer, Selenium, and  Headless Firefox for a basic start.

Major features: Full open source access to code; no vendor lock-inMajor use cases: Web integration; data collection; testing and verification
BPM Systems, Enterprise Applications

Data is what drives digital business. Consider how strategically important it has become for companies to leverage advanced analytics to uncover trends that can help them gain decisive insights they might not otherwise possess.

But data-driven projects are not always easy to launch, let alone complete. In fact, enterprises face several challenges as they look to leverage their information resources to gain a competitive advantage.

Foundry’s recent Data & Analytics Study looked into why organizations have difficulty making good on the promise of data-driven projects, and revealed several key roadblocks to success. Here are the top six reasons data initiatives fail to materialize and deliver, as revealed by the research, along with tips from IT leaders and data experts on how to overcome them.

1. Lack of funding for data initiatives

Funding can be hard to come by for any technology initiatives, particularly in an uncertain economy. This certainly applies to data projects. These undertakings might be competing with a host of other initiatives in need of financing, so it’s important for IT leaders and their data teams to present a strong business case for each project, and to not make them overly complex.

“While budget is always tricky, this is a question of priorities and right-sizing the body of work,” says Craig Susen, CTO and technology enablement lead at management consulting firm Unify Consulting. “Looking for obvious outcomes [does not] always require reworking the entire infrastructure.”

Being data-driven is as much a cultural pursuit as it is anything else, Susen says. “It requires designing/rethinking key performance indicators, capturing data in a smart timely manner, landing it in common areas quickly,” he says. “Then it can be evaluated and aggregated, either applying advanced visualization technologies or working it against machine learning algorithms. It’s all a complicated bit of science. Having said that, many companies overcomplicate this process by trying to do too much all at once or over-indexing in places that don’t drive true value to their businesses and customers.”

CIOs and other technology leaders need to develop strong working relationships with fellow C-suite members, particularly CFOs. In many cases it’s the finance executive who makes the decision on budget approvals, so to improve the likelihood of getting the needing funding technology chiefs need to be able to demonstrate why data-driven projects are important to the bottom line.

2. Lack of a clearly articulated data strategy

Lacking a complete data strategy to guide data-driven projects “is like not having an outline to guide a thesis,” says Charles Link, senior director of data and analytics at Covanta, a provider of sustainable materials management and environmental solutions.

“Every project should contribute some paving stones to the road leading to the desired destination,” Link says. “A data strategy identifies how to align information and technology to help you get there. Your business should be able to travel down the road as you deliver value.”

To be successful, a data strategy should have both a data management component — generally IT tools, technologies, and methods — and a data use strategy, Link says.

Oftentimes there isn’t a clear understanding within enterprises of what data is available, how the data is defined, how frequently it changes, and how it is being used, says Mike Clifton, executive vice president and chief information and digital officer at Alorica, a global customer service outsourcing firm.

Companies need to create a common language among stakeholders in advance of establishing any data-driven projects, Clifton says. “If you don’t have a solid foundation, budget and funding are too unpredictable and often get cut first due to a lack of clear scope and achievable outcome,” he says.

3. Technology to implement data projects is too costly

Making the challenge of getting sufficient funding for data projects even more daunting is the fact that they can be expensive endeavors. Data-driven projects require a substantial investment of resources and budget from inception, Clifton says.

“They are generally long-term projects that can’t be applied as a quick fix to address urgent priorities,” Clifton says. “Many decision makers don’t fully understand how they work or deliver for the business. The complex nature of gathering data to use it efficiently to deliver clear [return on investment] is often intimidating to businesses because one mistake can exponentially drive costs.”

When done correctly, however, these projects can streamline and save the organization time and money over the long haul, Clifton says. “That’s why it is essential to have a clear strategy for maximizing data and then ensuring that key stakeholders understand the plan and execution,” he says.

In addition to investing in the tools needed to support data-driven projects, organizations need to recruit and retain professionals such as data scientists. These in-demand positions typically command high levels of compensation.

4. Other digital transformation initiatives took priority

Digital transformations are under way at organizations in virtually every industry, and it’s easy to see how projects related to these efforts could be given a high priority. That doesn’t mean data-driven projects should be put on the back burner.

“If digital transformation efforts are taking priority over data initiatives, then you need to re-evaluate,” Link says. “All digital transformation initiatives should envelope data initiatives. You cannot have one without the other.”

Ignoring the data aspects of transformation could invite failure of other initiatives. “I would be concerned to pursue digital transformation without a solid data strategy, as the results, iterations, and pivots needed to be successful should all be data-driven decisions,” says David Smith, vice president and CIO at moving and logistics company Atlas Van Lines.

“If this is an organizational roadblock, I would recommend using the digital transformation initiative as the genesis of a data strategy execution,” Smith says.

5. Lack of executive buy-in or advocacy for data initiatives

If senior executives are not sold on data-driven projects, their chance of success will likely diminish because of lack of adequate funding and resources.

“Lack of buy-in from the top can kill a data-driven project before it starts,” says Scott duFour, global CIO at Fleetcor, a provider of business payments services. “I am fortunate that isn’t a problem at Fleetcor, as I get buy-in for projects from our CEO by partnering with leadership running lines of business to validate the importance of big data for company growth and success.”

To get executive buy-in, technology leaders must be able to articulate from the beginning what the outcomes of data projects will be and align them to business priorities or pain points, Clifton says. Ironically, all digital-related deployments depend heavily on data to achieve benefits, “so whether or not the executives realize it, they are funding data initiatives,” he says.

The organization’s data strategy should inform executives about how data projects can support the goals of the business. “The data initiatives should focus on the accomplishment of those objectives through actionable intelligence and automation,” Link says.

In some cases, the lack of support might stem from the fact that business leaders do not really know what they want from data projects, and therefore do not understand the value, Smith says. “If they cannot see the value, then they won’t support it,” he says.

It’s a good practice to use small proof of concept opportunities to show the value through operational dashboards or the automation of manual tasks, Smith says. “This will create interest from the executive team,” he says.

6. Lack of appropriate skill sets

The technology skills shortage is affecting nearly every area of IT, including data-driven projects.

