Businesses around the world are making massive changes to the way they do business and how they deliver new services and customers as they continue to adapt to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, recent market changes are sharpening companies’ focus on the bottom line and delivering practical value, rather than just expanding the customer base.
As a result, in 2022, CIOs must balance two sometimes competing needs: supporting new services to gain a competitive advantage and driving down costs.
One solution for many companies is to move more core business applications to the cloud and consolidate their tech stacks to increase efficiency. Moving systems to the cloud also promises to open up new analytical possibilities and give companies better insight into uncertain economic conditions.
The result is that in 2022, CIOs are under pressure to find technologies that can support business agility.
Here are nine key trends and priorities CIOs need to address in 2022.
1. Adoption of a single technology vision
Sush Apshankar, principal adviser on technology modernization at technology research and advisory firm ISG, expects more CIOs to develop a unified technology vision. This will bring about a change in the way many large global companies have historically dealt with acquired companies and with multiple divisions, which should allow them to retain their own technology stacks. In 2022, CIOs will increasingly be tasked with consolidating these tech stacks to improve business performance.
“Establishing a unified technology vision is easier said than done,” Apshankar said. CIOs must work closely with C-level and other executives to define which technologies (for cloud environments, ERP systems, business intelligence (BI) platforms, and CRM tools) will be the mainstay of the organization. Legacy and legacy technologies will be integrated into these core technologies.
The challenges are manifold. Each cloud, ERP, BI and CRM system has its own advantages. The teams and lines of business that used legacy systems need to be trained on new systems. Data migration and systems integration require time, effort and specialist knowledge.
2. Prepare for next-generation technology services
CIOs are also laying the groundwork for adopting a variety of promising technologies at varying stages of maturity. These include next-gen analytics, IoT, Metaverse, and Web 3.0.
“In our experience, most organizations are running multiple parallel initiatives on the future state of technology services, ranging from operational efficiencies to the metaverse environment,” said Apshankar.
When reviewing these emerging technologies, CIOs must consider the potential they offer for cost savings and new monetization opportunities related to offering better customer experiences. But that can be a tricky balancing act.
“When companies focus on multiple technology initiatives, they lose momentum and efficiency,” Apshankar said. The CIO must direct the company’s resources so that all of these technology initiatives are seamlessly woven together and implemented before they lose impact.
3. Exercise tax caution
At the same time, the uncertain economic climate will spur CIOs to prioritize cost management initiatives in 2022, including cloud spend analysis and ROI analysis.
“CIOs must quickly shift their organizational focus from large-scale technology investments to value-based technology investments and revenue management of technology services,” Apshankar said.
Cloud platforms, BI tools and CRM systems have increasingly relied on pay-per-use models in recent years. Apshankar recommends CIOs and their teams review the ROI they are getting from these platforms. They should also explore using data monetization tools to generate additional revenue from the large swathes of company, product, supplier, and customer data they sit on.
4. Use of the cloud for core business applications
Early cloud implementations typically included cutting-edge new applications, and now the rest of the company is starting to catch up, said Colin Dawes, chief solutions architect at Syntax, an IT consulting service.
“For 2022, CIOs will encourage increased cloud adoption for the core business applications of CRM/SCM/ERP/HRMS and other line-of-business applications, marking a change from the cautious approach of previous years,” Dawes said.
At the same time, applications focused on new technologies and digital transformation, such as B. IoT, increasingly cloud-native, along with a cloud-first mentality for business analytics.
The primary benefit of moving core business applications to the cloud is increased visibility of accurate and reliable information about the business that is presented in a timely, efficient and cost-effective manner. “The need for this type of technology has become even more critical in recent years due to the pandemic,” Dawes said.
5. Adopting the cloud to support a distributed workforce
The growing number of people working from home and in distributed scenarios is also forcing CIOs to invest more in cloud infrastructure to support this dispersed workforce.
“With more people working from home than ever before, we will continue to see a trend toward cloud migration and, in most cases, a multi-cloud architecture,” said Jamshid Rezaei, CIO at Mitel, a contact center services provider .
The increasing reliance on the cloud in remote work environments means CIOs must closely manage their cloud architecture to ensure it is secure and provides a seamless experience for end users. CIOs need to ensure that both employees and end customers can work securely and reliably with data stored in multiple locations.
6. Building a culture of digital collaboration
The COVID-19 pandemic has dispersed the workforce and spurred the adoption of new work-from-home practices on a large scale. Even as many workers return to the office, CIOs have an increasing role in supporting a hybrid workflow that includes home, office, and distributed workers. Now, the demands of an increasingly dispersed workforce require CIOs to adapt and adopt leadership roles when it comes to making critical business decisions related to employees, office space and other investments.
“A top priority for CIOs in 2022 is the culture of digital collaboration, or identifying the tools and systems their organizations need to sustain remote and hybrid workforce collaboration despite growing economic uncertainty and tightening budgets” , said Randall Ward, CEO and co-founder of Appfire, an app integration service.
Increasingly, CIOs are being challenged to demonstrate that their organizations’ remote working capabilities are equal, if not superior, to working in the office. This will allow managers and executives to view new distributed approaches to work as a valuable addition to the office rather than an emergency measure as was the case during the pandemic. That means putting collaboration and access to the systems you need at the heart of the workplace experience—regardless of where an employee works.
7. Development of a unified data management architecture
Bhrugu Pange, managing director of the digital and technology practice at AArete, a management consultancy, said that in 2022, CIOs will need to develop a cohesive data governance architecture. A big driver is the increasing offering of SaaS, PaaS and cloud platforms as companies update their technology stack and data platforms. Orchestrating the underlying data is critical to delivering the right information to applications, platforms, employees, customers, and other stakeholders.
A variety of middleware platforms are beginning to address aspects of data orchestration. But none currently handles all use cases around transactional, analytics, data science and streaming, Pange said. He expects that more CIOs will develop a coherent data management architecture that positions the various tools – middleware, traditional ETL/ELT tools, data lake(house)s, messaging applications, reverse ETL and cloud data warehouse – in a modular, streamlined and secure manner fashion to address these use cases.
Pange recommends that CIOs develop a flexible design over the short to medium term, acknowledge the technical debt of fast-moving technology projects, and create a recovery plan. “The alternative is an explosion of data silos, asynchronous applications, an untrustworthy environment where every fact has to be checked multiple times, and dissatisfied voters,” Pange said.
8. Exploring new data analysis
CIOs also need to explore how new data analytics technologies can provide a faster and more accurate picture of the organization, Rezaei said.
“We now have the opportunity to gain a deep understanding of a variety of attributes from new and emerging analytics tools, and there is so much we can now leverage to drive innovation and growth within our organizations,” he said.
Rezaei said his team is exploring different ways to use analytics to strengthen the company’s own business performance. They also work with global partners to ensure end customers can use analytics for their own benefit.
9. Challenge the ever-expanding role of the CIO
In recent years, CIOs have focused primarily on backend IT services. But in 2022, expect the CIO’s role to become even more complicated and come with higher expectations overall.
“Recently, we’ve seen mission creep and executive eagerness to take on new projects shape the role of the CIO,” said Dan Priest, Cloud and Digital Leader at PwC. “This is ultimately a good thing, as it positions CIOs as more prominent and strategic members of the C-suite.”
Executives are beginning to recognize that the right technology is an essential part of defining a business strategy and, in turn, has the potential to drive new business models. CIOs are now collaborating with their C-suite peers to execute these new business strategies and make critical decisions about their technology investments.