CIO strategy for 2013

As the economy shifts, the role of the CIO is constantly adapting. This year, expect to see a strong focus on digital enablement

If 2012 became the year of the tablet and IT consumerisation, what should CIOs be doing in 2013? The migration of Windows XP to Windows 7 should be well underway and many IT departments are likely to put off any further migration to Windows 8 until this has been completed. But while the desktop strategy is set, mobile device spending is on the increase.

Globally, spending on devices is expected to grow 6.3% to $666 billion according to Gartner's IT spending forecast.

But devices should not be the number one priority for CIOs.

Speaking to Computer Weekly, Gartner analyst Mark Raskino warns: “If you don’t have a big systematic change strategy for what technology will do for your business, then the agenda will be filled by superficial stuff like IT consumerisation.”

Why IT leaders visit CES 2013

According to Gartner distinguished analyst, Mark Raskino, CIOs attending the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas (8-11 January 2013) will be looking to see what is happening in the Internet of Things and the future of consumer products. Raskino says: “If you are a car company  or a consumer packaged goods company – how will your business change? Even a non-electronics company can be influenced by the likes of Apple and Samsung.” Raskino urges CIOs to consider the question: “How will distribution in my industry change by the Internet of Things?

Raskino described IT consumerisation as a headache for IT, rather like Windows security. “It’s a hygiene factor,” he said. Staff bringing their own devices (BYOD) to work is an aspect of IT that CIOs and IT departments will now have to live with.

He believes modern CIOs are too narrowly focused. 

“Because you haven’t had a deep structural model for digitisation of your industry, [superficial] level things happen instead. BYOD is analogous to the [superficial] websites you had in the 1990s,” Raskino said.

Among the CIOs Gartner has spoken to, the big picture is to drive greater use of digital assets, though the concept of digitisation. The analyst firm describes a nexus of forces, namely cloud, social technologies, mobile and big data. These so-called forces redefine the IT landscape, allowing businesses to become more digitised, such as by exploiting big data, sensor networks and the Internet of Things to create new business opportunities.

He says CIOs need to have a serious conversation of how their industries work. 

“All these smartphones have location information," says Raskino. "If CIOs in the 80s had access to geographical information they would have done a lot more with it. How companies use location to optimise their operations is a different conversation to BYOD.”

Adding value though IT

In a Forrester survey of 1,654 IT decision makers at companies with between 100 and 999 staff, 64% said improving business processes would be their highest priority over the next 12 months.

Their second-highest priority according to the Forrester survey is to increase IT capacity/resources to drive business innovations, while CIOs rated improving IT’s on-time and on-budget performance, as their third-highest priority of 2013.

In the UK public sector, CIOs will be looking at an action plan for the Government’s Digital Strategy, particularly around the area of improving digital leadership. In a briefing document on Government Digital Services, Socitm, the professional association for public sector ICT management, states: “No public sector organisation can afford to ignore the issue of leadership and the need to provide strong support for it. We advise everyone to study carefully this part of the strategy in order to apply the principle of leadership to their local context, taking also into account the role of CIOs, where they exist, about which the strategy is silent."

Commenting on local government IT agenda, Jos Creese CIO at Hampshire County Council, says: “In local government, there remains a priority to reduce the cost of public service delivery.” 

This means driving greater value and cutting costs through the continued roll-out of virtualisation, IT consolidation and streamlining internal processes. He adds that local government needs fewer IT systems, and these should require less manual intervention. “We have to do all of this in a way that IT remains agile. IT cannot become the bottleneck.”

Just as in any large organisation, local government is looking to exploit information through big data, and support flexible and mobile working to allow people to work from home.

CIOs in the public sector will need to assess how their security infrastructure works within a flexible workplace. “We need to harmonise security processes. This will require unifying user identities.”

He says IT outsourcing, both in the public sector and in the private sector, needs to be more flexible to drive transformational change.

In some ways, 2013 will represent more of the same, in terms of IT strategy. Businesses will continue to migrate from XP to Windows 7; people will carry on bringing their tablets and smartphones to work and IT will continue to juggle budget with the ability to drive innovation. 

However more of the same will not be an effective strategy to help businesses through the economic storm. Hopefully 2013 will be the year the businesses turns to IT and the CIO to steer the digital strategy for business growth.

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