“Without enough IT talent and people with the right skill sets, it’s tough to get data-driven projects done,” duFour says. “And the IT employee shortage is real in several areas of IT.” To try to draw technology workers, Fleercor offers flexible working arrangements and provides training so employees can improve their skills.

“We have also cast a wider net in the talent search,” duFour says. “Although a four-year degree or more is ideal, companies should look for potential employees with associate degrees, IT-type certifications, and other pertinent skills that can help move data-driven projects forward.”

Hiring talent with the specific technical experience needed to lead and manage data-driven projects “is a challenge in this competitive job market, but it’s key in ensuring you have the right skills in place to successfully implement the projects,” Clifton says. “Without the right skills and expertise up front, companies can start a project and then run into issues where the team is unable to quickly and effectively identify and resolve the problem.”

Data scientists, data stewards, and data forensics experts are becoming mainstay roles, Clifton says, whereas data architects were the higher-end skills most needed in prior years.

“Affordable talent has been my biggest challenge,” Link says. “There is no one right answer. I have brought in fresh talent from recent graduates and invested time, only to have them poached at crazy salaries. In my experience, there is a lot of value in having people co-located for faster learning and collaboration. My latest approach is to work with organizations like Workforce Opportunity Services to build my own team from high-caliber workers. It will take time to get there but we are focused on the long-term results.”

Analytics, Data Management, Data Science

It feels like just yesterday that we were promised that cloud servers cost just pennies. You could rent a rack with the spare change behind the sofa cushions and have money left for an ice cream sandwich.

Those days are long gone. When the monthly cloud bill arrives, CFOs are hitting the roof. Developer teams are learning that the pennies add up, sometimes faster than expected, and it’s time for some discipline.

Cloud cost managers are the solution. They track all the bills, allocating them to the various teams responsible for their accumulation. That way the group that added too many fancy features that need too much storage and server time will have to account for their profligacy. The good programmers who don’t use too much RAM and disk space can be rewarded.

Smaller teams with simple configurations can probably get by with the stock services of the cloud companies. Cost containment is a big issue for many CIOs now and the cloud companies know it. They’ve started adding better accounting tools and alarms that are triggered before the bills reach the stratosphere. See Azure Cost Management, Google Cloud Cost Management, and AWS Cloud Financial Management tools for the big three clouds.

Once your cloud commitment gets bigger, independent cost management tools start to become attractive. They’re designed to work with multiple clouds and build reports that unify the data for easy consumption. Some even track the machines that run on premises so you can compare the cost of renting versus building out your own server room.

In many cases, cloud cost managers are part of a larger suite designed to not just watch the bottom line but also enforce other rules such as security. Some are not marketed directly as cloud control tools but have grown to help solve this problem. Some tools for surveying enterprise architectures or managing software governance now track costs at the same time. They can offer the same opportunities for savings that purpose-built cloud cost tools do — and they help with their other management chores as well.

What follows is an alphabetical list of the best cloud cost tracking tools. The area is rapidly expanding as enterprise managers recognize they need to get a grip on their cloud bills. All of them can help govern the burgeoning empire of server instances that may stretch around the world.


The first job for Anodot’s collection of cloud monitoring tools is to track the flow of data through the various services and applications. If there’s an anomaly or hiccup that will affect users, it will raise a flag. Tracking the cost of instances and pods across your multiple clouds is part of this larger job. The dashboard produces a collection of infographics that make it possible to study each microservice or API and determine just how much it costs to keep it running in times of high demand and low. This granular detail gives you the ability to spot the expensive workloads and find a way to prune them.

Standout features:

Integrated with a broader monitoring system to deliver better customer experience at a reasonable priceAvailable as a white-label platform for integration and reselling


Tracking and reining in containers in a Kubernetes environment is the goal for Cisco’s AppDynamics, formerly known as Replex. The tool is now part of a larger system that watches clusters in public clouds or running locally to ensure they are performing correctly. Tracking costs is just one small part of a system that is constantly gathering statistics and watching for anomalies. One important reporting process charges back costs to the teams responsible for them so everyone can understand what’s creating the monthly bill. AppDynamics also offers a proprietary machine learning engine to turn historical data into a plan for efficient deployment. A policy control layer offers granular restrictions to ensure teams have access to what they need but are locked out of what they don’t.

Standout features:

Integrates cost management with general application monitoringConnect user experiences and business results for every layer of the software stack

Apptio Cloudability

Apptio makes a large collection of tools for managing IT shops, and Cloudability is its tool for handling cloud costs. The tool breaks down the various cloud instances in use, allocating them to your teams for accounting purposes. Ideally, teams will be able to control their own costs and predict future usage with the reports and dashboards on offer. Cloudability’s True Cost Explorer, for instance, offers pivotable charts to switch between aggregated variables to establish accurate plans and predict future usage. Cloudability integrates with ticketing tools such as Jira for planning and with tracking tools such as PagerDuty or Datadog for monitoring.

Standout features:

Planning future purchasing of reserved instances to lock in savings for the constant demandAllocating upcoming workloads to available instances of the right capabilities


Dashboards created by CloudAdmin are simple and direct. The tool tracks cloud usage and offers suggestions for rightsizing your servers or converting them to reserved instances. Server instances can be allocated to teams and then tracked with a budget. If spending crosses a defined line, alerts are integrated with email or other common communication tools such as PagerDuty to notify personnel of the need for attention.

Standout features:

Carefully filtered data feeds extract the key details about spending to save time wading through too much informationAutomated alerts can stop runaway spending when it crosses thresholds


CloudCheckr focuses on controlling cloud costs and security. The tool is part of NetApp’s Spot constellation for cloud management and is responsible for cost management by tracking standard spending events, such as consumption, forecasting, and the rightsizing of instances. The tool supports reselling for companies that add their own layers to commodity cloud instances. A white label option makes it possible to pass through all the reporting and charts to help your customers understand their billing. There’s also a focus on supporting public clouds used by governments.

