8 things that should be on every CIO's to-do list

As the role of the CIO evolves, these professionals must ensure they have the business expertise to aid in digital transformation efforts.

How to create a digital culture At the 2018 MIT CIO Symposium, Liberty Mutual's Andrei Oprisan explained why legacy companies must adopt the culture of digital natives.

As a CIO's responsibilities shift from the technical to the business amid digital transformation efforts, these professionals must keep certain items top of mind on their to-do list to keep the business relevant, according to Moshe Kranc, CTO of Ness Digital Engineering.

Traditionally, the CIO's responsibilities were purely technical, and anyone on the business side who needed something had to go to them and ask. That often led to slowdowns, which then led to the rise of shadow IT, and business professionals working around the CIO to get things done faster, Kranc said.

"To survive now, a CIO has to be a lot more business-savvy, and a lot more responsive to the pace of business and the needs of business-facing people who are worrying about digital transformation," Kranc said. "The job has changed quite a lot."

SEE: Special report: Digital transformation: A CXO's guide (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Most budgets are also now on the business side of the house rather than the technical side, so a CIO looking to fund a project needs a business-side partner, Kranc said.

Here are eight things that every CIO should have on their to-do list as the role continues to evolve, according to Kranc.

1. Reevaluate your cloud strategy

Many companies are change-averse when it comes to moving critical workloads to the cloud; however, it's likely that there are apps running on-prem that would be far less costly to run in the cloud, Kranc said. Serverless computing is also a game-changer for apps that run occasionally. Cloud security continues to improve, and "the cost arguments are so overwhelming," Kranc added. Businesses should avoid becoming overly dependent on a single cloud provider, and embrace hybrid applications, he said.

2. Invest in updating legacy systems

Organizations need to avoid becoming complacent with legacy systems and increasing technical debt, Kranc said. "When technical debt accumulates, at some point it becomes extremely expensive and near impossible to do the modernization that's needed," he added. "Don't wait until that update becomes mission-critical."

A hidden cost also arises in regard to employees, as it becomes difficult to find people who are willing to work with outdated technologies, Kranc said. "You need to plan a course where you'll end up having attractive jobs with attractive technology that engineers want to work in," he added.

SEE: Special report: The art of the hybrid cloud (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

3. Re-evaluate your analytics strategy

Businesses across all industries are using advanced analytics to gain a competitive edge, Kranc said. "You can't ignore the benefits of analytics and you can't be left behind," he added. "You've got to start by benchmarking where you are and where you stand relative to the best of your competitors and then figure out what's stopping you from getting at least that same level of insight."

Some of the reasons companies tend to fall behind on analytics are a lack of clean data, siloed data, and lack of data science talent, Kranc said. Whatever the case, organizations must create a roadmap that gets them closer to being able to gain those insights.

4. Invest in improving the quality of your data.

The top culprit is typically dirty data, which doesn't create reliable insights, Kranc said. Organizations must start with a project to cleanse their data, and can seek out tools that automate the process.

"You've got to formulate a roadmap that gets you at least at par with your industry because otherwise you're flying blind and you're not going to be able to keep up," Kranc said.

5. Plan for growth in your transactional needs

CIOs must anticipate future growth, and scale up in advance, Kranc said. For example, you may have a single server, but as your business grows, that won't be enough over time, he added.

"You need to identify any kind of inflection point that is coming, and create a roadmap to transition to the next right paradigm," Kranc said. "Anticipate it and prepare a roadmap so that you don't end up with a crisis and something that might turn out the lights."

6. Plan to support new digital transformation initiatives

Despite different definitions of digital transformation, "it's happening," Kranc said. "Your business side of the house is expecting to make you revenue from these digital transformation apps."

However, CIOs can't just add new digital apps onto existing backend systems, he added. "You've got to take into account the volume and the response time of these digital apps and you've got to also take into account the ability to support multiple channels," Kranc said. Determining if you can support API-based interfaces is also key, he added.

"Don't just assume that you're existing infrastructure can support all these new digital transformation initiatives," Kranc said. "You have to plan ahead so that they don't collapse."

7. Plan to invest in security

Just because your organization has not yet been attacked does not mean it is secure, Kranc said.

"Hackers have business plans—they're well-funded, and there's more of them with more IT than you have on your team probably," Kranc said. "Don't assume that you have the smarts to trump them all or that there's some single move that makes you secure forever. It's a never ending cat-and-mouse game."

This means investing is security is critical for CIOs, Kranc added.

8. Consider GDPR and other data privacy regulations

Companies based in the US must still be aware of privacy regulations in areas like the EU with GDPR, and Canada. CIOs must ensure that systems are built to handle such data privacy requirements to avoid repercussions, Kranc said.

Also see

istock-912675036.jpg
Image: iStockphoto/Pinkypills

By Alison DeNisco Rayome

Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.