The findings of our 2021 CIO and IT Leadership Survey revealed that IT leaders and their teams have had a great opportunity to show their value in responding to the pandemic. This increased visibility of business dependence on technology can be used to drive the strategic agenda in 2021 and beyond, demonstrating that IT does not just deliver solutions for the business but can also lead business transformation.
Over half of respondents of the 2021 survey stated they are still on a journey to be digitally mature, while those that are already mature will still need to keep up with emerging trends and keep a close eye on costs. While many believe that digital is still the answer, IT leaders need to work with the business to establish the specific questions and drive the right technology solutions to achieve business goals.
With Brexit finally completed and with some idea on a timeframe for the end of the pandemic, we predict that the focus of digital acceleration for the remainder of 2021 will be as follows:
Cloud: The fact that nearly two thirds of respondents stated cloud has been prioritised shows moving to the cloud is still a huge focus for IT leaders. For many larger, established companies this still remains a challenge, while new start up and disruptive companies are naturally using public cloud solutions to maximise speed to market and optimise the cost base.
While complex, especially when there is a larger legacy estate, we recommend that IT leaders review the flexibility, efficiencies and carbon savings that can be gained over the long-term from implementing cloud solutions.
Customer Channels and Data: We envisage a greater focus on multi-directional and multi-experience customer-centric business models, supported by customer data, to prepare for future eventualities and changes in consumer behaviour.
Given the potential of online service capabilities to reach customers in new and different ways and to provide enhanced services, organisations can look to acquire as well as retain customers. Through the right customer engagement strategies, partnerships and investments in technology such as CRM and CX, IT can help the business to accelerate revenues through customer experience improvements.
These strategies must balance remote connectivity, new and existing channels and self-service (e.g. chatbots), while recognising not all users are ready to move completely online.
Cost Optimisation / Accelerate Revenue: Ensuring that budgets are being used for innovation rather than ‘keeping the lights on’ means that IT leaders who have a comprehensive view of their running costs and know where savings can be made, working with business colleagues that focus on partnerships to co-innovate and spread the financial risk will be better able to balance cost and revenue as well as accelerate transformational change.While Agile and DevOps are becoming more common, many business leaders are still not comfortable with the MVP and ‘fail fast’ approaches that support increased innovation, speed to market and technology flexibility.IT leaders now have an opportunity to champion the benefit of MVP solutions as both achievable and beneficial. Additionally, agile ways of working will also require shared delivery accountability and flexibility from suppliers, which in turn will require more disruptive IT sourcing strategies.
End User Solutions: Working from home is no longer a nice-to-have but a necessity for most (originally) office-based employees. Indeed, many organisations are finding that traditionally office-based functions such as operations are now more efficient. Continuing to evolve remote working capability whilst addressing ‘quick fixes’ made in 2020 and delivering enhanced user experiences will be a priority in 2021 and beyond.
IT leaders can work in partnership with business colleagues to ensure that organisations have a clear Digital Workplace Strategy that effectively combines remote and office working. This will require robust identity management and security policies as well as developing new principles around ways of working. IT teams will need to help drive this strategy and work with their suppliers to define, design and implement suitable infrastructure that can be scaled on demand with simple, automated, tools and processes.
To view the 2021 CIO and IT Leadership Survey, 'Acceleration' please click here.