Standout features:

Monitor compliance with privacy regulations by tracking security configurationRightsize reserved instances by tracking baseline consumption


Watching over cloud machines, networks, serverless platforms, and other applications is the first job for Datadog’s collection of tools. Tracking cloud costs is just one part of the workload. Its telemetry gathers data about performance and cost, and Datadog builds this into a dashboard to help organizations understand both application cost and performance. The goal is to facilitate decisions about application performance with an eye on the price of delivering it. Understanding the tradeoff can lead to cost savings.

Standout features:

Broad suite for infrastructure monitoring across multiple cloudsMonitoring of real users and simulated users make it easier to deliver a better user experience


Densify builds a collection of tools for managing cloud infrastructure by juggling containers and VMware instances. The best way to run your clusters, according to Densify, is to keep precise, meticulous records of load and then use this data to scale up and down quickly. Densify’s optimizers focus on cloud resources such as instances, Kubernetes clusters, and VMware machines. Densify suggests this approach improves scaling by 30%. Densify’s FinOps tool generates extensive reports to help keep application developers and bean counters happy.

Standout features:

Track loads on machines to ensure rightsized instance allocationBuild reports summarizing consumption to help developers rightsize hardware

Flexera One

The Flexera One cloud management suite tackles many cloud management tasks, such as tracking assets or organizing governance to orchestrate control. An important section of the suite is devoted to controlling the budget. The tool offers multicloud accounting for tracking spending with elaborate reporting broken down by team and project. Flexera One also offers suggestions for optimizing consumption by targeting wasteful allocations, and it provides automated systems to put these observations into practice. The tool also integrates machine learning and artificial intelligence to help analyze consumption patterns across multiple clouds.

Standout features:

Integrates reporting across multiple clouds to help business groups understand costsIdentifies options for rightsizing instances and eliminating wasteful spending


DevOps teams can use the CI/CD pipeline that’s the central part of Harness to automate deployment and then, once the code is running, track usage to keep budgets in line. Harness’s cost management features watch for anomalies compared to historic spending, generating alerts for teams. A feature for automatically stopping unused instances can work with spot machines, effectively unlocking their potential for cost savings while working around their ephemeral nature.

Standout features:

Deep integration with the development pipeline to make cost savings part of the software creation processAutomated compliance integrates cost management with regulatory and governance work


Teams that rely on Kubernetes to deploy pods of containers can install Kubecost to track spending. It will work across all major (and minor) clouds as well as pods hosted on premises. Costs are tracked as Kubernetes adjusts to handle loads and are presented in a unified set of reports. Large jumps or unexpected deployments can trigger alerts for human intervention.

Standout features:

Optimized for tracking how Kubernetes deployments affect costsDynamic recommendations track opportunities for lowering spending


DevOps teams rely on ManageEngine to track a range of potential issues from security to API endpoint overload. Its CloudSpend tool will extract data from cloud spreadsheet bills and aggregate it to provide a useful, actionable level of understanding. Costs can be charged back to the specific teams, and ManageEngine’s predictive analytics will plan reserved instances based on historical data. Currently available for AWS and Azure.

Standout features:

Spend Analysis drills down deeply into the data to granular detailMulti-currency support for worldwide deployment

Nutanix Xi

Organizations with large multicloud deployments can use Nutanix Cost Management (formerly Beam) to track costs across a range of installations, including private cloud machines hosted on premises. The tool can be customized to generate accurate cost estimates of private installations by taking into account heating and cooling costs, hardware, and data center rent. This makes it easier to make accurate decisions about allocating workloads to the lowest-cost deployment. The process can be automated to simplify management and forward-planning for budgeting for reserved instances.

Standout features:

Metering of private clouds builds direct insight into the costs of on-prem hardwareBudget alerting and dynamic optimization help rightsize consumption to minimize costs


Teams running extensive collections of microservices rely on ServiceNow to manage some of the stack. Many of the tools are customer-facing solutions like IT automation, but there are also more backend tools for optimizing IT operations by intelligently managing performance. Newer AIOps can deliver artificial intelligence solutions too.

Standout features:

Broad selection of tools for tracking and optimizing IT assetsRisk management well integrated with governance tools


IBM relies on Turbonomic to deliver an AI-powered solution for managing deployment to match application demand with infrastructure. The tool will automatically start, stop, and move applications in response to demand. The data driving these decisions is stored in a warehouse to train the AI that will be making future decisions. The latest version includes a new dashboard and reporting framework based on Grafana.

Standout features:

Full-stack integrated graphics to understand demand and cost across an applicationDesigned to automate resource allocation to save engineering teams from the chore

VMware Aria CloudHealth

VMware built Aria Cost and Aria Automation under the CloudHealth brand to manage deployments across all major cloud platforms as well as hybrid clouds. The cost accounting module tracks spending, allocating it to business teams while optimizing deployments to minimize costs. The modeling layer can build out amortization and consumption schedules to forecast future demand. Financial managers and development teams can drill down into these forecasts to focus on specific applications or constellations of services. The larger product line integrates the cost management with automated deployment and security enforcement.

Standout features:

Spending governance ensures that teams are following individual budgets for resource consumptionIntegrate cloud costs with business metrics and key performance indicators to understand the connection between computational costs and the bottom line


Much of the responsibility for cloud costs comes from the engineers who write and deploy the code. They make the granular decisions to startup more instances and store more data. Yotascale wants to put more information in their hands to enable them to optimize their hardware consumption with tools designed to track machines and allocate their costs directly to the teams responsible. The forecasting tools can also spot anomalies, raising alerts to prevent any surprise bills at the end of the month.

Standout features:

Engineer-targeted tools deliver budget information directly to the teams building the software and starting up the machinesAutomated tracking delivers forecasts and flags problems and overconsumption


While many cloud managers offer insights through sophisticated reports, Zesty is designed to automate the work of spinning up and shutting down extra instances. A key feature enables it to watch the spot market for deeply discounted instances with excess capacity on the cloud. It offers a tool informed by artificial intelligence algorithms that can work with AWS’s API to make decisions that keep just enough machines running to satisfy users without breaking the budget. The tool can even control the amount of disk space allocated to individual machines while buying and selling processor time on the spot from reserved instance marketplaces.

