3 Challenges Facing CIOs As They Shape the Digital Future

Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo

Gartner IT Symposium/XpoJoin a global community of CIOs and IT executives

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Digital transformation in industry poses both opportunities and challenges for IT departments. As digitalization accelerates, and as businesses expand to operate on an international scale, CIOs will need to prepare the human workforce for globalization and a future of work that embraces new technology.


This requires a shift in traditional leadership styles, and establishing collaborative ways of working that can empower teams, drive innovation, and connect people and processes for seamless productivity.

Here are the three main types of challenges facing CIOs, and how to overcome them:

1. Society and sustainability  

The evolution that we are witnessing in society today is the product of globalization itself. Both businesses and consumers demand sustainable solutions, and industry is under pressure to keep up with the advancing needs of our culture. Finding ways to work faster, more efficiently, and with less impact to the environment is key. As companies migrate their data to the cloud, adopt remote collaboration platforms, and automate laborious human tasks, they can run their day-to-day operations more resourcefully, saving on time and energy. This is where the main opportunities can be found; in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robotics, cloud infrastructure and services, the Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain technologies, and Big Data.

But our main challenge is the integration of economy, culture and political structures, and this requires an interconnectivity of global markets, better collaboration between people, and a deeper understanding of the natural world. This greener way of working defies traditional business models that extract value from society. Instead, we need to find ways to give back.

Companies should be leveraging technology to address social issues, not just for short-term lucrative gain. Globalization with long-term success can only be effectual if it aligns with sustainable development goals. In tackling problems with carbon emissions, by improving labor impact with job creation, or by providing physical and food security for local communities, brands can position themselves as leaders in their market. Ultimately, positive positioning will future-proof businesses, helping them improve their bottom line through organic growth.

2. Business challenges

Old business models are changing as brand visions and brand missions are now backed by powerful technology. Organizations are able to help solve wider societal problems through forming cross-industry ecosystems. From precision planting technology in agriculture to personalized healthcare trends, industry is evolving fast.

However, availability of technology doesn’t mean that access is as easy and straightforward. Some of the key challenges facing CIOs today are ineffective organizational structure, lack of planning or digitization strategy, or limited budget to carry out digital transformation. Those who are successful in digitalization, integration and globalization face new security issues. Cyber security is a costly and complex investment, but a critical investment that companies cannot afford to ignore.

Before deploying digital initiatives, CIOs must ensure that there is the right expertise and talent on board, create long-term strategies, and factor in security issues that could impact on business or customer data.

3. Personal and workforce

The right leadership is essential for building a digital transformation strategy. CIOs must consider the future of work for their teams. Do they have the right skills? What level of training is required? How can we empower employees or attract fresh talent?

This is where individual development comes in, as businesses have to find ways to upskill their staff and prepare workers for navigating fully connected, IOT-driven, cloud-based systems. But it’s not just hard skills that will need to be fine-tuned. Another major challenge can be the resistance to change – this is often where soft skills fail. With the rollout of bots, such as Robotic Process Automation (RPA), fear of job loss can have a huge impact on the human workforce. It’s important for CIOs and team leaders to empower their human workforce and make room for career shift or development (such as hybrid roles) in order to bolster technology adoption.

To avoid employee pushback, and for humans and bots to work harmoniously, employees have to buy into concepts from the start. Communication is integral at this stage. Involve frontline workers at every stage of the process, and work with them to find the most effective solutions. The more time you can save them, the easier you can make their work, the more productive they can be. This is how companies can drive innovation, through creative and strategic thinking, not just mundane tasks.

As the digital landscape develops, employee demand for flexible working will be all the more apparent. Globalization means that people will be required to collaborate, not just face-to-face, but from various locations and across multiple time zones. The challenge here is to having the organizational structure, the right platforms and tools, and enough remote access software to support this.

Explore more insights and trends, and discover what will be shaping the future of IT and business, at Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo in Barcelona, Spain on the 3rd - 7th November 2019. It is the world’s largest gathering of CIOs and IT executives, with expert-led sessions on how to prepare for and embrace the digital revolution.

Prepare to be inspired

3 – 7 November 2019 | Barcelona, Spain

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