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5 Key Priorities That Are Top of Mind for CIOs in 2016

CIOs and their IT organizations are faced with endless demands on their time and resources, so it’s critically important to focus on identifying and solving the big issues that really matter most to them. With over 1200 customers around the world, Actifio’s customer success team is in regular communication with IT leaders and their teams as they work together to address their biggest technology and business concerns. Combined with these interactions, we’ve explored the latest industry research and discovered the top priorities and areas of concern for CIOs around the world in 2016.

Deploying a Hybrid Cloud

Not to be glib, but most CIOs aren’t considering a Hybrid Cloud solution because they believe in IT diversity or think it would be more productive to disrupt their currently stable IT environment. Reducing IT costs and improving performance is a business requirement, so more CIOs are actively embracing the short term and long term cost savings and ROI associated with deploying a hybrid cloud strategy.

cio_spending_imgHybrid Cloud offers a lot more flexibility to save money based on its ability to expand capacity and performance when needed. Cloud strategies are looking more like a safe bet in an unpredictable economy where more CIOs are tasked with getting the most out of their technology budgets. Today, senior IT management has no choice but to carefully scrutinize future CAPEX expenditures for hardware to see if a Public or Hybrid Cloud solution would be the better option to help reduce or eliminate those escalating infrastructure costs. Whether it’s best to adopt a CAPEX or OPEX model for their business is the question CIOs must answer in 2016.

Preparing for the Worst

“Once-a-century” devastating events like the most recent Pacific Tsunami or Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy are becoming so much more common they now seem to be recurring on a more “annual” basis. Whether CIOs are faced with the prospect of natural disasters, unplanned outages or manmade catastrophes, their frequency and intensity seem to be on the upswing and the ability for IT to respond rapidly and effectively to these issues is even more critical.

According to Jonathan Feldman, CIO for the City of Asheville, NC, in a recent InformationWeek backup strategy survey, only 23% of business technology respondents are extremely confident they could get their business up and running again in a reasonable time frame after a major disaster that takes out their main data center.

As a result of this gap in preparedness, more CIOs are now hyper-focused on identifying the most efficient Disaster Recovery strategies to ensure minimal downtime or business disruption and plans that enable employees to work remotely during the recovery process by relying more heavily on cloud services, remote access and virtualized environments.

Digitalization or Die

It’s no mistake that companies and CIOs who have adopted a digital transformation strategy continue to change industries and take leadership positions away from incumbents and competitors. Industry observers don’t have to look very hard to recognize the countless examples of these data-centric business success stories. For example, the world’s largest car service doesn’t own any vehicles (Uber); the world’s largest operator of room rentals doesn’t own any hotel properties (Airbnb); the world’s biggest movie content provider owns no theaters (Netflix); and the world’s biggest retailer owns no brick and mortar stores — yet (Amazon). If you are a CIO, you see a disruptive but very promising trend developing with more and more businesses focused on the upside potential of digitalization and relying more heavily on technology to get there.

To this end, digital transformation and evolving into a more data-centric organization will continue to drive the agenda of the most progressive and advanced CIOs. Gartner’s recent 2016 CIO Agenda Survey: Building the Digital platform, highlights the trend that digitalization is intensifying. According to Gartner’s data, in the next five years CIOs expect digital revenues to grow from 16% to 37%. Similarly, public sector CIOs predict a rise from 42% to 77% in digital processes. If CIO’s are unable to harness the power of digitalization, they risk losing revenue opportunities, market share and retaining the world-class IT talent which is rapidly gravitating to those organizations focused on exploiting digital platforms throughout all aspects of their business.

Security overtakes Privacy

Many industry watchers automatically associate security and privacy as two common goals for CIOs and their teams. Despite the fact that they share a common goal in keeping sensitive company data protected, security is often regarded as a technology or software initiative and privacy is more often aligned with company policy-making related to their employee and customer data. TechTarget recently published CIO survey results around security and privacy, underscoring that while security continues to be a top priority for CIO’s, privacy concerns fall to the bottom of their list of focus areas. This insight highlights the important distinction that security and data control is all about preventing unauthorized access to company systems and data while privacy hinges on the policies that set limits and disclosures related to personal information about customers and employees. For now it seems CIOs will continue to keep security projects high on their priority list, but let privacy fall into the jurisdiction of their business policy-makers.

“I” in CIO now stands for Innovation

Many of the change factors outlined in this blog, from digital transformation to security to hybrid cloud adoption, are rewriting the traditional rules of IT and the CIOs in charge need to quickly innovate and adapt their approaches if they hope to have any chance of helping their companies keep pace and remain competitive over the long haul.

Because of the rapid rate of change in enterprise IT, CIO.com recently made the bold prediction that 2016 would usher in the era of the “New IT.” According to Amit Pandey, CEO of Avi Networks some of the key drivers of “new IT” will include CIOs becoming more app-centric and empowering application owners to own IT; data centers starting to evolve and look more like public-clouds; CIOs shifting capital expenditure budgets to operating expense models; and preparing for more frequent cyber attacks, data breaches and unplanned disasters.

The common denominator for CIO’s to successfully make the shift to the “new IT” is to break with the past, identify relevant next-gen data-centric management models designed from the ground up to protect, access, and move data through it’s full lifecycle, and not just remain hinged to the status quo approaches architected decades ago for a slower-moving world that relied predominantly on inflexible and monolithic infrastructures.

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