Standout features:

Deep management of details such as storage space allocation to minimize costsIntegration with spot market to take advantage of the lowest possible costs
Cloud Computing, Cloud Management

The new year brings familiar problems for cities around the world. Many countries are still facing a multitude of crises: climate change continues to accelerate, economies are under pressure, and consumers are coping with inflation and skyrocketing energy bills.

But a new year also brings a renewed sense of optimism and fresh focus. Innovators are constantly discovering new ways in which IoT technology can help address difficulties and solve a number of problems both immediately and in the long term.

Here are the top 5 IoT sustainability trends to look out for in 2023:

1. LEDification of public lighting

Switching traditional lighting to LED is not a new concept, but the immense energy-saving benefits continue to be either misunderstood or overlooked. Most people are now aware that LED lighting is more energy-efficient than conventional lighting – at least 50% more efficient, in fact – but the full potential of what can be achieved remains unrealized.

For a start, connecting LEDs and managing them via a software-based lighting management system increases energy savings up to 80%. Cities account for 78% of global energy consumption, with 40% of that being lighting related. If every city in the EU27 switched to energy-efficient connected LED, the member states would save enough energy to power 55 million electric cars every single year.

But energy savings are just one side of the coin. The scenario described above would generate cost savings of over €65 billion. Imagine how much good that money could do for families struggling to stay afloat.

These are lofty figures, and perhaps too big to fully comprehend. But even if you scale the scenarios down, the potential is too obvious to ignore. Switching all lighting to LED in a city of 200,000 inhabitants, for example, would prevent around 18,000 tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere per year – roughly the amount of carbon sequestered in a year by 850,000 trees.

Switching to energy-efficient LED is truly the most immediate and significant impact you can make in the fight against climate change.

2. Increased funding opportunities for infrastructure projects

City budgets are tight. Whether it’s the strain of post-pandemic regeneration or the global impact of the war in Ukraine, many economies are at the breaking point. City decision-makers may have the ambition to develop and improve their infrastructure, but without funding it’s simply not viable.

Luckily, governments are starting to take action. Slowly but surely, funding programs are being established that promise to support infrastructure projects and help cities achieve the goal of becoming sustainable while at the same time improving the health and well-being of citizens.

Take the EU Green Deal, which pledges to make trillions of euros available for cities looking to enhance the energy efficiency of their public buildings, improve mobility, or create jobs for future generations. In the US, the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) represents the single largest investment in climate and energy in American history, enabling America “to tackle the climate crisis and advance environmental justice.” The ASEAN Infrastructure Fund has been launched in Asia.

All of this means that as cities start to consider how they can modernise their infrastructure and explore IoT solutions to help in the fight against climate change, funding is one less barrier to overcome.

3. More accessible EV charging

The transportation industry has set itself the target of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. It’s an ambitious goal, and one which appears even more daunting when you consider that 72% of all transport-related greenhouse gas emissions come from cars and trucks. There are billions of vehicles on the roads, so how do you radically reduce their emissions? By going electric.

EV adoption has picked up pace in recent years, but the scarcity of charging stations around cities and towns is a serious stumbling block. Consumers value convenience, and the uptake of EVs will stall if they make it more difficult to get from point A to point B than their gas-guzzling predecessors.

Where does IoT technology fit in? For a start, connected LED streetlights can be designed to serve as vertical digital assets for cities to deploy connected capabilities – from public broadband access points to EV charging points built directly into light poles. Electricity savings from both LED street lighting and smart buildings can help balance the increased electrical load, keeping costs low and avoiding the need for additional power generation.

4. Banning of conventional fluorescent lighting

The EU has passed legislation that prohibits the use of conventional fluorescent lighting. The ban has been a long time coming—not only are fluorescent bulbs outdated and inefficient, but they also contain harmful materials like phosphorus and mercury. With the ban comes into effect in early 2023, the shift to energy-efficient LED is set to accelerate even more than it has over the last two decades.

Sometimes doing the right thing is a matter of not having the choice to do the wrong thing. The paradox of choice theory states that rather than providing freedom, having too many options actually complicates the decision-making process and causes more stress in the long run. The EU’s banning of conventional fluorescent lighting has removed that choice from building owners and city decision makers, steering – or rather forcing – them to explore LED lighting as not just the better option, but the only option.

The anticipated surge in LED usage means increased opportunities for connected lighting and IoT solution providers, as thousands of businesses and cities look to retrofit their existing lighting.

5. The year of the smart city — finally?

It feels like we’ve been predicting the new era of smart cities for almost a decade, but is 2023 finally the time that IoT technology adoption in cities explodes?

Smart cities do not only focus on making life comfortable for people — they improve the social, environmental, and financial aspects of urban living. And as city populations grow, smart cities will become a key ingredient in improving sustainability and quality of life.

IoT and smart city technology is developing rapidly. But as with every high-growth market, regulation and certification often has had to play catch-up. Only relatively recently have industry-wide standards, best practices, and coordinated initiatives begun to mature. In tandem with a general increase in experience and expertise, it should now be easier to recognise what a smart city is – and, crucially, what it is not.

AIoT, the combination of AI technology with IoT infrastructure, is promising to accelerate things further. Right now, IoT infrastructure requires a level of human monitoring and management. Imagine how efficient our cities could run with AI pulling the strings. Smart city experts anticipate AIoT solutions to emerge for managing energy and other resource distribution, traffic and other public service management, waste management, and more —all in the near future.

Learn more about IoT systems for smart cities here.

Renewable Energy

First Tech Credit Union is a San Jose-based financial institution with more than $16 billion in assets. As the eighth largest in the country, it primarily serves tech companies and their employees, but still has a lot of manual processes in place.

“We’re very early in our automation journey,” says Mike Upton, the organization’s digital and technology officer.

First Tech had been deploying some robotic process automation, trying to replace paper forms, as well as using for other automations. But these efforts all fell short.

The first problem was many of the bank’s processes cut across organizational and technological silos. Its existing point automation solutions were often unable to do the hand-offs.

For example, the process to send a domestic wire involved 105 different manual steps. “When we started mapping all that, we realized how many touch points and hand-offs there were.”

