It's hard to believe, but two years have passed since CIOs could look to the future and not see a pandemic. Since 2020, IT strategy has been dictated by a crisis that required substantial and specific adjustments to business operations and working environments. While the pandemic will certainly impact businesses into this year and beyond, many CIOs I know are collaborating with their leadership teams to rethink their technology strategies of the past two years and replot their digital transformation roadmaps.
What's on the minds of IT and business leaders that will drive digital transformation trends in 2022? Here are five key areas CIOs are focusing on as we move out of crisis mode and into the future.
1. Evolve to meet the future of hybrid work
The shift to remote work was about providing employees the hardware, video conferencing capabilities, and security protocols to support working from home. Some progressive IT departments had modernized their programs prior to the pandemic, developing low-code and no-code applications to replace manual work and collaborations that didn't have defined workflows or tooling. Others accelerated application modernizations and public cloud migrations to support the business through a crisis.
In 2022, the most advanced organizations recognize that hybrid work models represent the future. Businesses will compete for talent based on their culture, policies, and on the technologies that enable work productivity and life flexibility. Leading technologies for hybrid work should include collaboration tools, learning management systems, and a review of performance management software. CIOs should align performance goals with business outcomes, agile collaboration, experimentation, and learning practices, while steering away from specifics on where, when, and how people work.
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2. Enhance knowledge sharing with intelligent search
Supporting hybrid work is just the beginning: CIOs must consider how to improve knowledge sharing when employees can't easily gather around the water cooler. As important, organizations experiencing high turnover and talent competition must prioritize capturing and retaining knowledge.
In addition to collaboration, portals, content management, and document-sharing tools, progressive CIOs are revisiting their enterprise search technologies. These technologies are foundational to modern enterprises, supporting all aspects of employee knowledge sharing, customer support functions, and many customer experiences.
For organizations that invested in enterprise search pre-pandemic, there are many advances to consider, including natural language querying, automatic relevance tuning, and content recommendation engines. These capabilities should help CIO accelerate and simplify enterprise search platform deployments and improve end-user experiences.
It's hard to think of another technology with a wider scope of customer and employee-facing use cases -- from revenue generation in ecommerce systems to efficiencies in manufacturing. Plus, many IT departments can find cost savings by consolidating legacy search index implementations. So this year's trend will be to dust the cobwebs off poor search experiences, clunky data integrations, and algorithms driven by heuristics and replace them with more intelligent search capabilities.
3. Adopt customer data platforms to capture revenue, opportunities
In 2022, IT and business leaders are taking a step back, looking at their organizations' agility and nimbleness over 2020 and 2021, and evaluating how well they pivoted to changing customer needs and supply chain risks. How fast did retailers support in-store pickups, hospitals adjust to telehealth technologies, or financial service companies reset their marketing program in response to volatile financial conditions?
Centralizing knowledge of customers and their direct and indirect interactions has always been important in B2C (business to consumer) companies and became a top priority as customer needs and opportunities shifted during the pandemic. It's becoming equally important in B2B businesses, especially those that sell multiple products and services over longer-term durations.
While some CIOs may centralize customer data in proprietary developed data lakes and warehouses, more IT leaders will recognize the complication of loading, normalizing, cleansing, and storing customer profiles, events, and transactions. It's one reason that customer data platforms (CDPs) are on the rise, as these platforms have the underlying infrastructure to centralize data, use machine learning to predict customer behaviors, and tools to integrate with marketing and other customer interaction systems.
4. Embrace AIOps to support multicloud and microservices
Digital and technology organizations must also address the growing landscape and complexity of managing hybrid clouds, multicloud architectures, and microservices. Many CIOs investing in digital transformation are adding new applications and growing data volumes faster than they can sunset legacy systems. And these apps, integrations, and data lakes are more mission-critical, so businesses expect high service level objectives and increased automation from IT Ops supporting these technologies.
Enter AIOps technologies that aim to help IT Ops leverage machine learning around all their monitoring tools and observability data. These technologies aggregate the data, use machine learning to correlate alerts, and help network operations centers (NOCs) identify root causes faster. Most of these technologies also connect with ITSM, collaboration, and other automation tools to trigger communications and scripted responses. They also help NOCs develop a single pane of glass around their applications and databases running in public clouds, data centers, and edge computing.
5. Integrate Agile, DevOps, and ITSM platforms to drive continuous transformation
Lastly, it's time to clean IT's house to better support innovation and operations over the next decade. Many IT departments invested in agile management tools, ITSM platforms, DevOps automation technologies, tools to support the program management office (PMO), and knowledge management tools to support their workflows. And, not surprisingly, many of these IT departments are a lot like sales, marketing, and other service-oriented departments -- they are bogged down by multiple tools that aren't optimized or integrated. The lack of integration results in complexities when working with stakeholders, workflows that are less optimized, and metrics that require more data wrangling to produce.
In my opinion, cleaning this up is the biggest IT issue in transforming into a digital organization. Modern platforms support ITSM and agile workflows and enable integrations with DevOps tools. It's really up to CIOs and their leadership teams to drive the digital transformation so that tech teams look beyond their tool preferences and are on board with creating standards.
And why do this now? It's because there will be significant technological progress over the next five years. We'll see more organizations bring IoT and real-time data processing deployed to the edge and develop AI-enabled experiences from this data. AR/VR, voice experiences, NFTs, and cryptocurrencies will break through from their emerging tech status and pave the way for Web 3.0.
The question is, are CIOs and IT leaders ready to accelerate their digital transformation? Investments in enterprise search, CDPs, AIOps, and agile collaboration platforms will pave the way for innovation and business transformation.
Review the top 5 digital transformation trends of 2021
- Agile goes deeper into the enterprise - ClOs expand agile practices across departments to reshape business models and change company culture. Multidisciplinary agile teams include teammates from marketing, operations, finance, HR and sales.
- Low-code use cases focus on customer and employee experiences - Digital leaders use a mix of low-code, remote process automation and integration technologies to improve customer and employee experiences at greater scale.
- Cloud computing service providers enable multi-cloud architectures - Supporting multi-cloud environments becomes easier with vendor platforms that help IT manage system resources and Kubernetes clusters across multiple clouds and also enable edge computing for low-latency workloads.
- Real-time data processing and event-driven architectures go mainstream - It's not just for financial services giants—new cloud architectures that scale on demand, open source data platforms, real-time data streaming platforms and event-driven architectures give ClOs the tools to update data in real time.
- Simplified MLOps brings machine learning from POC to production - The enterprise's dismal track record on bringing machine learning models into production will improve in 2021, as more organizations understand and reap the benefits of MLOps.
Source: Isaac Sacolick
Isaac Sacolick, President of StarCIO, guides companies through smarter, faster, innovative, and better digital transformation programs that deliver business results. He is the author of the Amazon bestseller, Driving Digital: The Leader's Guide to Business Transformation through Technology, which covers agile, devops, data science, and other critical digital transformation practices. Sacolick is a recognized top social CIO, digital transformation influencer, industry speaker, and blogger at Social, Agile and Transformation.