Back in 1964, Bob Dylan sang "The times they are a-changin'" and that's exactly what's happening for CIOs as we look ahead to 2013. Everyone is looking ahead to next year and beyond as the changes that are already happening work their way into both large and small enterprises. If we are to believe Gartner, then one of the biggest changes will be the need for CIOs to emerge from their IT silos and work in harmony with CEOs and COOs to help companies balance the rapid technological shifts with the need to meet business and strategic goals in a still-uncertain economic market.
Those technological shifts are a big part of the general uncertainty, with Gartner predicting big shifts in the IT services market as cloud, big data, social and mobile services start to come together. CIOs can expect to spend a lot of time on sourcing vendors with staying power in the year to come as mergers and acquisitions will take some of the biggest players out of the game. Meanwhile, those providing low-cost cloud services will rise. That could make it a good year for CIOs to shift their enterprises to the cloud but make sure that these providers also support mobile, social and big data, if that's what you need.
The shift towards cloud and mobile technology will bring other headaches for IT departments, who should prepare to support an increasing range of mobile devices. Resisting the trend will be career suicide. That means those who haven't already started to put policies in place to deal with this should do so soon, as Gartner's prediction suggests that having a bring your own device (BYOD) policy will be a must. Even if your enterprise decides to go the corporately owned personally responsible (COPE) this new openness will bring increased responsibilities for IT leaders. As Gartner points out, IT security professionals will need to be alert for warnings of new malware, viruses and security threats to maintain the integrity of company data. And CIOs will need to make sure that every employee is educated about device security, passwords and handling malware.
We have already seen the explosion of social. Recent research from Pew Research Center shows that 60 percent of Americans use social media sites. The numbers are similar for Canadians. With much of the key customer base online, there are changes ahead for how businesses operate and CIOs are in the frontline. The Gartner research shows a time when 40 percent of company contact information will be on Facebook which raises both the security issue and the issue of managing social media interactions. CIOs will need to take an active role in crafting social media policies that meet the needs of a range of users.
They will also need to help companies harvest the increasing quantities of social data. Integrating business an analytics systems will become a key part of the CIOs role and CIOs will find themselves working more collaboratively across the company to provide and analyze actionable business intelligence. IT will no longer be a silo, but a function that crosses and enhances all business sectors. The result? New hires in IT won't just have to know about servers and networking, but will need a range of business, analytical and soft skills. In particular, IT professionals should start planning now for the big data explosion. With predictions of 4.4 million jobs worldwide by 2014, this is a growth area.
Harnessing social won't just be about looking outward to what customers are doing and managing your reputation, it will also be about integrating those technologies into the way the company operates. CIOs will have to create, source and support enterprise social tools. The trend is to providing more information, in real-time, to those who need it and speeding internal communication with technologies that mimic the ease built into social sites. Status updates may well replace email for communicating certain types of information.
Looking further ahead, CIOs should start preparing now for even smarter technology. Gartner predicts that wearable smart electronics will be a $10 billion industry by 2016. That means more data streams and marketing channels – and may bring a whole new meaning to BYOD!
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