So First Tech began a new approach last summer using a low-code automation platform from Pegasystems. The vendor was selected specifically because of its cross-silo capabilities. But having the right technology in place wasn’t enough.

In some cases, even when the processes were well documented, one department might not fully understand how their workflow impacts another team, Upton says.

“The technology is very powerful, but the way people think is very challenging,” he says. “They’re comfortable with what they know. Having to re-imagine, re-engineer and re-think processes turned out to be one of our biggest challenges.”

In addition to the hand-offs, the credit union sometimes had to get everyone’s agreement on whether to automate at all.

“There were challenges getting the different business team partners to agree on where automation could be applied and where they had to have manual controls in place,” he says.

And there were many things that could’ve derailed the project that had less to do with technology and more with business processes, change management, and controls.

“Thankfully, we were able to avoid complete catastrophe,” he says. “But we’re seeing this more frequently as we take on other RPA projects.”

Eventually, the drawn-out wire process was cut to just five steps, saving hundreds of labor hours. The bank also reduced average call handling times by 40% and eliminated all data entry errors by auto-filling forms with relevant case data. That time saving now allows employees to focus on higher-value tasks, and help the credit union grow without needing to add additional staff in a tight labor market.

But First Tech is not unique. Issues like these are common to most companies embarking on automation journeys.

The who, what, and why of automation

According to a 2022 survey by Salesforce and Vanson Bourne, demand for automation by business teams has increased over the last two years, said 91% of respondents. And according to Gartner, the RPA software market grew 19.5% last year compared to 2021, and is expected to grow 17.5% in 2023. And by 2025, 70% of organizations will implement full automation in infrastructure and operations, an increase from 20% in 2021.

But automating a bad process can make things worse as it can magnify or exacerbate underlying issues, especially if humans are taken out of the loop.

In some cases, a process is automated because the technology is there, even if automation isn’t required. For example, if a process occurs very rarely, or there’s a great deal of variation in the process, then the cost of setting up the automation, teaching it to handle every use case, and training employees how to use it may be more expensive and time-consuming than the old manual approach.

And putting the entire decision into the hands of data scientists, who may be far removed from the actual work, can easily send a company down a dead end, or to end users who might not know how automation works, says James Matcher, intelligent automation leader at Ernst & Young.

That recently happened at a company he worked with, a retail store chain with locations around the US.

The retailer approached people on the front lines, and employees and managers working on the shop floors, for suggestions about manual processes that should be automated.

“They ended up with a long list of use cases along the lines of, ‘How do I upload this Excel spreadsheet,’” says Matcher.

But these were minor issues that didn’t scale across the whole operation.

“These were little tactical things that you couldn’t repeat,” he says. “So there was no definitive value coming out the back end of the exercise.”

So they spent six months going to individual stores getting ideas, wasting thousands of hours before deciding on a different approach of putting together an internal lean team, bringing in consultants, and taking a holistic, role-based approach to automation.

“We spent about four months during the persona-based mapping,” says Matcher. “That was quite a rigorous exercise to get right.” Then came two months for designing the technology, and the first use cases went into production three months later.

After all, customers have a wide range of demands and each needs different kinds of help—and different kinds of automation to serve their needs that might involve actions by different employees or different corporate systems.

Other tasks currently handled by employees could be replaced by self-service tools. For example, a customer looking to return a product could start the process on their smartphone app, eliminating the need for excessive manual data entry.

“We went through the process of matching customer personas and employee personas, and got a huge amount of optimizations,” he says.

One key factor to set up the right automations is to match them to the right business objective. For example, companies looking to automate in order to reduce headcount or labor costs might miss the main objective: to improve customer service and grow the business.

Matcher says he recently saw this happen with another client, a manufacturing company looking to reduce the number of customer service representatives with automation.

The business unit started the automation process last spring, then went back to the CFO for additional funding to continue the project in the summer because they were able to free up several thousand person-hours.

“And the CFO says, ‘I don’t see any adjustment in your headcount in the new budget,’” says Matcher. “‘Where’s all the money I spent?’”

In fact, the customer service reps used the time they saved to cross-sell and up-sell customers, and double their revenues.

“Ultimately, the gross margin level is more beneficial to the organization,” says Matcher. “But if we hadn’t shown the bridge between the two, they probably wouldn’t have continued the automations in that domain. They would have looked at the ROI and stopped the program.”

The when and where of automation

When it comes to automation, people become more important, not less. Forgetting this can be a big mistake.

“You have to put in a lot of conscious thought,” says Sanjay Srivastava, chief digital strategist at Genpact.

By automating simple, repetitive processes, enterprises still need human experts to handle complex and unusual cases, requiring upskilling. But more than that, automation can enable new business activities. For example, someone working in accounts receivable may spend less time generating routine invoices and more on solving customer problems. But they’re also in a position to recognize that a customer is spending more than usual and may be ready to buy additional products or services than they were before. That will require a different set of skills.

“The operating model has to change, and that’s a bigger question about business management,” says Srivastava. “We all know it’s easy to get software implemented, but it’s hard to get business outcomes achieved. There’s a big journey between the two and we mustn’t fool ourselves that we’ve achieved results just because we got the software.”

There are only so many productivity gains remaining to be made, he adds. But there’s unlimited growth potential in finding new business opportunities made possible through automation.

For example, companies can use automation to improve existing service offerings. “If you improve the stickiness, you improve the durable advantage and your competitive position,” says Srivastava. “And that gives you the ability to have a more sustainable business in the long run.”

Next, you can use the improved relationships with customers to expand products and services or create new ones, and to cross-sell customers.

“Then, you’ve expanded your revenues,” he says.

In addition to that, there are also other downsides to removing humans from the loop prematurely.

Many models, for instance, require human supervision and training to fine tune and improve them, says Craig Le Clair, VP and principal analyst at Forrester Research, Inc., and author of a recent report about the perils of automation.

In December, for example, Hertz agreed to pay $168 million to settle disputes related to false theft reports. Customers would return a car late, Hertz’ automated systems would report the car stolen, and the next person who rents that car would be arrested for vehicle theft.

