5 (more) big challenges facing CIOs and IT leaders in 2015

EducationSummary: As business technology goes through a fundamental shift, the role of the CIO is changing. In the coming years, CIOs will face new challenges and take on new roles. The most successful CIOs are those that recognize and adapt to these changes. In this second part of our 2-part article, we explore 5 more challenges that CIOs must face in the near future.

Business technology is undergoing a major shift. Mobile continues to grow. The cloud is gaining steam in the business world. Data is growing by leaps and bounds.

Thanks to all of these trends, the role of the IT department is changing. CIOs and IT leaders face evolving challenges.

As we head into a new year, what challenges await CIOs and IT leaders? In the first part of this 2-part article, we explored these 5 challenges:

  • Challenge #1: Address the growing need for agility
  • Challenge #2: Break free from technical debt
  • Challenge #3: Balance data accessibility with security
  • Challenge #4: Adapt to a connected world
  • Challenge #5: Bridge the skills gap

Today, let’s go a step further. What other issues must CIOs and IT leaders address in the coming year? Here are 5 more IT challenges heading into 2015:

Challenge #6: Bring “Shadow IT” out of the shadows

photo credit: PublicDomainPictures via pixabay cc

photo credit: PublicDomainPictures via pixabay cc

In a growing trend, more end users are bypassing the IT department–opting for third-party, cloud based solutions. The reaction from many IT leaders: War! This is a problem that must be stopped…right?

Yes and no. On one hand, it opens the door for security breaches. If the IT department doesn’t know where the data is stored, how can they control it?

But, on the other hand…it also forces a difficult question: Why do end users want to bypass the IT department in the first place? Learn why employees feel the need to circumvent IT in the first place…and then you’ll better understand how to control (or even harness) it.

“IT can positively impact the business in 2015 by bringing “shadow IT” out of the shadows and into the open across the enterprise IT landscape,” says Brian D. Kelley, Chief Information Officer of Portage County. “By leveraging the technology that business units and users sorely need to be more efficient and benefit the bottom line, IT can take a leadership role in reducing the risks and hidden dangers inherent with the unstoppable force of shadow IT by bringing it into the open. This will require better aligning the business with IT, improving communication with managers, and reducing the complexity of IT procurement . In the 21st century, IT is all about focusing on people, aligning IT with the business, delivering superior customer service and IT support to end users, working with management to decrease costs and increase efficiencies, and successfully interfacing people with technology.”

Challenge #7: Address the cloud decision

With all of the press surrounding cloud computing, you’d think that it’s taking over the business world. You’d think that businesses are rushing to move everything to the cloud.

Not so fast.

In reality, we’re seeing a mix of in-house apps and cloud apps. Businesses are moving some apps and services to the cloud, but keeping others in-house.

This trend will only grow. We’ll see more businesses balancing the public cloud with the private cloud. The challenges and questions facing CIOs: What should they move? Do they build out their own private cloud, or buy an on-premise infrastructure?

“2015 is the year where IT executives are going to be forced in making a choice regarding private cloud computing,” says Chris Ciborowski, Founder and Managing Partner of Nebulaworks. “Today, many organizations have dipped their toes into the cloud, primarily solving single issues by employing Software as a Service (SaaS). Low hanging fruit, for example desktop backup and archive, document management and e-signing, are easily implemented. However, to fully adapt to the needs of the business – primarily mobile services and flexible, scalable web applications with data centricity challenges – organizations will look to build on-premise clouds. In doing so, IT leadership is faced with a significant challenge: To buy a product, such as a commercial distribution of OpenStack and therefore potentially compromise flexibility with architectural decisions which have been made to address the market a vendor is targeting. The other option, is to architect and build their own clouds by employing open source software, opting for non-commercial support. The latter, providing increased flexibility and agility. Either way, the private cloud is forthcoming…the question for 2015 is buy or build.”

Challenge #8: Integrate disparate technology

photo credit: kenteegardin via photopin cc

photo credit: kenteegardin via photopin cc

The cloud question facing CIOs is more complex than “which apps should we move to the cloud?” As more businesses opt for a mix of in-house and cloud apps, they face a bigger challenge: How can they tie everything together?

“[The challenge is] deciding how to adapt to cloud technologies, determining how to deploy their applications to the cloud while also maintaining in house infrastructure and building integration,” says Shaw Drummond, VP of Solutions and Services, The Intersect Group. “The issue is, many companies require on-premise technology and therefore must integrate to the cloud. In order to blend these architectures, companies must have sophisticated enterprise tech teams.”

Challenge #9: Provide a singular experience across multiple platforms

The web has moved beyond the confines of the PC. When a user visits your site or web apps, you can’t predict which device they will use. These days, your web site and your web apps must deliver the same experience across all platforms. They must adapt to any device.

“The biggest issue I foresee for CIOs going into 2015 is maintaining a singular customer experience across multiple platforms,” says Filiberto Amati, International Business Consultant, Innovator and Founder of Amati Associates. “Today, businesses are mobile – customers can connect with them on their phones, laptops, PC, social media, business website, etc. Businesses should strive for customers to have a similar experience regardless of how they are connecting. Branding guidelines should remain consistent and should be considered as part of the overall mobile strategy.”

Challenge #10: Deliver solutions quickly

photo credit: Nathan E Photography via photopin cc

photo credit: Nathan E Photography via photopin cc

As mentioned in this article, we’re entering an era where application development plays a crucial role in innovation. According to one Forrester study, “The software you deploy, and especially the custom software you create, will increasingly be part of your competitive edge.”

As end users and customers expect fast solutions, CIOs and IT leaders must adapt. They must abandon the lengthy development cycles of the past, and adopt more agile development methods.

“Mobility and cloud are driving expectations in software development,” says Ryan St. Hilaire, VP of Product Management, Absolute Software. “End users demand simplified user experiences and rapid delivery of new features. IT organizations will be asked to develop custom applications with rapid iterations and continuous delivery. IT leaders must adopt an outside-in approach to meet these expectations. They must move away from traditional waterfall development processes towards agile development process, focus on UX, and create a library of patterns to continuously improve UX (Documentation should become a thing of the past).”

So, what do you think? Is there anything you would add to this list? If so, please share your thoughts in the comments.

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