We are about to turn the corner into 2018, so if you're a CIO, 'tis the season to reflect on your wish list for the new year. But you probably already know that just wishing won't get you the results you want.
Here some strategies to help you achieve some items that might be on the list:
1.Wasting less time in meetings
Meetings can eat up a lot of time and resources. If you're the CIO, you probably have a lot of control over the frequency and duration of meetings. When discussions reach a stalemate, table the issues for another time. When discussions get off track, intercede and recenter them.
When meetings are called by your superior, these options aren't open to you—but in many cases you can prevent meetings by being proactive and working to resolve issues before they ripen into meeting agenda items.
2. Reducing stress
It's no secret that the tech world can be a high-pressure, stressful place — especially if you're the one in charge. According to Business Insider, well-known tech leaders all have their ways of dealing with stress. Bill Gates and Warren Buffett advise reserving time for hobbies and taking that time, no matter what. Apple's CEO Tim Cook encourages leaders to maintain a focus on positive thinking, no matter how many cynics and negative thinkers surround them, and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg turns the phone off at night.
If you are a CIO in a stressful environment, identifying your own channels for alleviating or reducing stress—and then taking time to decompress and recenter—can make a big difference in how you manage that stress.
SEE: How to create work-life balance in tech: 7 tips from the C-suite (TechRepublic)
3. Less angst about security
Career-ending events like 2017's Equifax security breach, and the shortage of cybersecurity experts in the job market might be keeping you up at night. Communicate your concerns (and what you are doing about them) to upper management and the board if you feel you have security exposures and you lack the skills or resources to address them. This is the time to ask for extra budget money if you have to bring in security experts or consultants to fill skills gaps, or to purchase security software or monitoring solutions. Cybersecurity and data compromise insurance policies and coverages should be reviewed. The keys are to be as aggressive as possible in addressing security—and to constantly keep the issue in front of the CEO and the board.
4. Doing more with the budget you have
According to Gartner, global IT spending will reach $3.7 trillion in 2018. CEOs and boards increasingly recognize that if they are going to transform their organizations, it will be done with technology. The challenge for CIOs is to ensure that this money is being well spent.
One way to do this is continuing the migration to cloud-based applications. This will reduce the dollars that are being spent on keeping internal data centers running, and paying for expensive on premises hardware and software licenses. The new year is also a good time to do an audit of existing IT assets and get rid of unused hardware and software.
SEE: Special report: Tech budgets 2018: A CXO's guide (free PDF) (ZDNet/TechRepublic)
5. Less maintenance time, more development time
Software maintenance eats up a lot of time and resources, and when your staff is doing maintenance, they can't move on to new projects. Much of this effort is spent on legacy systems.
If you're looking to reduce software maintenance time, consider gradually moving these systems to the cloud where vendors can take over maintenance. The trade-off is that you could lose some software customization capability for your business.
Another strategy is for reducing maintenance is making requirements for new apps more thorough from the get-go. You can also strengthen your QA on new apps to lessen the chance that apps will not meet company needs. For DevOps apps, consider QA automation software that can check out the front end interfaces of apps to make sure that navigation, links and field edits are all working as they should be.
SEE: Software quality control policy (Tech Pro Research)
6. Filling skills gaps
Skills shortages are not going away. They will continue to exist in DevOps, network security and data analytics/data science. To tackle this problem head-on, consider this four-prong strategy: First, inform your CEO, HR and the board of these shortages and how they affect IT and the company. Second, bring in consultants and experts to assume roles in the shortfall areas until you can fill the gaps with qualified staff. Third, identify future "stars" on your staff, and begin training them to fill key skills gaps. Fourth, look to work with local universities that have programs in data science, security, etc. In many cases, you can participate in curriculum planning and hire students as interns with plans to bring them on later as full-time employees. They might not know everything about your IT, but they are walking in the door with the rudiments of the skillsets that you need.
- Policy pack: Guidelines for new hires (Tech Pro Research)
- New equipment budget policy (Tech Pro Research)
- 8 digital transformation resolutions for CIOs in 2018 (TechRepublic)
- The 10 concerns keeping the C-suite up at night going into 2018 (TechRepublic)
- Why CIOs have bigger IT budgets for 2018, and what they're buying (ZDNet)
Mary E. Shacklett is president of Transworld Data, a technology research and market development firm. Prior to founding the company, Mary was Senior Vice President of Marketing and Technology at TCCU, Inc., a financial services firm; Vice President of Product Research and Software Development for Summit Information Systems, a computer software company; and Vice President of Strategic Planning and Technology at FSI International, a multinational manufacturing company in the semiconductor industry. Mary is a keynote speaker and has more than 1,000 articles, research studies, and technology publications in print.