The Top 4 Priorities for CIOs in 2016

CIOs should look at 2016 as the ‘The Year of Enablement’. This may sound strange but bear with me. We are all becoming increasingly aware of workplace trends such as mobile BYOD, the democratization of the workplace, collaboration and flexible employees that need to work from anywhere. No longer can these pervasive trends be ignored, they are not simply ‘buzz words’ to be paid lip service to, they must be embraced by organizations of all sizes who hope to unlock the productivity of the workforce, compete, survive, attract and keep talented individuals in 2016. ‘Organizations… are taking steps to enable employees, partners, contractors and even customers with the apps, devices and services they need to be productive, while also securing increasingly mobile workforces.’ OKTA. CIOs should lead this enablement. This post attempts to provide a simple blueprint of 4 priorities for a CIO looking to be recognized as a leader of positive transformation from the C-Suite, through to all employees at every level.
1.     Keep it Simple and Easy
‘As tech becomes more user-friendly, CIOs will also work to reduce complexity for IT. “As we make technology simpler to use, we’re at the same time making it more complicated and expensive for IT to manage,” said Stu Kippelman, CIO at Platform Specialty Products Corp. While his priority will be driving business results through technology, “it will also be to simplify what technologies we use and how we use them.”’ Good technology is simple and effective, look for technologies that seek to remove complexity and you will be thanked by IT, management and users. Advancements in applications have made the user experience better and simpler as well as deployment and installation easier and quicker.
“User experience is the number one priority for the technology side of [my job],” David Kline, CIO and CTO at Viacom Inc. (CIO Journal)
2. BYOD and Mobile
As I explained in my previous post, one of the most pervasive workplace trends is the blurring of our work and personal lives and with that, a desire to work anywhere. Smartphones are breaking down artificial boundaries of work being ‘a place to go’ and transforming it into ‘a thing to do’ – the potential productivity gains from this empowerment are huge. Not only do workers want a mobile toolkit, they need one to do their jobs productively. 2016 is the year to empower employees through mobile and fill this productivity gap. ‘Shrewd businesses have figured out that when employees can use their personal devices for work.. they’re happier and more productive.’  ‘increasing numbers of organisations have already or are launching bring-your-own-device (BYOD) initiatives. Studies by Forrester Research found that 31% of midsize companies were planning to implement a BYOD deployment model for smartphones within a year, and 34% planned to implement a BYOD deployment model for tablets in a year or more.’ Applications and technology exist to allow users to bring their own devices whilst ensuring corporate security, so there are no longer any excuses.
3. The Cloud and its Silver Lining
The decision to move to the cloud can be daunting but, as  John Engates, CTO of Rackspace Hosting said in a recent study; “The bottom line is that cloud saves companies money and increases their profits.” Hard to argue with when you see the results.  Rackspace’s study found that 88 percent of cloud users pointed to cost savings and 56 percent of respondents agreed that cloud services have helped them boost profits. Additionally, 60 percent of respondents said cloud computing has reduced the need for their IT team to maintain infrastructure, a thought echoed by the CEO of Microsoft in their first quarter earnings transcript. Satya Nadella CEO: ‘Overall what we are seeing is the public cloud, or cloud infrastructure makes it much more possible for businesses of all sizes and developers of all sizes to get at infrastructure with much less friction than ever before.’ 62 percent of the companies that have saved money are reinvesting those savings back into the business to increase headcount, boost wages and drive product innovation. The cloud certainly does have a silver lining.
4. Connect Devices, Applications and People
If a company’s people, devices and applications aren’t connected, they cannot succeed in 2016. Many companies are adopting a new suite of applications and processes, to digitally transform and launch into the future workplace. I am particularly referring to the prevalent upgrade to Microsoft Office 365 (the bedrock of Microsoft for the Enterprise). Employees are now being given exciting new technology and a set of tools that promise to help them work better and become more productive. Businesses are often finding and will find, however, that the applications in their toolkit are disconnected, leaving employees feeling confused and disengaged. The question for 2016 is: how will you unlock the productivity improvements promised by the Office 365 and other toolkits and, crucially, what plans do you have to ensure that your people, devices and applications are connected to each other? Look for applications that glue everything together, that provide a seamless experience and the ability to gain access to content and share from anywhere.
These 4 crucial priorities should be the bedrock of a 2016 strategy – simplicity, BYOD, cloud and connection. A CIO can utilise these 4 elements as a means of achieving crucial business goals, enabling productivity of the workforce ensuring growth.