6 Top Cio Priorities For 2021

6 Top CIO Priorities For 2021

In 2020, CIOs and other IT leaders have solved several unprecedented challenges and became key enablers in business continuity. CIOs are now in a dilemma regarding the orientation of their efforts and resources in 2021. While building resilience is still a priority, it’s time to plan for recovery post pandemic.

As millions of workers shifted to the remote setup, and customers moved online, businesses leveraged digital technologies to augment customer and employee experiences.

In a Harvey Nash/KPMG 2020 CIO survey, which polled 4,200 IT leaders, 61% of CIOs say they feel more influential than ever before, courtesy of their work to help hedge their businesses against the coronavirus.

However, rapid digital acceleration and adoption of cloud and other technologies have also brought many pressing issues to the forefront – the most significant one being the management of an increasingly complex IT infrastructure.

In a survey conducted among 1000 IT leaders, 63% reported technology management had become more difficult.

Yet, leaders globally have accepted the importance of technology as a business growth accelerator and will continue to work upon that in 2021 – even with tightened budget restrictions.

Let’s explore the top CIO priorities in 2021.

Top CIO Priorities For 2021

1. Low-code development

The onset of the coronavirus pandemic put immense pressure on the IT department to quickly develop new business apps to meet changing organizational needs. Faced with a massive resource crunch, many IT leaders implemented Low-code Application Platforms (LCAP) to enable business functions to develop and deploy custom apps quickly, and by themselves – with little to no reliance on IT.  These platforms don’t require users to have prior coding experience.

Low-code platforms empower pro and citizen developers alike to build apps seamlessly, using canvas and model-based scenarios and automated testing. With LCAPs, CIOs can save costs in the long run, as –

  • Less coding means more apps can be developed in a shorter period of time
  • With low-code requirements, basic and quick apps, can be developed by less experienced employees, while professional developers can create complex solutions – but in much less time and cost.

As companies continue to focus on agility in operations and make their way to recovery in 2021, implementing low-code platforms like Microsoft PowerApps will be a top CIO priority in 2021.

Learn More: How Low-Code Application Platforms Are Driving Agility In the New Normal

2. Getting To The Next Phase of Chatbot Maturity

AI-enabled chatbots and virtual assistants gained widespread popularity in 2020.

To reduce wait-time and provide support at scale at lower costs, leaders implemented AI bots that leveraged natural language processing to hold human-like conversations with customers and employees and resolve queries quickly.

We have seen companies implement multiple employee-facing chatbots for a variety of use cases – There is a chatbot for HR support, another chatbot for IT issues, one more bot to let employees access information from LoB systems.

In 2021, we will see CIOs unifying all these individualized bots into a single aggregator bot or an intelligent employee assistant to provide a consistent user experience and reduce maintenance costs.

Similarly many customer-facing chatbots that were deployed during the pandemic focused solely on delivering support and quick information. In 2021, as recovery and bottomline becomes critical, leaders will focus on building brand loyalty, driving retention and generating revenue through chatbots. Chatbot use cases will be expanded to upselling, cross-selling, providing personalized recommendations and user experiences.

As such, capabilities like conversational analytics, sentiment analysis, and omnichannel engagement will become critical.

3. Enabling The Return to workplace

Another critical area that CIOs will prioritize is preparing their organization for a hybrid workplace setup in 2021. This will include investing in the right technology needed for a safe and smooth transition back to the workplace while also ensuring the availability of better collaboration tools, resources, and training essential to function remotely for an effective hybrid model.

Leaders must strike a delicate balance between resuming standard operations and managing the realities of the post-COVID era, including redesigning workplaces and redefining workflows to keep employees safe, productive, and aligned.

Autonomous digital workplace platforms and low-code return-to-workplace apps are a few solutions CIOs can consider.

Learn More: Getting Ready for the Hybrid Workplace: The New Normal of Work

4. AIOps

Owing to the pandemic, organizations around the world adopted digital transformations at an accelerated pace to be able to function in a remote setup and build agility and resilience in their operations.

However, as the number of apps, servers, and systems grew, it gave rise to an increasingly complex IT infrastructure, which can no longer be managed and protected by traditional performance monitoring systems and human agents.  Even a single IT outage could cripple business operations and cost millions of rupees in revenue. As seen above, more than 60% of IT leaders felt technology management had become more difficult.

That’s where AIOps came into the picture. Artificial Intelligence for IT operations, also known as AIOps, leverages machine learning, big data, and analytics, analyzing heaps of IT data generated, diagnosing issues in real-time, improving application performance and uptime by predicting future outages, and reducing operations and maintenance expenditure.

Therefore, as businesses continue to operate in a highly dynamic and componentized IT landscape, the adoption and implementation of AIOps for IT operations management and cybersecurity will be a major CIO priority in 2021.

5. Reducing silos and streamlining the technology landscape

COVID-19 has accelerated digital transformation journeys and increased adoption of various AI and remote working technologies. While these initiatives did ensure business survival in 2020, they are now posing a new challenge – increased technological silos. In 2020, companies rushed into digital transformation – but with no solid strategy. We have seen the implementation of various siloed remote working apps, custom mobile apps, and several function-specific systems that have individualized use cases and served for one-off purposes.

Now is the time for CIOs to unify all these apps together with a Digital Experience Platform (DEX) and reduce silos. A DXP acts as a centralized digital platform which offers flexible app integrations and easy extensions for emerging business needs.

6. IT as an enabler of business growth

The drastic shift in consumer and employee habits has completely transformed the expectations from IT. For CIOs, the opportunities expand beyond routine – building digital capabilities and getting new tools and systems for the organization.

Instead, the expectation is to enhance core capabilities and align outcomes to key business goals. For example, say you are working to increase revenue by 10% through digital commerce. Everything you do, including your people, technologies, and processes, must then tie back to this goal in an outcome-driven environment.

Thus, reinforcing the role IT plays as a strategic enabler of business growth will be a top CIO priority in 2021.

Final Thoughts

As digital transformations have led the way for change in 2020, the role of CIOs has come to the forefront. They have not only ensured that businesses transition smoothly to a remote setup, but have also integrated operational continuity as a critical element in their overall IT strategy.

CIOs have been given buy-in from every level of the organization. In 2021, as the role of IT into a driver of business growth, there is an enormous opportunity for CIOs to transform and future-proof their businesses for a new normal.

If you’d like to learn more about this topic, please feel free to get in touch with one of our customer service transformation experts for a personalized consultation.