People, process, technology. People, process, technology.
It's the chant of the modern enterprise, particularly for organizations eager to move beyond the waterfall technology implementations of the past.
Successful businesses are rooted in agility and companies expect technology leaders to support flexibility, whether the responsibility falls to the chief information, digital or technology officer.
Key is making technology the center of business strategy. The biggest sales, the largest marketing campaigns, the most understanding customer service initiatives will fail without a reliable and efficient underlying technology stack.
With an uncertain economic future, changing trade policies and constant cyberthreats, IT leaders need a clear strategic vision and the support of the business.
Here are five business technology leadership trends to watch in 2020. Did we miss anything? Email us at [email protected].
1. Lines will blur as CIOs take on more CTO responsibilities
Hype around companies appointing chief digital officers has waned, leaving CIOs to solely own enterprise IT leadership. Sort of.
Technology leaders are earning seats at the executive committee level, but clear divisions between officials is obscured. Three spheres of influence emerge: CIOs control internal technology operations, CTOs manage customer-facing product and CISOs own security.
Last year brought hybrid executive roles as more CIOs took on CTO responsibilities, a trend set to continue in 2020.
It's happening at companies of all sizes. Biopharma giant McKesson Corporation, which had revenue of $208 billion in 2018, hired a new CIO/CTO who will start in January. Peloton, a fitness company reporting $915 million in revenue for FY19, also has a CIO/CTO.
Though they have distinct responsibilities, the line between CIO and CTO can blur. Subway Restaurants named Mike Macrie CIO in April and CTO duties fall in line with his role.
"I'd say I'm a CIO/CTO. I have responsibility for all technology operations and execution, including digital," Macrie told CIO Dive. On top of working with marketing on digital, he also covers the basics, including help desk to support franchisees.
Companies are working to "change the business models of the past," Macrie said. "I've seen it attempted without technology in the room and it doesn't necessarily end well for a lot of people if they think they can get from point A to point B without the CIO or CTO in the room."
2. Budgets are increasing, but businesses demand value realization
Technology budgets are set to increase or remain the same in 2020, according to a survey of more than 1,000 business technology buyers from Spiceworks. Budget increases are principally driven by the need to update infrastructure, increased security, employee growth and prioritizing security projects.
Forecasting access to funds creates an opportunity for IT leaders to make headway on digital transformation efforts. But it requires business leaders to show how the technology investments positively impact the business.
A data breach following increased investment in security controls won't go over well with business stakeholders.
Conversation around value realization is something CIOs will have to master in the new digital era, said Jarod Greene, VP of audience marketing at Apptio and general manager of the TBM Council, in an interview with CIO Dive.
Keeping the lights on and the business protected have become table stakes, Greene said. As the technology portfolio expands, and more CIOs are building technologies that provide a competitive differentiation, it's a board-level question.
"CIOs, CTOs, CDOs — what are we getting for the money we spent? What is the value? If CIOs and IT leaders aren't good at that conversation, I think it just puts the whole thing at risk," he said.
3. Projects morph into products
Businesses can't afford to wait six months from concept to delivery before a project launch. Key to more consistent iteration is shifting technology teams from project to product delivery. Teams oriented with a project see its implementation from the start and are responsible for maintenance and improvements once it's in production.
The move is a core tenant of DevOps, which champions cross-department collaboration and the union of development and operations.
The project to product shift is made possible by cloud technology, which moves from the capex to opex model. Product-centric delivery is grounded in agility, but it also presents a trap.
"Most folks have moved to agile development methodologies, but haven't adjusted the funding model to account for it," Greene said. "It puts the whole product-centric movement at risk when you can't articulate the value of your agile efforts."
It's crucial for businesses to rearticulate service delivery because customer mindsets change immediately; companies have to be able to reallocate resources quickly away from previously-articulated plans if need be.
If companies are in a fixed-product mindset, "by the time you have the conversation on what to do, you've missed the window," Greene said.
4. Small improvements, constant iteration even in personal development
In a methodology espoused by DevOps, businesses are embracing continuous integration and continuous delivery, introduces change in an iterative way. New releases are smaller and delivered more frequently.
CIOs and IT leaders are extending this mindset to areas outside of technology. Constant iteration and improvement turns introspective.
Though the concept of growth mindset debuted decades ago, it has taken root at Microsoft under Satya Nadella's leadership as CEO. As Nadella writes in his book "Hit Refresh," it's the idea people can overcome failures by believing they can.
"A growth mindset can move you forward," he said. Its counterpart, fixed mindset, sees an outcome as certain.
Growth mindset is a leadership principal to ground executives across lines of business, but is especially pertinent for technology executives facing technology debt and funding limitations. Progress as a leader and in the future of a company requires believing in the possible.
Brook Colangelo, CIO at Waters Corporation and the former White House CIO under the Obama administration, has been working with his team and those around him on growth mindset, he told CIO Dive.
It's the "thought process of, you're not great, but can be great," Colangelo said. "It's the power of 'yet.'"
5. Trouble's ahead — and technology is keeping business afloat
Economists anticipate a recession but when it's set to hit is in flux. Half of CFOs expect a recession this year. Even more expect a recession by mid-2021, CFO Dive reports.
What's left is an aura of uncertainty with geopolitical tensions, looming cyberthreats and disruption from within an industry, thanks to digital prowess.
"Turns," forces of change in the business realm, were a key theme of 2019's Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo. Some businesses are experiencing them in real-time.
Macy's, is facing multiple turns. Already struggling in the lagging traditional department store market, the company suffered a customized point-of-sale cyberattack last year resulting in a data breach. The costs post-breach only add to business woes.
Where do the turns leave businesses? They help decide if a company is fit or fragile, according to Gartner.
Key to success is savvy technology leadership that has orchestrated a plan for modernization and iterative technology improvement.
Keeping businesses afloat requires centralized digital foundations, a pool of resources for general innovation and a responsive technology funding model, according to Gartner.