The role of the CIO within an organisation has undergone significant change over the last few years, with a turbulent economic environment, seismic shifts in technology that afford new opportunity, and with it new threats.
There is now a commonly-held view that the CIO should take a lead in sharing and implementing tactics that encompass the business as a whole, rather than concentrating predominantly on the IT side of things.
And while every major organisation is different, looking ahead to the rest of 2015 and beyond there is likely to be substantial overlap in strategic priorities for CIOs in each. So what are these areas of focus likely to be?
Further Savings Must Be Made
Although the green shoots of recovery seem, for now, to be starting to flower, the global economy is a long way from being out of the woods.
Many businesses are still looking to cut costs wherever possible, and as ever, IT will be expected to pick up the slack. Scope for increased cost efficiency exists across the tech spectrum, from using providers such as 1e.com to provide clarity over the reams of software that has been installed across a major organisation over the years, much of which is redundant yet still being paid for, to identifying business applications and processes that can be safely moved into the Cloud.
There are of course multiple areas throughout an organisation that can have fat trimmed off, but technology is often seen as the way to do that.
Shared Responsibility For Security
The threats to security are so real, so widespread, so diverse, and so potentially damaging, that every facet of an organisation, from those on the executive level down through the ranks such as suppliers, and customers, have a role to play in protecting it. The buck stops with the CIO, so it is their responsibility to ensure that everyone knows how and why they should be aware of potential risks.
Technology can only do so much, and when one considers the array of tools that determined, professional hackers have at their disposal, the effectiveness of IT security can be somewhat limited. That’s especially the case when human behaviour can be flawed. Basic, practical steps such as drumming in the importance of secure, regularly-changed passwords, and protecting home computers when they have links back into the organisation, are just as vital as in-house monitoring and defensive software.
Cyber-Threats Are Only Going To Increase
The danger posed by corporate cyber-threats should by now be obvious – one need only look at the fallout from the Sony hack that has already seen one high-profile exec fall on her sword, and several film promotions go badly off the rails. In fact cyber-security was one of the main topics of discussion at the recent Davos Summit, and it seems that top-level executives are now starting to heed the warnings and understand what’s at stake.
For the CIO that’s on the ball, a cyber-attack is seen as a when-event, not an if-event, and they need to have a plan in place to deal with it.
Everyone, Everywhere, All The Time, Online
The time of the Internet of Things has arrived. Levels of connectivity are unprecedented, and organisations need to adapt to this fact and be prepared to take advantage, or face being left behind. CIOs of major organisations need to ensure that the business is present and operational across multiple platforms, languages, time zones, cultures and devices. Providing a reliable and easily-navigable online user experience trumps everything.
Big Data Will Keep Growing
One of the major challenges of the last decade has been the huge volumes of data available – IBM was estimating 2.5 billion GB a day back in 2012 – what it is now is anyone’s guess. While storage isn’t such a major issue anymore, analysing it and serving it up to the relevant department in the most usable format remains a huge challenge.
The CIO is uncomfortably aware that even the largest organisations will necessarily be forced to ignore large swathes of data that’s coming in, and that somewhere amongst all that information may be the answer to a critical problem.