It is no exaggeration to say that the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have turned many organisations on their heads. It has proved to be the catalyst many CIOs needed to adopt changes they have long known their organisation needed to make. Technology has been instrumental in the accelerated digital transformation we have been seeing across several industries. But as we move into the ‘new normal’ what are the areas that savvy CIOs will need to concentrate on over the course of 2022?
1. IT’s changing role
During the pandemic, IT departments have pivoted away from being a function that is simply about feeding and watering boxes and wires, to one which is instrumental to driving digital capabilities throughout the entire organisation.
For CIOs, 2022 will be the year that the job finally moves away from just looking after infrastructure. Rather, they will need to think differently about where the organisation could go and what their leadership can do for them. Likewise, organisations won’t be able to pivot without having digital leadership properly challenging the business to re-think. Therefore, to not only survive, but thrive, organisations will need to put technology leaders on the board at the sharp end of decision making.
2. Using RPA for more business functions
Many organisations have already adopted robotic process automation (RPA) to remove time-sapping tasks from staff so that they can focus on more experiences that will cultivate customer loyalty. Thus far, however, RPA has been primarily used by business functions such as finance, HR, and IT. In 2022, I believe that data and risk management will become a core driver of RPA. Wherever you can use the ability of bots to not do anything unexpected it really plays to that compliance and audit aspect. Because they’re not going to deviate or do anything other than what they’re expected to, there’s a direct risk mitigation aspect to their role. I, therefore, expect to see organisations move some tasks where the risk of human error is high to RPA.
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3. Improving experience throughout the customer journey
The digital transformation we are now seeing is more tactical. It focusses on the way people are approaching problems versus the technology itself. With the increasing power of technology, being able to connect services, data and customer interactions is just a small part of what is possible. In 2022, CIOs will look at how they can leverage the data they’ve got on a customer within the business to make their life simpler across the entire customer journey. CIOs will use the tools at their disposal to create a digital experience that consumers today expect.
4. Using technology to accurately predict, pre-empt and pre-authorise
In 2022, CIOs will increasingly look at the information they have at their fingertips and use it to understand where demand is coming from. Whilst demand has undoubtably shifted – due in no small part from the myriad of global lockdowns – supply has shifted too. There have been widespread supply issues that have required organisations to be more agile than ever before. In 2022, CIOs will better use data to accurately predict, pre-empt and pre-authorise processes within the business to ensure that the business can continue to compete.
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5. Better harnessing the power of data
CIOs already understand the power of what can be done with the 1s and 0s they have within the business, but they are still only scratching the surface. Think about the world of IoT and in-home tech solutions like sensors. By harnessing the power of these data sets, a business could theoretically condense the number of staff required. In many industries, this couldn’t have come at a better time. We are seeing a skills shortage brought on by the pandemic, Brexit and inflation. If certain customer-facing roles could be switched with data specialists, analysts and home tech specialists, you end up shifting the narrative and allowing yourself the space to deal with a much wider range of challenges.
6. Improving staff wellbeing through technology
Across all industries, there is currently an acute need to manage staff wellbeing. Whilst there were plenty of issues before the pandemic, many have been intensified over the past year and a half. Never has there been a better time to identify and measure where the biggest problems are within the organisation and address them urgently. In 2022, technology will increasingly be used to help. One of its main benefits is that it takes emotion out of the equation. If decisions and plans are based on data, it is easier for businesses to remain objective and respond to the issues that have been identified as causing problems for the general productivity and wellbeing of their people.
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7. Further moving operations into the cloud
I don’t think any business would disagree that they need to move to the cloud if they are to become a true digital enabler. For example, if the organisation wants to best use machine learning to predict demand or understand how to communicate with customers, most can’t afford the computing power to do it properly.
Most of the spend on innovation today continues to be in the cloud. There are hundreds of digital services released each quarter by the big tech vendors and very few of them are now built with on-premises usage in mind. The big three cloud providers themselves spent just under £70 billion on development last year. That’s a figure all businesses should be taking advantage of in 2022.
8. The climate emergency will drive transformation
Quite rightly, the climate emergency will continue to be on everyone’s minds in 2022. In the light of the recent COP26 summit that monopolised headlines for weeks, numerous governments and respected organisations have declared a climate emergency. There should be no more burying of heads in the sand. Moving to the cloud is a no-brainer for any business with environmental aspirations. Plus, with all three big cloud providers declaring they’ll be carbon negative by 2030, let alone carbon neutral, there is yet another compelling reason to head to the cloud.