Summary: As technology evolves at an ever-increasing pace, it brings major challenges to the IT department. Modern CIOs and IT leaders must recognize and prepare for these challenges if they hope to remain competitive in the coming years. What challenges can we expect in 2019? In this article, we examine 5 more challenges facing CIOs and IT leaders next year.
The responsibilities placed on the modern CIO and IT Leader are rapidly changing. Gone are the days of simply “keeping the lights on.” They must innovate. They must stay ahead of the tech curve. The most successful CIOs are those that recognize and adapt to constantly changing trends and challenges.
What challenges should you expect in the coming year? In the first part of this article, we explored 5 big challenges that CIOs and IT leaders will face in 2019:
- Preparing for the voice revolution
- Security and Customer Privacy
- Capitalizing on your data despite growing regulations
- Attract and retain the right skills
Today, let’s take things a step further. Here are 5 more challenges to expect in 2019.
Managing people in a time of rapid change
We’re in an era of major technological change. More companies are going through a digital transformation–adapting their technology and processes to operate in a digital world.
What’s the most challenging aspect of this transformation? People. After all, digital transformation isn’t a small change. It often means that employees operate differently. It means they must learn new tools and technologies. It means they must change.
This article in Forbes sums up the digital transformation challenge perfectly: “The innovation benefits of these technologies will only be successfully leveraged if the transformation programs also succeed in changing people and their mindsets.”
The problem: People hate change. They get comfortable doing things a certain way. When they hear that they have to learn new skills or processes, many will fight it. This is one of the biggest challenges facing the modern CIO in the coming years.
“I’ve been to several Tech conferences recently in Chicago and Cleveland and what I’m hearing is essentially the same as what I was experiencing internally as an HR Leader,” says Dana Deibel, MBA, SPHR, Founder & Head of HR Consulting, EverRamp LLC. “People. People are the biggest challenges set to impede transformational efforts, and it’s an area that doesn’t come naturally for most Tech Leaders.
How can CIOs address this issue? They must become masters of communication. They must be able to bridge the communication gap between the technical team and the business.
Balancing governance with self-service
In the past, the IT department was the technology gatekeeper. They governed technology and data access. They controlled which software made its way into the business, and who had access to that software.
Now, that’s changed. With the rise of easily accessible cloud solutions, self-service tools have exploded in the business world. More and more, business units purchase and use software on their own–behind the IT department’s back.
Why does this happen? I won’t get into all of the reasons here, as it’s a topic that we’ve covered in two previous articles:
- 7 reasons why end users bypass the IT department
- 5 (more) reasons why end users bypass the IT department
As mentioned in the first article, the most common reason for Shadow IT is speed. IT doesn’t offer solutions quickly enough. In a world where users can download software or apps in minutes, they are less likely to wait around for a solution from IT.
Of course, this creates security risks. When employees (or entire departments) purchase and use third-party solutions, IT has no way of managing and securing that data.
Both the IT departments and the business leaders are realizing that neither option is good. The business can’t go back to waiting on IT for all technology needs, yet they can’t bypass IT altogether.
What’s the answer? These two options will merge into a controlled self-service approach. The challenge for CIOs and IT leaders: Balance governance with self service. Give users self-service options they need to create/access their own solutions while controlling data and user access.
Become the “Chief Integration Officer”
Over the past few years, we’ve seen a couple of huge trends emerge:
First, business software and technology has become simpler and more accessible than ever before. As mentioned above, the modern CIO is less of a technology gatekeeper and more of an enabler.
Second, businesses are moving away from monolithic software applications and towards a la carte offerings. Rather than purchasing a single solution for everything, they’re opting for software that serves specific functions.
As a result, the CIO’s focus is shifting towards integration. They must integrate disparate software applications across the business into one cohesive system. On top of that, many businesses still run on legacy systems. How can the modern CIO tie everything together?
“It’s almost 2019. Most companies have already invested in several technologies (often spread out across different departments.),” explains Faith Kubicki, Content Marketing Manager for IntelliChief. “That’s all well and good, but if these different systems aren’t connected, there’s a lot of effort wasted as a result. We’ve noticed tech leaders focusing heavily on integrating all of their separate solutions so that they can share data in real time, avoid redundant work, and eliminate duplicate processes. How CIOs can address this challenge: Take the time to decide which legacy systems they plan to keep using over the next several years – across every department of their organization. When the time comes to add new technologies, make sure that potential additions can seamlessly integrate with all of their existing investments.”
Preparing for the AI revolution
Artificial Intelligence (AI) isn’t a new technology by any means, but we’re finally seeing widespread business applications. It is is one of the fastest growing (and most disruptive) IT trends these days.
According to Gartner, “59% of organizations are still gathering information to build their AI strategies, while the remainder have already made progress in piloting or adopting AI solutions.”
How will AI touch your business? From marketing to IT to HR and everything in between, AI will impact all aspects of your organization.
How can AI change your business? While the list could be much longer, Artificial Intelligence can help with:
- Cybersecurity: It will help companies predict and prevent cybersecurity attacks before they happen.
- Analytics: It can take your analytics past historical reporting, and into the predictive realm.
- Marketing: AI will take marketing personalization to a whole new level.
Over the next few years, AI will continue to grow and dramatically change the business landscape. The challenge facing CIOs: Figuring out how to capitalize on the benefits of AI before their competition.
Getting ready for the impact of 5G
5G is the next big thing in mobile. How will it impact the business world? I won’t get into all of the details here, as there are whole articles written on 5G’s business impact. In short, 5G makes wireless networks much, much faster.
But, I don’t think people realize just how big it will be. 5G is just the tip of the iceberg. Once it’s deployed, it will trigger a series of trends.
First, 5G will lead to an IoT explosion. With faster download speeds, we’ll see massive growth of connected devices.
Next, this influx of additional data will drive the need for edge computing. This article in NetworkWorld sums it up perfectly: “The influx of additional data – which will need to be processed in real-time – will drive the need for edge computing. Recognized by many as the next significant enterprise tech trend after cloud computing, edge computing refers to infrastructure that enables data processing as close to the source as possible. It allows for faster processing of data, reducing latency and improving customer experiences.”
On top of all of this, the explosion of connected devices will lead to more cybercrime in the IoT world. As explained below, this will lead to greater security focus on IoT and edge computing.
“There are already some 3.6 billion devices that are part of the Internet of Things,” says Adnan Raja VP of Marketing for Atlantic.net. “This number will skyrocket when 5G technology is released sometime in 2019. Edge computing is the great equalizer for overworked data centers across the country. The relative lack of security in place for most IOT devices makes it a must to equip edge computing with adequate security to keep data secure and devices corruption-free.”
In short, 5G’s rollout in 2019 has far-reaching implications for business. CIOs and IT leaders must understand exactly what it is, how it will impact their business, and how their company needs to adapt.
These are just a few challenges to address in the coming year, but the list could be much longer. Would you add anything to this list? Feel free to comment below!