This article is part of The Water Cooler, a recurring column for technology executives to digest, discuss and debate. Next up: How do you prioritize IT projects?
The priority for enterprise IT in 2021 was acceleration and growth — and the tune isn't changing much as 2022 nears.
Technology executives are gearing up for a busy 2022, with IT spending expected to grow 3.6% next year, according to Gartner projections. The increase is the highest jump in over a decade, as once-prioritized legacy upgrades take a backseat to investments in cybersecurity or data.
How companies decide to invest in technology could determine their long-term success. With the right technology outfit, organizations can address their "total experience," or how they interact with customers, employees, users and everything in between.
But a large theme that emerges across executive priorities in 2022 is the need for IT talent. The ability to attract and retain technology workers, essential for execution on IT projects and priorities, sits atop C-suite priorities. The need for talent is shaping purchasing decisions, too.
Here are the budget priorities for five technology executives next year:
(The comments below have been lightly edited for length and clarity.)
Mike Anderson, chief digital and information officer at Netskope
"By investing in tools that build more rigor into our sales methodology, our sales team can build a strong foundation from a system standpoint."
CIO at Netskope
Adapting to new ways of working will be the name of the game in 2022.
In 2022, IT budgets will prioritize investments that maximize go-to-market strategy and deliver business value realization, as well as provide security for protecting applications and data in the cloud.
Business value realization is a critical piece of technology investment that’s too often overlooked. In other words, how is every business helping its customers understand exactly what value their investments in technology are creating, and how does every business ensure it’s realizing those benefits?
Here’s an example: By investing in tools that build more rigor into our sales methodology, our sales team can build a strong foundation from a system standpoint. We hope this support will allow sales executives to better leverage customer data and make more informed decisions, which will increase overall customer experience and boost customer loyalty
Rolf Illenberger, managing director at VRdirect
"Our number one priority in the IT budget is development capacity."
Managing director at VRdirect
We are a technology company building and creating our own software solutions so, for us, the priority is clearly our development team. The labor market that I'm expecting next year will be even more difficult than it is already.
If you're a software company and you want to create a smartphone app today, you have two systems that you need to build for: iOS and Android.
In the VR space, you're going to need to deploy an app for the Oculus / Meta ecosystem, Microsoft, Apple, HTC, Pico… so it's going to be super difficult for us to keep up with market developments. That means our number one priority in the IT budget is development capacity.
Prasad Ramakrishnan, CIO at Freshworks
"We have been making investments in AI/ML based technologies to improve the quality of insights to our employees. I see continued investments in this area."
CIO at Freshworks
We want our employees to be happy and proud of the work they are doing, so we’re evaluating more robotic process automation so they don’t have to get bogged down with tedious, repetitive workflows and allow them to up-level their work on more meaningful tasks — prioritizing a human touch on strategic, critical work.
We have been making investments in AI/ML based technologies to improve the quality of insights to our employees. I see continued investments in this area. We also recognize that remote work is here to stay, so to safeguard our remote workspace we’re looking into implementing a “tech review” process for each of our employees.
It’s a logistical nightmare for companies to figure out where every employee is, ensure they’re utilizing secure networks to access sensitive information, and that they’re even properly equipped (with physical equipment) to do so. Conducting this review allows for these processes to flow more seamlessly and securely in the future.
Nicolas Avila, CTO for North America at Globant
"In this day and age, people are not going to work for a company that's not investing in their growth."
CTO for North America at Globant
One priority is around empowering our talent. In this day and age, people are not going to work for a company that's not investing in their growth, where they're not feeling connected to their purpose. You have to be a company that empowers them to give the best of themselves.
That's why we've been investing in different initiatives around AI, for example, to make our developers more productive so they can learn faster on a new job that they can turn assignments in faster and be ready for the next endeavor, but at the same time be more productive.
Mick Cobb, CTO at OnBoard
"Our team is investing heavily on improving the security of our application for users."
CTO at OnBoard
Talent is a top priority for our team. IT teams will either succeed or fail this year based on how much they’ve invested in programs, processes, and support for their talent pipeline.
We’re also continuing to invest in ensuring we can continue to ideate, develop, and execute innovative new features for our customers throughout every step of their board experience.
Lastly, another area that’s top of mind for us in the new year is security. Our team is investing heavily on improving the security of our application for users, as well as simplifying the experience so it’s intuitive and not cumbersome. It’s also important for us to equally spend money toward keeping company security and data quality.