The CIO Agenda

In the digital economy, the Chief Information Officer must become the Chief Innovation Officer.  As such, CIOs must keep change-driven objectives in mind and focus their time, their resources, and their teams on two strategic priorities in the next several years: shifting workloads and shifting operational priorities.

Innovation is all about developing and operating new digital services built on the right data, cloud-native architectures and adoption of agile development (CI/CD) processes that require investments in DevOps and DataOps. The application and data portfolio that CIOs and their IT teams own today is more complex, more diverse and more in flux than ever before. Virtually all companies, whether consumer-centric or business-centric, are making major investments in new data-intensive, AI-enhanced customer facing applications built on video, LIDAR and AR/VR technologies that are intended to deliver the optimal digital experience. In many asset intense industries such as manufacturing, transportation, and utilities, organizations are also making major investments in data lakes and analytic intensive applications with complex data pipelines to dramatically improve asset use and business operational processes.

By 2023, these modern applications will account for 80% of all applications in a digital enterprise. In addition, the extension of new digital services to edge locations will drive an 8X increase in the development and deployment of new applications and data sets in IT assets at the edge. At the same time, CIOs must also maintain/modernize existing applications that support existing needs and serve as critical data sources underpinning new digital services. For each such workload, CIOs and their teams will go through 5 phases of workload migration. The key is to shorten the time required to move from one pase to the next.

Five Phases of Cloud Migration

In terms of operational priorities, sustained innovation is all about transforming IT skillsets and cultures to support a highly flexible and scalable governance that leverages automation and AI to minimize time to develop/deliver/enhance while ensuring high levels of availability/security  across the organization.

Since the beginning of the computer age, the IT organization has been responsible for the selection, procurement, initial deployment, ongoing administration and “eventual” disposal/replacement of IT hardware and packaged software products. This responsibility shaped most current IT organizational structures (procurement, administration, support) and the establishment of IT acquisition and operational processes and policies though many were originally set by past CIOs years or even decades ago.

As CIOs strive to become Chief Innovation Officers in the next two years, they must do this by transforming the “culture” of the IT team from a focus on acquiring/managing/supporting products to delivering the diverse and ever evolving portfolio of resources that underlay an organization’s business innovation efforts.

A key risk for CIOs will be to overly focus on technology transitions. Efforts to make greater use of cloud-based infrastructure or take advantage of new technologies such as containers, machine learning, and blockchain will be important, but a focus solely on today's latest technology is not the most important priority for CIOs.