Examining CIO/CTO Priorities in 2022

Hamilton Forth Managing Director Alistair Shaw looks at the expanding role of the CIO/CTO, the challenges they face, and how this is impacting their priorities in 2022.

Alignment with Business Strategy

The responsibilities of Chief Information Officers (CIO) and Chief Technology Officers (CTO) are expanding every year as tech develops and becomes more crucial to each stage of organisations’ processes. This has caused the role of CTO/ CIO to evolve from overseeing the IT department and systems, to being crucial to strategy and achieving business goals. 2022 will give CIOs/CTOs the opportunity to remould organisations which have been impacted by the pandemic, rebuilding more agile and more fit for modern challenges than before.  Tech projects are expected to be up 30% across most organisations to add to CIO/CTO’s pressures.

Hybrid Working

The pandemic has been another reminder of the importance of tech and having efficient systems in place to adapt to the changing work landscape. Working from home will remain prominent in 2022, even if this is in the form of hybrid working. CIOs/ CTOs will have to make provisions that enable their employees to work in a way that suits them. With the Covid-19 rules frequently changing, agility and adaptability will be crucial to ensuring work is not disrupted by changes. Strict Government guidelines determined working trends in 2021, however as rules are relaxed, working with the senior leadership team, CIOs/CTOs will now have to determine their own rules and ensure resources are provided to facilitate working patterns. This will require investment in IT systems and equipment which are accessibly remotely and enable collaborative working.

As preferences for remote and office-based work varies from person to person, listening to employees and offering a degree of flexibility will be key to keeping employees happy in 2022. Failure to do so may encourage high employee turnover – a pattern which has been prevalent throughout 2021 and at the start of 2022, the period referred to as the ‘Great Resignation’.

Artificial Intelligence

CIOs and CTOs are responsible for keeping up to date with new tech and embracing change. One of the key responsibilities for them is identifying opportunities and therefore they cannot be risk/ change averse. Failure to adapt or invest in new tech may mean they can’t compete with competitors or market demand for new innovations.

In 2022, one of these leading technologies is likely to be AI. Understanding the capabilities of this technology and how your organisation can utilise such, will be crucial to staying ahead of the curve. For many organisations, AI can be utilised to understand, learn and predict consumer behaviour, enabling organisations to adapt their offering to attract consumers and influence them.

With the continued decline of the High Street, more and more organisations are relying on the internet for exposure to consumers. With the volume of content and noise on the web, organisations only have a very small window in which they can grab a consumer’s attention. AI is enabling businesses to tailor their content to attract individuals.

Despite the shift to online, consumers are still heavily influenced by human connection and relationships. This theory is driving advancements in AI technology such as more realistic and responsive conversational AI replacing chatbots. In 2022, we will see AI being used to replicate human interactions and build relationships on behalf of an organisation.

Data

With Covid-19 restrictions and people seeking the convenience of accessing an organisations products/ service from home, utilising tech and data to improve customer experience will remain important. McKinsey Digital (2021) states that knowing your customer “as well as you know your technology” is a priority for leadership in 2022. This is achievable through the use of data collection and utilising such to build relationships and create an optimum customer experience.

However, with this collection comes great responsibility. The GDPR regulations brought organisations under scrutiny for the way they collect and use customers data. The CIO/CTO has a responsibility to ensure organisations are compliant with regulations and use data ethically. Failure to do so could result in serious consequences such as fines or legal action.

Cybersecurity

While data is essential in improving customer experience, governance and security are one of the most important priorities for CIOs/ CTOs. Cyber-attacks have become more common, intrusive, and risky for organisations. Cyber threats will require CIOs/CTOs to collaborate with their Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) to protect organisations’ interests and their consumers’ privacy.

As crucial to protecting the organisation as cyber security is, there are issues in organisations fulfilling this requirement due to tech talent shortages. Cybersecurity expertise demand is out-running supply; therefore, organisations may need to look in-house to their team for individuals who could be trained and upskilled in cybersecurity. This will require significant investment. Studies suggest, Cyber security will see the biggest increase in spending in 2022, with 65% of CIOs reporting higher expected spend than in previous years.

With this in mind, CIOs/CTOs key priorities in 2022 will be adapting their organisations to suit a post-pandemic world in a manner that satisfies both employees and consumers, embracing tech to improve customers online experiences, utilising data for smarter targeting and building relationships and finally, reducing the skills gap through upskilling staff or finding talent to protect from cyber threats. 2022 is bound to be a busy and vital year for CTOs/ CIOs.

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