5 business technology trends defining CIO responsibilities in 2018
This is a part of a series of stories featuring CIO Dive's business technology trends for 2018. You can find the rest of the trends here.
The start of a new year marks a time for reflection, allowing individuals to look back and determine what worked or what didn't.
For technology professionals, 2017 was defined by a rapid pace of change where businesses had to consider the ramifications of advanced technologies like blockchain and AI while also digitizing legacy systems.
In many ways, 2017 can be summarized as expectation, meet reality. Much of the work to combat hype and make sure back-end systems operate efficiently helped lay the foundation for technology in 2018.
As companies become more digital, tech leaders can begin to focus on the future and settle into their roles as strategic business leaders and board members.
Here are five trends enterprise technology stakeholders will see in the coming year:
1. The death of "digital transformation"
In many ways, 2017 marked the end of using "digital transformation" to describe every modernization effort businesses were undertaking. Once AI hype reached a fever pitch, a mental shift from focusing on digital technology to "intelligent everything" in the enterprise occurred.
Though digital efforts are still at the core of business technology strategies, companies are starting to rethink how they approach technology, integrating IT efforts into board-level discussions. In some companies, IT departments are rebranding to simply "technology" departments to help shake off dated perceptions.
Becoming more "intelligent" with technology is helping to drive the next era of business technology thinking: Every company is a tech company.
Sure, it's a slightly generic phrase, which a quick search reveals dates back to at least 2014. But because companies are starting to reach maturity with cloud use and are looking to establish robust data analytic engines, every company functioning as a tech company is quickly becoming a reality and will be further realized in 2018.
For example, in an industry traditionally slow to modernize, healthcare network Mercy has worked to establish a data portfolio to streamline patient care and help with the diagnostic process.
2. Businesses will fall into compliance mania
With less than six months to go before GDPR is enacted, businesses are frantically working to ensure compliance.
Compliance alone is no longer the motivating factor. Companies are starting to take a hard look at how fines are levied under pending regulations.
While it requires a heavy investment to process data correctly, fines for failing to meet regulations could cost companies millions. Non-compliance can cost almost three times as much as maintaining or meeting regulatory standards, according to a GlobalSCAPE, Inc. and Ponemon report.
Hilton Domestic Operating Company, for example, is set to pay a $700,000 fine over its two data breaches in 2015. But under GDPR, the company would have been subject to a $420 million fine.
With regulations in mind, businesses will start constructing a data and analytics portfolio that is compliant from the onset rather than having to later undertake remediation efforts.
3. The "give me" attitude toward advanced tech will increase
Technology has a tendency to adopt science fiction undertones, especially because of futuristic capabilities emerging. It is often difficult to discuss AI without some mention of Skynet and the pending robot apocalypse, for example.
The prevalence of advanced technology, however, has a side effect. As technologies like blockchain and AI emerge, businesses of all kinds begin imagining technological possibilities. This can give rise to companies without mature portfolios investigating and investing in technologies that may not meet business needs. This "give me" attitude favors flashy technology over functionality.
Blockchain is one of the most prevalent examples of this. Companies across sectors are looking toward the ledger technology to eventually certify a bevy of transactions. But the reality is the blockchain platform that will "win" is not yet on the market, which is not expected to reach maturity until 2030, according to Gartner.
While an iced tea company rebranding as Long Blockchain is marketable, long term profitability and relevance is not guaranteed.
4. Technology departments will work to serve the true customer
At their heart, businesses of all shapes and size work to serve the customer. So too do the individual departments that make up a company.
Traditionally for IT departments, the customer base comprises the employees within a company. But as technology has become entrenched across lines of business, from marketing to finance to back-end operations, IT's true customer has changed.
More technology teams are pivoting to serve both internal and external customers. As corporate systems become more digital, the same modernization efforts working to more effectively power a business can be applied to help improve outside customer experiences.
As is the case at UPS, experimenting with new technologies such as AI-powered chatbots benefits both internal users and external customers tracking packages. Though the underlying technology stays the same, its applications can change depending on the customer.
Accenture is another example, where, as the company worked to roll out Windows 10 internally it identified best practices, which can in turn benefit its clients.
More companies are working to assist customers using technology, a theme technology trade organization CompTIA identified for 2018. If executed well, organizations with technology-centric customer service could experience higher margins and increased customer loyalty.
5. CIOs, not CDOs, will be responsible for corporate technology portfolios
In recent years it has been en vogue to project the downfall of the chief information officer. Critics forecast modern technologies edging out traditional technology leaders, which has helped spark the emergence of new titles in the enterprise, from chief digital officers to chief transformation officers.
Almost 20% of the world's top 2,500 companies by revenue have appointed a CDO, according to Strategy&, PwC's strategy consulting business. Some even think CIOs should report to CDOs because of the digital focus on top-line growth and customer focus.
But the role of the CIO is changing and is no longer relegated to ensuring business technology stays running. CIOs are transitioning into business executive roles and working to drive revenue and capitalize on data, according to Gartner. While CIOs' titles have not changed, 95% of CIOs and business technology executives surveyed by Gartner say digital technologies have remixed their roles and pivoted them away from solely delivery managers.
The role of a CDO is one CIOs already inhabit; the titles are just different.
For many businesses, employing a CDO may be strategic move that increases the executive focus on commercial products. CIOs, however, will remain focused on digital efforts and improving a business' use of technology.
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