The pandemic has shown us that technology is an important part of modern enterprises. It has also brought to the forefront the importance of the work of a Chief Information Officer (CIO).  

The success of an organization in part depends on how a CIO carries out their functions. They need to manage IT operations and leverage technology, to benefit the business. This is because technology is at the forefront of trends and has a direct impact on the success of any organization. In this article, we will take a step further into organizational growth by analyzing the top CIO challenges of 2021.

Who Is A Chief Information Officer (CIO)?

This is an executive that finds ways that a company can leverage technology to their benefit. The growing influence of technology in industries has made the role of a CIO now very important. 

First, you must deal with the exploration of growth opportunities. You will also find ways for the enterprise to adapt to evolving trends.

A good example is how the work from home policy became popular due to the pandemic. A  CIO survey shows how companies now focus on work from home experience to grow their business. Also, he or she builds the digital platform and fixes the operating model of the enterprise. You can use the company’s customer service and technological prowess to outperform rivals. 

A 2020 survey shows how improved customer experience drives digital transformation efforts. So, it is important to improve the new and existing products of your enterprise. 

Top CIO Challenges Of 2021

Controlling everything that has to do with tech in an organization is not a walk in the park. It comes with a lot of hurdles. Here are some top CIO challenges projected for 2021:

#1. Cybersecurity and Privacy Issues

Hacking into a secured facility is no longer a sophisticated art. Many individuals can easily access a remote facility and carry out an illegal act from the comfort of their homes.

Though hackers have existed since the establishment of the internet, the number of cases of cyber attacks and hacking is on the increase.

In 2021, the number of cases is expected to increase significantly except the organization beefs up security. According to a study, 68% of business leaders feel their cybersecurity risks are increasing.

Mobile technology is one of the biggest security threats. Mobile phones are still evolving and this makes them a prime target for hackers.

For instance, while downloading an app, there is usually no way to verify the security of these apps, hackers often use the opportunity to tap sensitive information from a device.

The CIO needs to control the use of outside tools within the work environment. For example, at Old Mutual Wealth, certain tools — Facebook, Dropbox, LinkedIn’s, and a few others are on the not-suitable-for-work list. 

Also, hackers are learning new tricks, and organizations must catch up with the trend. Continuous improvement of the existing control framework is critical, including network defenses, anti-phishing, malware, and physical controls

#2. Ensuring Digital Collaboration

A whole lot of organizations now have some of their employees working from home. The good news is that it reduces the cost of maintaining the office, and the bad news is that it has made teamwork and collaboration very essential in business.

You must ensure that there is a working system to promote teamwork and collaboration especially in this era where remote work culture is slowly creeping into many organizations.

The CIO must provide answers to what I call necessary questions to guide the company’s digital collaboration philosophy. Some of these questions include –

  • Is the company’s remote-access infrastructure robust enough to handle remote work?
  • Are business applications cloud-ready?
  • Can your collaboration solutions cope with a massive explosion in traffic volumes as users switch to virtual collaboration solutions?
  • How secure is the dispersed office environment?

Once he has practical answers to this question, the company can be sure of a safe digital collaboration.

#3. Prioritizing Customers Experience

One of the crucial challenges for CIOs in 2021 is ensuring that they deliver great customer experiences. They must work collaboratively with the chief marketing officer CMO to co-design a friction-free customer experience.

The CIO must find a balance between accelerated Saas adoption which was necessitated by the outbreak of the pandemic, and security measures.

A very strict working culture automatically reduces consumer satisfaction. It is bad for the user experience.

CIOs must be willing to adopt agile practices and update their digital strategies frequently. You have to make people at all levels feel empowered.

The CIO must find a way to deliver customer satisfaction and the organization’s goals simultaneously.

#4. Securing and Training IT talent

Talent within a company is the core of any successful operation. Sadly, securing and maintaining existing talent is not always easy.

It is worse when you discover that hiring a new IT talent expert is not very easy to come by.

As technology continues to emerge rapidly, the ability to acquire and hire more skilled, technical roles will become a key concern in 2021. 

CIOs are expected to develop diverse career paths so that the top talent can advance in their areas of strength.

#5. Budgetary Planning

It’s no news that business in 2020 was affected by the outbreak of Covid19. This has altered many company’s revenues and has resulted in a slash in their budget.

While many companies aim on tightening their IT budget in 2021, others aim to spend more on technology to achieve smooth remote work. 

Many organizations are planning on making work-from-home a permanent concept in 2021 and beyond to upgrade IT. 

Almost every IT firm has limited resources compared to the company’s demand. This means CIOs must decide what initiative should be funded and those that should be rejected.

However, they will have to spend more and wisely on security as well as the safety of their employees which is in line with the Covid 19 safety protocol.

In addition to this, they must develop an IT strategy that’s directly aligned with the enterprise’s strategic goals. 

#6. Lack of Agility

Agility is the ability to move with ease or being active. CIOs can not afford to remain on one project for more than 12 months.

The competitiveness of companies in the technology-related world is determined by how flexible they are in computing resources and adapting to new ones, as well as the ability to scale existing technology. 

Companies should be able to deploy new digital packages as often as possible.

Final Thoughts

2021 is going to be hard on CIOs, concerning work. This is because the role is crucial to the growth and development of any organization. 

We have highlighted some top CIO challenges of 2021. Also, there are pointers in this article to maneuver the situation and make it work. 

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