There were more than 360 legal claims filed against Hertz by customers related to such false arrests. In one case, according to law firm Pollock Cohen LLP, a NASA employee was pulled over, surrounded by police with guns drawn, and arrested in front of co-workers.

“Here’s an area where they removed humans in the loop prematurely,” says Le Clair.

Another example of too much automation was Zillow’s plan to value homes with AI and make purchase offers they called “Zestimates.” When the offers came in too high because, say, there were undisclosed problems with leaky basements, human sellers would jump on it, and Zillow wound up with too many bad bets. When the AI erred the other way and offered payments that were too low, buyers would naturally go elsewhere to sell their house.

“If you had a crack in your foundation, the algorithm wasn’t going to pick up on that,” says Le Clair. “You certainly can solve a lot of problems by keeping humans in the loop.”

So companies can have too much confidence in data and algorithms, he says. Just look at the online chatbots without human backups.

“You don’t have an easy escalation,” he says. And when there are humans online to take over when problems arise, the systems often lose context of the conversation and the customer has to start over with the agent. “So we don’t do human well, and that’s a critical element as we move forward.”

In fields like medicine and finance, there are regulatory restrictions to automation, says John Carey, MD in the technology practice at consulting firm AArete.

“There will be a high watermark for some automation because the legal framework needs to evolve,” he says.

But even in industries without heavy regulations and compliance requirements, companies should keep an eye on ethics and standards when it comes to rolling out automation, especially when new technologies like OpenAI’s ChatGPT are making AI tools dramatically more intelligent and capable. “These smart tools are fantastic,” says Carey. “But the challenge for us is to be aware that they are double-edged swords. We have to figure out how to use and leverage them in ways that are legitimate, and build solutions that are ethical for clients and end users.”

Data Center Automation, IT Leadership

Welcome to 2023. As the new year arrives, CIOs are facing a challenging to-do list as they strive to maximize IT productivity and efficiency in increasingly unpredictable times.

As technology projects, budgets, and staffing grew over the past few years, the focus was on speed to market to maximize opportunity, says Troy Gibson, CIO services leader at business and IT advisory firm Centric Consulting. This is no longer true. “As the economic pendulum shifts to cost control, CIOs will have to find ways to continue achieving the same results but with less margin for error,” he notes. “How well teams execute will be key.”

Responding to both old and new challenges, IT leaders must reassess their business and technology strategies and, when necessary, realign them to address rapidly evolving business and economic concerns. The following eight priorities are gaining the most attention.

1. Building resiliency

Resiliency will be a top priority for many CIOs this year as they face a possible recession and ongoing labor shortages. “Technology will play a pivotal role in building resiliency, since it’s entrenched in every aspect and rung of an enterprise,” says Peter Kirkwood, principal consultant at Zinnov, a global management consulting and strategy advisory firm.

Critical IT skills, especially in cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, have long been in short supply, and the current labor shortage is intensifying the need for such professionals, Kirkwood notes. “Building resiliency with technology will enable a CIO to think beyond their own team and help them address this challenge for the company as a whole,” he says. “Having the right technology can create a ripple effect, empowering employees, which enables satisfaction and a superior experience.”

2. Improving business intimacy and alignment

Business intimacy enables CIOs to increase their relevance, enhancing their ability to deliver business value. IT leaders can improve business intimacy by bringing new skills and operating processes to the executive table, says Juan Perez, CIO and executive vice president at Salesforce.

CIOs should begin the process by fully understanding the priorities, pain points, processes, investments, and technologies their colleagues are dealing with. “It’s critical that CIOs are aware of everything that’s taking place across sales, service, marketing, commerce, IT, HR, finance, and more,” Perez says.

Increasing business alignment while driving efficiency and productivity with automation and AI tools are important goals in any economic environment. “However, they are especially important as CIOs help guide their enterprises through challenging times,” Perez notes.

3. Rationalizing the technology estate

Over the past decade, enterprises have rapidly added powerful technology and cloud-based services to their portfolios. At the same time, they have been much less likely to retire the legacy systems these new tools were meant to replace, creating a complex web of redundant applications and systems, warns VMware CIO Jason Conyard.

There’s an industry-wide push to reduce technical and data debt and reallocate those resources toward building the future, Conyard says. “CIOs will be looking to rationalize their technology estate to reduce unnecessary cost and maintenance, and to minimize their security attack surface and privacy exposure.”

4. Aligning on business goals

There must be open, transparent, and collaborative working sessions to create alignment on how technology capabilities can be deployed to meet enterprise goals, states Bill Cassidy, CIO at New York Life Insurance. “All participants need to demonstrate strong communication skills, including effective listening, to properly weigh the pros, cons, and tradeoffs of one path of execution versus another,” he adds.

Cassidy notes that when working with colleagues it’s important to “keep a thoughtful end-state in mind” before adding or changing technology ecosystem elements. “Achieving this clear end-state vision requires deep and successful business and technology alignment,” he says.

5. Monetizing data insights

Organizations that can successfully act on their data insights will thrive, says Dan Krantz, CIO of electronics test and measurement equipment manufacturer Keysight Technologies. To achieve this goal, “CIOs need to treat the assessment and analysis of data as a scientific discipline,” he advises.

Krantz suggests that IT leaders should seek Ph.D.-level talent while embracing the latest data mining, data analysis, and analytical tools. He also believes that CIOs should create solutions featuring low-code extensibility, an intuitive user experience, and abundant APIs for maximum composability. “From a people perspective, analytical and quantitative skills are now more pressing than software engineering skills,” Krantz states.

Krantz warns that IT leaders who fail to embrace scientifically-obtained data insights will remain mired in an Excel wormhole. “The negative financial and competitive consequences … will be difficult to escape,” he says.

6. Embracing digital transformation

CIOs in 2023 will need to continue driving enterprise digital transformation, says Elizabeth Hackenson, CIO and senior vice president at energy management and automation firm Schneider Electric.

