The 2015 CIO agenda

The global economic waters have calmed somewhat, after the turbulence of recent years. With the proliferation of new business models, the ever more digitalised marketplace and a general acceptance across the C-suite of the need for continuous innovation, CIOs are perfectly positioned to drive their businesses forward.

As we move further into 2015, success – if not survival – will in part hinge on how well organisations strategically leverage the transformative power of digital technologies and how the CIO can navigate business through this transition.

Even successful CIOs cannot afford to rest on their laurels, and a keen eye needs to be constantly trained on the horizon for the looming storms of oncoming business challenges.

In fact, a little weather can be a good thing, as long as you are prepared for change. Savvy CIOs know this and are aggressively driving the investments and initiatives necessary to lead digital transformation.

>See also: Changing roles: the CIO as transformer

The sixth edition of the CSC Global CIO Survey (in association with IDG research) took a barometer of the CIO landscape. It is a quantitative analysis of the trends and outlook for CIOs based on a sample of technology leaders from private companies and public institutions around the world – producing a comprehensive industry weather map.

So, what are the transformative technologies taking their worlds by storm? Where are they having the most impact? And what can CIOs expect in 2015?

The elements

Investment in disruptive technology is set to not just continue, but to increase significantly at a rate of knots across both corporate and public sectors in the New Year. As CIOs and their organisations sense this disruptive wave gathering apace, next generation solutions in application modernisation, big data, cloud, mobility and cyber security are commanding much larger shares of budgets. In fact, the survey revealed a marked increase in IT spending globally, with 64% reporting it was higher than the year before, even more so in the UK (69%).

However, despite increasing budgets, resource constraints still remain by far the greatest barrier to IT driving innovation in organisations. As a result, sailing the seas of 2015 requires disruptive CIOs to drive growth and change by reallocating time and resources toward forward-thinking initiatives and investment in transformative technologies.

The Global CIO Survey revealed that UK CIOs have laid the groundwork for innovation with heavy investment in enhanced cyber security (74%) and application modernisation (71%), prioritising transformative initiatives and investments in the Internet of Things (77%), analytics and big data (58%), and enterprise mobility (58%).

This will come as little surprise to most, as when expanded to a global viewpoint, these areas already had an incredible impact on innovation throughout 2014. Globally, CIOs highlighted big data (70%), application management (68%), mobility (67%) and security (64%).

Increased investment across these spaces is therefore quite logical in a region that reflects the global market and is likely to continue throughout 2015. But is it that simplistically uniform across individual industries?

Different climates

While these trends can be observed across the board, there are interesting variations, with some industries valuing specific technologies more highly than others. For example, 76% of manufacturing respondents in the survey placed the Internet of Things as a critical or high priority for the coming year (compared to the average of 62%).

This is a reflection of the enormous potential manufac­turers see in collecting real-time usage and performance statistics from industrial equipment and consumer products. In fact, Cisco estimates that by 2020 50 million objects could be connected across the supply chain.

Equally, 64% of IT leaders across industries are investing heavily in big data, but among healthcare executives that figure rises to 74%, playing a major role in using sophisticated analytics to determine which treatments are most and least effective, and which risk factors pose the greatest risk to patient wellness. The results are plain to see, with 90 percent of surveyed healthcare CIOs saying that big data is positively impacting productivity and efficiency, versus the 75% average. The UK government’s initiatives to digitalise the NHS are a prime example of this in action.

Armoured hull

Underlying all of this is the somewhat unsurprising reality, that the issue that tops global CIO concerns across the board, for the second year in a row, is security. With over three quarters (77%) of UK respondents naming it as the most important technology initiative for 2015, it is once again set to dominate the agenda.

When it goes wrong, it really goes wrong and we need look no further than the recent Sony hack to see that. We can certainly expect to see a continued and significant rise in substantial investment in cyber security.

While the number of digital services grows arithmetically, the potential cyber threat is growing exponentially and, as trust plays an absolutely central role in user interaction, iron-clad cyber security is, and will continue to be, vital.

>See also: Why CIOs need to drive digital transformation

It therefore comes as little surprise that 74% of UK CIOs are heavily investing in this area, and the other 26% have made moderate investment but expect this to ramp up.

This is systematic across both public and private sectors, but heavily regulated industries, subject to stringent data privacy policies, like healthcare and financial services, continue to show an even greater concern.

The forecast

CIOs are perfectly positioned to drive businesses forward through 2015. The stiller economic waters and the ever more digitalised marketplace provide CIOs with the perfect opportunity to take a dominant role in powering enterprise success and business growth through technological-driven innovation.

To achieve this they are placing even greater faith in disruptive next-generation technologies to harness newfound efficiency, flexibility and performance levels and drive competitive advantage.

There are subtle specialisations across industry boundaries, but security remains a unifying concern that must remain at the forefront of the mind. CIOs must take advantage of more stable times and prepare their organisations for the inevitable storm clouds brewing on the not so distant horizon, as forward thinking competitors spy the next innovative technology wave.


Sourced from Sanjiv Gossain, CSC

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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