CIOs in 2019 had digital transformation plans as clear as driving on flat country road surrounded by blue skies. But something called COVID-19 created a global pandemic, causing a major detour and forcing you to adjust your digital transformation route. Indeed, the technology strategies from just three years ago look much different in the rear-view mirror.
The most popular adjustment has been the revolutionary shift from office work to hybrid work. Whereas this change was initially based on supplying teams with temporary video conferencing capabilities and the right security protocols, companies now recognize that remote and hybrid work is not only the present, it’s also the future. To align that vision with new employee demands, businesses understand that they must now compete for talent based on their culture, not solely on generous salary and benefits packages.
While CIOs have to foster a successful hybrid work roadmap, it’s essential that they enhance how employees share knowledge and information when they’re working in different locations around the country – even around the globe. And in context of The Great Resignation, leaders face the challenge of capturing and retaining knowledge for the revolving door of new workers to access. In fact, access to legacy data and information must be a priority.
Portals, content management systems, and document-sharing tools help in that regard, but many CIOs are bringing enterprise search technologies back to the fore as well. These technologies are essential for today’s enterprises, as they support all aspects of employee knowledge sharing, customer service activities, and the most common customer needs.
To that end, CIOs should further initiatives around natural language querying, automatic relevance tuning, and content recommendation engines. Doing so will quicken the pace of enterprise search platform deployments and improve user experiences.
In another post-pandemic adjustment, IT leaders are reflecting on their level of agility from the prior two years. Specifically, they’re evaluating how successfully they adapted to shifts in customer requirements and associated changes in the supply chain. Those in retail wonder how quickly they began to support in-store pickups. Medical organizations question if they adopted telehealth technologies with the right strategy. Leaders in the financial services sector speculate if their marketing initiatives were executed correctly in response to volatile financial conditions.
CIOs have taken a page from business to consumer (B2C) organizations, centralizing knowledge of customers and their interactions. This is essential for B2B businesses that offer multiple products and services with longer-term contracts. While some technology leaders centralize customer data in lakes and warehouses, more of them increasingly understand the inherent (and potential) complications of doing so: They must load, normalize, and store disparate data sets such as customer profiles, events, and transactions. That’s why we’re seeing the growth of customer data platforms (CDPs), which employ machine learning to predict customer actions.
Digital transformation has always involved a major shift to the cloud, and now that trend is increasing. CIOs are addressing the flourishing landscape of managing hybrid clouds, multi-cloud architectures, and micro-services. In fact, the CIOs that are pushing digital transformations are adopting new applications – and in the process, increasing the amount of data at a rate much faster than they can halt the use of legacy systems.
Digital transformation plans must also consider contingencies beyond the next 2-3 years – they should forecast how to support innovation and operations over the next decade or so. Thoughtful CIOs have already invested in agile management tools, ITSM platforms, DevOps automation technologies, and knowledge management tools to support workflows for today, for 2032, and beyond.
That said, many IT departments haven’t been nearly as efficient as they planned. Some tools aren’t fully optimized, while others wait to be completely integrated. This creates unnecessary complexities when collaborating within most, if not all, of the departments across the organization.
And make no mistake – this chaotic technical environment may be the central issue that hinders true digital transformation. CIOs need to look past tactical tool selection and more toward standards that align with the desired digital transformation position.
There’s no better time to begin this shift than the present. When we reach the end of the 2020s, an increasing number of organizations will offer AI-enabled experiences based on real-time data. Meanwhile, AR/VR, voice experiences, NFTs, and cryptocurrencies will create the groundwork for Web3. This isn’t breaking news to most CIOs. The challenge is how they can use these soon-to-come trends to accelerate their digital transformations.