Top Ten CIO Concerns For 2016 – IT’s Déjà Vu All Over Again

The Society for Information Management (SIM), God bless their souls, recently announced the results of their annual survey of what Chief Information Officers (CIOs) believe are the most important issues they will face in 2016. IT’s getting a lot of attention – again.

I cannot stop myself from responding.

Here’s the list, my thoughts and recommendations.

  1. Technology Alignment with the Business

This has been a theme for decades! At least since I was a graduate student – decades and decades ago – “alignment” has been “required” of IT and the business. Yes, IT needs to understand what the business does, what the priorities are and who the key business stakeholders are. They also need to understand how profit margins are created across the business units. Finally, they need to help business units strategize about how operational, strategic and especially emerging technologies can help them succeed.

Anything new here?

  1. Security & Privacy

Here we go again. Security and privacy have been in the top ten for years. Who doesn’t believe that data must be secure and that privacy, especially in the age of social media, the sharing economy and digital payment systems, is important? Who? Who? Who doesn’t want to be secure?Who doesn’t want digital privacy? Is the objective more complicated than it was? Obviously it is, because transactions are increasingly digital, because cash is disappearing and because global transaction processing is pervasive and continuous. The real problem with security and privacy is not with CIOs and their business unit partners, but with CFO’s loathe to spend enough money to make data and transactions more secure.

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Nothing new here either: security and privacy are still concerns and CFOs are always looking for ways to cut costs.

  1. Speed of IT Delivery and Time-to-Market

This is why God made cloud providers. Delivery speed has always been a concern. How many times have you heard: “why does it take so long to upgrade an application?” “It takes how longto replace our laptops?” “How could it possibly take years to install an ERP system and why does it cost so damn much?” Cloud delivery of infrastructure (IaaS) and applications (SaaS) – as well as support for the development of new applications (PaaS) – has dramatically shortened development and deployment lifecycles and reduced costs. While there will always be complaints about speed and cost, the cloud has taken much of the pressure off IT professionals and their business unit partners.

Even CFOs like clouds.

Old news: cloud computing has been around for a long time and everyone wants things to go faster, cheaper and better.

  1. Innovation

If you ask a CIO – any CIO – if he or she wants to innovate – every one of them on planet Earth will say “yes.” “Hell, yes,” most of them will say. Remember, they are required to say “yes.” But most of them usually fail when they try to innovate. So why do we ask them year after year if innovation is important? Of course it is – and always will be. They just don’t know how to do it. They don’t have the ideas, the money, the teams or the time.

What else is new?

  1. Business Productivity & Efficiency

Who doesn’t want to be more productive and efficient? Some of these rankings remind me of management gurus who say things like “you need to hire the right people.” But how many CIOs understand the business models and process they support with technology well enough to improve them? Not many. I see why they might list business productivity and efficiency as concerns. I would too if I wasn’t sure how to proceed.

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