“At Schneider Electric, we’re focused on transforming our sales tracking processes as well as HR,” Hackenson says. “It’s about being a partner in the business, moving toward greater resiliency, sustainability, and customer value through the adoption of simplified, modern CRM, ERP, and HR systems.” Hackenson believes that her organization’s cloud transition, combined with advanced digital technologies, will lead the firm to a new generation of smart, cybersecure factories and distribution centers.

Hackenson believes that a resilient, future-ready supply chain is driven by efficiency. “Digitization is also essential for achieving sustainability goals across business operations,” she says. The key to success, she notes, is maintaining a close partnership and alignment with all business functions, as well as placing customers and employees at the heart of every digital transformation effort. “It’s also essential to find the right partners who share an agile mindset and commitment to sustainable change.”

7. Modernizing cyber defenses

To defend against emerging cyber threats in 2023 and beyond, IT leaders should consider increasing their investments in IT modernization, says Phil Venables, CISO of Google Cloud.

The increased malicious activity observed in 2022 is no surprise and will only continue to grow in 2023, Venables predicts. “Cyberattacks aimed at a company’s networks can have severe consequences, ranging from financial losses or liability to eroding an organization’s reputation.”

In a modern IT environment, security should be a built-in infrastructure element, not an add-on. “Even with short-term challenges, the long-term benefits of IT modernization are paramount and key to mitigating evolving cyber threats,” Venables explains.

Venables believes that legacy IT presents a significant challenge to security teams. “It’s important to recognize that governments and enterprises cannot modernize their security without modernizing their infrastructure and software development practices first,” he says. “Without a continued focus and investment in IT modernization, organizations will not be able to realize the full benefits of the advances in security.”

8. Preparing to do more with less

A top priority in 2023 should be leveraging technologies that will allow the enterprise to move faster and nimbler, says Nicolas Avila, CTO for North America at software development firm Globant. The challenge is finding ways to achieve these goals in an era of constricted budgets.

Budgets are being slashed across industries, Avila notes. While IT is generally not as affected as many other sectors, given technology’s importance in maintaining competitive success, CIOs still face the need to get more done within a budget that may not allow all goals to be achieved.

Avila believes there will be a significant focus on cost optimization via technology in 2023. “Not only will this allow enterprises to save limited resources, but it will also enable them to redefine business processes to make work less complicated and more in line with what the labor market will be,” he says.

The key to surviving in the year ahead, Avila says, will be to become lean without losing essential capabilities, enabling the enterprise to rebound faster and stronger from the economic shakedown that many observers see coming in 2023. “The reality is that the world is continuing to move faster and faster, and CIOs need to lead the way in making sure their enterprise can match that pace, from customer experience to operations to employee engagement,” he says.

IT Leadership, IT Strategy

Three years ago, IT leaders were squarely focused on how to adopt fledgling AI techniques and approaches into their business models in service of digital transformations that included plans for shifting some workloads to the cloud. But then the pandemic hit, requiring a historic pivot that set some best-laid plans aside and accelerated others. Now that organizations have returned to a new (somewhat) normal, CIOs appear to be focused on getting back to basics — and untangling tech debt incurred in making it through the past few years.

Recruiting, retainment, and yes, adoption of lead-edge technology, are back on the radar of IT leaders. And while their staffs are more distributed than ever, these leaders are committed to making positive changes in workplace culture, including diversifying their workforce, and creating a post-pandemic work dynamic that enables their colleagues to connect with one another across distances to do their best work.

But doing so means navigating new — or more intensified — challenges in the coming here, not the least of which is a global economy facing a likely downturn. Here’s how IT leaders plan to address the biggest issues they expect to face in the year ahead.

Economic uncertainty

Organizations are concerned about multiple economic forces that are all causing uncertainty, says Srinivas Mukkamala, chief product officer at Ivanti.

“Business leaders are figuring out how to weather a post-pandemic soft economy, looming recession, and inflation,” Mukkamala says. “How do you future-proof your business in the face of so much uncertainty? One thing that is clear is we will need to partner and work across industries to solve truly big problems that all organizations are facing.”

Grace Liu, senior vice president of IT for Seagate Technology, says the shifting economy can offer a chance to be opportunistic. 

“We need to improve overall performance while we adapt to the changing business environment,” Liu says. “The good news is that, for managers, the best time to attract and retain talent is during economic downturns. Hiring and retaining the best people with the right skills is always the best strategy to improve overall performance.”

Some of the issues related to the Great Resignation have stabilized, says, Elizabeth Hoemeke, CIO of One Inc., and in terms of certain aspects of recruiting, she also sees the glass as half full. 

“The recent layoffs and hiring freezes by the big tech companies have leveled the playing field somewhat,” Hoemeke says. “That’s allowed smaller tech startups to compete for the significant talent that these workers have and can provide.”

The need to grow smartly

Gil Westrich’s company, ClearML, is benefiting from increased adoption of artificial intelligence and machine learning (ML) technology. But the CTO and co-founder says that scaling to meet that demand presents its own challenges, which require self-reflection.

“How do we grow our business responsibly?” he asks. “How do we get the talent we need? Given how competitive the technology and associated talent market is, companies have to clearly map out their plans for business growth, ensuring they are as comprehensive, considered, and responsible as possible. We want to make sure our roadmap is robust.”

Tyler Derr, chief technology officer at Broadridge Financial Solutions, is also concerned about how to address challenges that come with growth.

“Recent market volatility has added to the complexity of delivering high-quality products and services,” Derr says. “Organizations will need to consider when and how to invest in proprietary innovation or partner with industry-outsourced solutions balancing cost and speed to market, while bringing to life a robust digital roadmap with clear and actionable objectives and key results.”

Making remote work rewarding

University of Phoenix CIO Jamie Smith says the institution, in part because of its commitment to online learning, is fully dedicated to a remote workforce, including IT. But creating a strong work culture in a remote world requires an intentional approach that goes beyond what was sufficient when everyone was working together in person, he says. 

“We hold regular virtual and in-person events designed to build and enhance our feeling of belonging and culture,” Smith says. “Since 99% of our students attend online, our new way of working has increased a deeper level of empathy for the need to create connection and engagement in a remote environment.”

