Editor’s note: The following is a guest post authored by Momentive CIO Eric Johnson.
Workplace culture, employee experience and productivity are top of mind for CIOs and their IT leader counterparts. But as macroeconomic conditions impact businesses across industries, these forces have stalled technology innovation as companies scale back and look for ways to trim budgets.
CIOs will be instrumental in helping enterprises navigate the winds of change by enabling ecosystems, co-creating new business models and outcomes, empowering employees and building resiliency over the next five years, according to IDC projections.
To not fall behind is to be a digitally native company. In 2023 and beyond, CIOs can prioritize improving business outcomes by underpinning strategies, encouraging innovation and cutting waste.
Here are three specific areas CIOs can focus on:
1. Ensure investments drive value.
One of the biggest priorities for CIOs this coming year should be ensuring that company investments are actually driving value. Over the past few months, we have witnessed companies significantly tightening budgets and scaling back on investments in software and services due to the tumultuous economic climate.
Profitability is more top of mind than it ever has been. As financial headwinds continue, CIOs will need to start reevaluating and recalibrating what they are making bets on, ensuring value in the investments they made and will make.
This often means combating SaaS sprawl: reducing the number of solutions a company pays for that provide the same functionality, lowering software licensing fees to reflect the actual number of active users and ensuring teams aren’t working in silos in different solutions.
A key tidbit of advice for fellow leaders: if the investment hasn’t provided noticeable value by the six-month mark, critical review is needed. If the business isn’t getting three times the value from an investment in software, consider cutting the spend.
2. Evolve from a cost center to a profit center.
CIOs need to recognize that IT and data programs must evolve from a cost center to a profit center. As companies reinvent their data processes, we’ll see a continued push from CIOs and their business counterparts to challenge data teams and programs to drive revenue and growth.
Traditionally, IT teams focused on maintaining existing systems and handling employee support queries. While that is still important work, digital transformation gives IT teams a new path to support profitability: data analytics.
As businesses invest in new digital solutions and touchpoints, they are generating an enormous amount of data that is going untouched. There is an opportunity for IT teams to analyze data from across the business to identify opportunities for growth and inefficient processes to improve.
3. Prioritize and appreciate the shift towards automation.
AI is no longer a cutting-edge trend. It has been a much-discussed area for years now — it's so overused that as a CIO, nearly every vendor I speak with will claim to have AI or machine learning capabilities in their solution, no matter the product type or use case.
But alongside the overblown claims, there are many teams within businesses that can greatly benefit from it, and already do. Marketers may use AI to create personalized marketing, or customer success leaders may use it to analyze customer sentiment and highlight actionable insights.
If your business hasn't already invested in AI/ML in some way or another, it is no question you will lag behind competitors. CIOs, now more than ever, need to help companies shift from the traditional, analog ways of doing business and embrace automation.
This approach could mean utilizing new technologies and processes or adjusting to new business models, as well as being proactive to determine where the best opportunities for new innovations lie.
Additionally, with tightened budgets, more leaders will use bot technologies to provide IT support to help with key processes in finance, HR and sales departments. Automating processes will free up teams to do more meaningful work and save costs, laddering back to the company’s bottom line.