By: Sharon Florentine
The CIO role continues to grow, thanks in large part to digital transformation, with IT executives adding new responsibilities, ranging from data analytics to product development, according to our 2019 State of the CIO. To meet these goals and continue to innovate, savvy IT leaders must carefully decide which tech investments to make to drive innovation, increase market share, develop and deploy new solutions and meet customer needs.
But where are IT leaders investing to receive the biggest bang for their investment buck? Our survey of 683 heads of IT sheds light on the business initiatives that will be most significant in driving IT investments this year.
Here, we take a look at those numbers and discuss with several CIOs the kinds of technologies they’ll be investing in to bring this year’s business initiatives to fruition.
The business priorities driving IT spend
According to our 2019 State of the CIO survey, increasing operational efficiency and bolstering cybersecurity are among the most significant initiatives driving IT investment this year, with growth-related goals, such as improving profitability and facilitating new product development, and digital-focused efforts, such as transforming business processes and introducing new digital revenues, also key to the top 10 responses:
- Increase operational efficiency: 40%
- Increase cybersecurity protections: 40%
- Improve customer service: 35%
- Growing the business: 31%
- Transform existing business processes: 31%
- Improve profitability: 24%
- Optimize worker productivity: 20%
- Introduce new digital revenue streams: 15%
- Meet compliance requirements (GDPR etc.): 15%
- Enhancing/enabling new product dev: 13%
To the cloud
For Anthony Peters, IT director at Frank, Rimerman and Co., an accounting, consulting and compliance firm in San Jose, Calif., the drive for greater operational efficiency and improved customer experience will translate into greater investments in the cloud.
“We’re focused on the cloud to take advantage of being able to offload applications for easy deployment, management and scalability,” he says. “Anything we can do to ease that process will help with efficiency and, following on from that, customer experience.”
But like most organizations these days, cybersecurity spend remains vital to the firm. “Security is always a concern, especially in our business, and because of the high-tech clients we serve,” Peters says.
As for eying future growth, Peters and his team will be investing in analytics to help facilitate the firm’s evolution into a data-driven organization.
“We’re going to leverage data analytics to predict the future direction of the firm. We do have some data visualization capabilities already, but we want to take that to the next level and help us to improve service innovation, operational efficiencies and customer experience,” Peters says.
Analytics at the core
Like many IT leaders, Brandon Jones is embarking on a digital journey. The CIO of Worldwide Assurance for Employees of Public Agencies (WAEPA), a nonprofit that facilitates access to insurance for federal employees, is approaching digital transformation via a four-pillar approach, he says.
“We’re going to increase security protections, improve customer experience, transform our existing business and grow the business by building a framework supported by emphasis on relationships with four pillars: our customers, our partners, our employees and IoT [internet of things],” Jones says.
At the center of that framework is what Jones calls business outcome-driven analytics, or BODA. “Based on best practices and input from our strategic partners, we’re really invested in using analytics to understand how these pillars are connected and the relationships between them.”
This effort will include analytics tailored to improve customer experience, systems integration, and back-office and core systems, Jones says. Analytics will also help WAEPA achieve a better understanding of the needs of its customers and partners.
To achieve these goals, Jones will direct investment to data analytics, cloud and security technologies, as well as customer experience tools such as artificial intelligence. “Data analytics, cloud tech and cybersecurity are really important, but we’re also looking at customer experience technology like chatbots and other AI-enabled customer-facing solutions,” he says.
For the City of Los Angeles, modernizing essential enterprise systems remains a top priority, so 2019 will be all about addressing operational efficiency, optimizing business practices and securing the public’s data, says Joyce Edson, deputy CIO of the City of Los Angeles Information Technology Agency (ITA).
As a governmental organization, the City’s mandate is to deliver public services efficiently, quickly and securely, Edson says. Therefore, IT efforts will focus on improvement of service delivery and increased efficiency in the provision of that service, as well as the protection of the public and the constituents it serves, along with their associated data.
Edson’s challenge is to achieve these goals in the face of a talent crunch, with large numbers of older workers aging out of the workforce and leaving many roles vacant throughout city government. That means leveraging technology solutions to streamline and automate certain tasks and processes as well as optimize productivity, she says.
“The City of Los Angeles, like many organizations today, is facing the effects of the Baby Boomer generation’s entry in to retirement (Silver Tsunami) and the potential for large numbers of the current workforce leaving City positions,” Edson says. But Edson also sees this as an opportunity to review and improve business processes, an effort that will require technology investments for documenting workflow and processes and to provide assistance in filling the workforce gap.
And because another important government mandate is responsible use of the public fund, Edson and her team will be investing in technology to facilitate greater worker productivity and improve the quality and efficiency of services delivery via that public fund.