Laserfiche CIO Thomas Phelps’ firm made the call to close its offices on Mondays and Fridays after reviewing data that showed the fewest number of employees were in the office on those days. 

“Closing our offices made sense to conserve energy costs and give people flexibility to come into the office any day from Tuesday through Thursday,” Phelps says. “Most departments try to have employees work a day or two in the office and schedule weekly team meetings in person if they are close to a physical location. This helps to foster collaboration and mentorship that is aligned with our culture and values.”

Prithvi Mulchandani, vice president of IT business applications at Deltek, is focusing on finding ways for remote tech staff to engage and collaborate with one another better. 

“We need to be prepared to help our employees be productive from any location — getting them the right tools and then ensuring those tools work for them no matter where they are located,” Mulchandani says. “CIOs and IT teams can support their teams by implementing and upgrading tools such as hoteling cube reservation systems, in-office audio and video conferencing solutions, and employee social recognition platforms.”

Rising costs

John Reeher, CIO and CISO at EstateSpace, says his organization made capital investments earlier in the year, reducing some sticker shock from inflation. But other areas of the business, he says, will still face challenges related to widespread rising prices.

“Inflation is a major issue for CIOs both in direct costs and labor,” Reeher says. “Technically just to keep employees salaries in line with the cost of living, they need an 8-9% raise. Inflation ties in to retention. There are other companies out there willing to pay more to your employees, because of a labor shortage. As an industry we’ve set a bad precedent: If employees want a raise, they change jobs. A hot job market and inflation make it more likely for your best employees to be poached.”

Talent arms race

Talent recruitment is challenging every year, but University of Phoenix’s Smith, like others we talked to, says he’s seeing more digital talent on the move, driven by near-term economics, making it difficult for IT departments to retain their best workers.

“Even on the doorstep of a potential economic downturn, we are seeing people leave for 40-60% more than market salaries across all technical disciplines,” he says. 

Smith suggests that organizations need to create an employee-first culture to help retain their top performers. “Giving our best engineers meaningful problems to solve and an environment where they can do their best work has never been more important,” he says.

Attracting, engaging, and retaining talent to fuel growth will continue to be challenging in the next year, agrees Dudek CIO Brian Nordmann.

“We are in the midst of a highly competitive job market,” Nordmann says. “But simply making sure you offer competitive compensation isn’t enough. Keeping staff engaged by ensuring a sense of community with their peers and providing them with interesting and rewarding work is critical in retaining top talent.”

Worker burnout

Laserfiche’s Phelps is also concerned about the increasing number of tech workers suffering burnout. He says many people don’t realize the increased stress on IT teams that began during the pandemic and continues today due to the increased IT demands of their remote colleagues. 

“Not only do you have to continue providing the same services for people who are fully remote or fully in person,” he says, “but now you have to sustain a collaborative work environment that combines elements of both and provide a rich, multi-architecture environment.”

Phelps gives the example of businesses that want to use both Teams and Zoom, and have those platforms interoperate with conference room AV devices, which are not typically Zoom or Teams-native, he says. “Our support teams are constantly fine-tuning our tech stack and configurations to make sure the experience is fairly frictionless for employees and doesn’t impede their productivity,” says Phelps.

Managers can help by setting expectations for stressed-out IT staff who need downtime, says Cassandra Brown, Bitly’s vice president of engineering. “Have managers and leaders model for their teams by taking time for themselves and encouraging paid time off, mental health days, and meeting-free days.”

The need for more diverse teams

Diversity remains an issue in the IT industry, especially as diverse teams have been shown to produce better outcomes. But the work of diversifying the mix of IT workers remains challenging, especially given previously mentioned pressures on the tech talent market. And that work goes beyond getting new talent in the door, extending also to creating a culture and employee experience that ensures all IT workers feel comfortable and productive and are motivated to stay.

For some organizations, establishing new relationships can help. Bitly’s Brown, for example, says her company is working to address a lack of diversity in its tech workforce in part through external partnerships.

“To be more intentional about diversity, equity, and inclusion, we start in the community,” Brown says, including working with organizations that offer developer training for women and underrepresented groups. “We also will continue our commitment to the success of our employee resource groups, pay equity, and diverse candidate sourcing.”

Security threats

Matt Mead, chief technology officer at SPR Consulting, expects increasingly sophisticated security threats in the next year.

“There is a clear trend that ultimate security responsibility is falling on the shoulders of CIOs and CISOs, so they’ll need to continue to look for ways to raise security posture without breaking the bank,” Mead says. “Don’t just focus on security personnel and tools; focus on the low-hanging fruit that can solve larger security issues, such as providing rigorous and ongoing security awareness to your entire organization. Your security posture is only as good as your weakest link, which is almost certainly your employees.”

Making the most of what the cloud offers — without breaking the budget

Mike Albritton, senior vice president of cloud at CData, says even for data-driven businesses, migrating certain business needs to the cloud can be daunting. Albritton says his company largely managed their business needs on-premises, but in the past two years have moved more of their business operations to the cloud.

“Despite being a business built to solve the challenges of digital transformation, we also face the typical challenges surrounding cloud migration and adoption,” Albritton says. “Because we’ve been able to slowly ramp up our cloud strategy — and use our own data connectivity solutions to make the process smoother — we’ve been able to take most things one step at a time.”

And doing so is beginning to pay off.

“By incrementally implementing best practices like real-time data access, user permissions for various platforms, and cloud data warehousing, we’ve come to a place where those processes are now built into our foundations,” he says. “Our IT teams and individual team leaders can ensure that everyone has access to the data they need from the platforms they’re already using, minimizing disruption to operations and making it easy for lines-of-business employees to continue performing their day-to-day tasks.”

But with inflation and other factors pushing cloud providers to increase their prices in 2023, IT leaders must beware of budget creep. Cloud migrations can also be lengthy — and hefty — initiatives, leaving organizations waiting months or years for the promised ROI of a shift to the cloud to pay off, all while the meter runs. Balancing the finances of a cloud migration and contending with rising cloud costs will be a significant issue for organizations in the year ahead.

Budgeting, Cloud Computing, Diversity and Inclusion, Hiring, IT Leadership, IT Strategy, Staff Management