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As CIOs See Expanding Roles in Customer Experience, Security Must Keep Pace

By George V. Hulme on Mar 23, 2020 | 0 Comments

Let’s face it: CIOs are quite busy as they drive forward with their digital transformation efforts, build their DevOps teams, and continue their work to ensure that their business-technology systems are aligned with business needs — and somewhere within all of that work they have to find a way to keep these systems secure.  

Consider the recent IDG 2020 State of the CIO survey. This survey took a look at current CIO agendas, and found that CIOs are at least trying to stop having to put out technological fires and take a more strategic view in the years ahead. According to IDG, for the past decade, the majority of CIOs focused on transformational efforts — this year that figure fell below 50% at 42%. Perhaps transformational efforts are currently being led by chief data officers.

The activities CIOs will focus include refining the business strategy for their organization, create new go-to-market plans, and drive business innovation.

A significant portion of CIOs (45%) spend the majority of their time on security management, which proved to command more of their time than aligning IT initiatives with business goals (44%), improving operations and performance (42%), and even the implementation of new systems and architectures (39%), managing business innovation and leading change efforts (34%).

Interestingly, it is improving the customer experience and ranked as the second more important spending priority for the year ahead, among both heads of IT and line-of-business managers. And it will be technologies that focus on customer experience that will drive the third-most investments, such as mobile apps and chatbots. Improving collaboration among business departments is another major driver.

The IDG survey echoes responses from the 2019 Harvey Nash / KPMG CIO Survey. That survey found that 44% of respondents expect to fundamentally and quickly change their product, service offerings, or business model. And it was true of businesses large and small.

The 2019 Harvey Nash / KPMG CIO Survey found that IT leaders are enjoying the largest increases to their technology budgets in 15 years. Much of the spending will focus on cost-cutting initiatives, such as task automation. When it comes to security, what was most concerning with this survey, is that 63% of organizations said that  a good chunk of their enterprise technology is managed well-beyond the oversight of their IT department.

The 2019 Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey, conducted between December 2018 and April 2019 across 108 countries, is based on the responses of 3,645 CIOs and technology leaders. 

While it’s still debated whether automation and AI will be a net displacement for workers, enterprises certainly plan on relying on both to help close their perceived skills shortages. The 2019 Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey found, like many surveys, that respondents report very high levels of skills shortage. Those skills are the most in demand include data analytics (44%), cybersecurity (39%), and artificial intelligence (39%).

Finally, respondents surveyed who consider their organizations to be digital leaders (those who see themselves as ‘very effective’ or ‘extremely effective’ at using digital technologies to advance their business strategies, performed better than their competitors on every aspect surveyed.

According to the survey, digital leaders outperformed in time to market (53% vs 34%), customer experience (65% vs 49%), revenue growth (55% vs 43%) and profitability in the previous year (50% vs 37%). Digital leaders, the survey said, are also more likely to introduce ‘major new changes to products and services’ in the next three years (55% vs 39%) and focus on profitability.

In addition to focusing on more strategic customer-facing initiatives, CIOs report that they will also be spending more time on cybersecurity (64%), data privacy/compliance (49%), operations (36%) and business development (36%).

Of course, all of these new technologies will create new risks and it’s imperative that not only is the organization aligned when it comes to IT and its business technology, but also aligned when it comes to its cybersecurity. Customer-facing apps and providing customers access to more apps and data, and the move to cloud, and increased use of robotic process automation will all dramatically increase cybersecurity risk. The question remains whether CIOs and their organizations will put in the effort necessary to make certain that risk is properly mitigated.

 

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Author: George V. Hulme

George V. Hulme is an internationally recognized information security and business technology writer. For more than 20 years Hulme has written about business, technology, and IT security topics. From March 2000 through March 2005, as senior editor at InformationWeek magazine, he covered the IT security and homeland security beats. His work has appeared in CSOOnline, ComputerWorld, Network Computing, Government Computer News, Network World, San Francisco Examiner, TechWeb, VARBusiness, and dozens of other technology publications.