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The Road Ahead for CIOs: Insights on Strategic Priorities for the Remainder of 2023

CIOs from every industry and corner of the world are striving — and increasingly, struggling — to maintain growth in the face of economic turbulence. If you’re feeling the pressure, too, you’re not alone. To help CIOs and other C-suite leaders grapple with these multidimensional challenges, a cross-industry panel of Gartner experts recently convened to discuss current trends and how leaders can balance strategic growth bets with cost containment, prioritize investments in optimization and innovation, and align talent messages and commitments with top candidate expectations.  

I attended the virtual discussion, which included perspectives from specialists in the healthcare, banking, retail, and manufacturing and automotive industries, and we came away not only with fresh insights, but with an appreciation for the organizations and leaders pushing for true innovation despite ongoing challenges. Here are my top takeaways from the session.  

Fusion Teams are the Future 

The move toward “fusion teams” is a significant trend that began in 2022 and has gained traction in recent months. For many, this means transitioning to a product-oriented operating model in which product owners take responsibility for the entire product lifecycle. It also means CIOs must enable these multidisciplinary fusion teams with easy-to-use shared digital platforms and increased technical acumen across the enterprise.  

“By forming fusion teams as part of product teams, CIOs are able to dynamically staff resources they need based on the evolution of that product,” explained Mike Gilbert, Senior Director of Research at Gartner. “And it’s through taking ownership of the products that 1.) we’re able to democratize transformation and scale it in unprecedented ways, and 2.) we’re able to get the resources we need in the moment to evolve that product to achieve defined objectives.”  

The bottom line for CIOs? Foster digital judgment — a set of beliefs, mindsets, and behaviors that lead to sound risk management — in fusion team leaders in order to accelerate your digital transformation agenda without introducing additional enterprise risk. 

Attracting and Retaining Top Tech Talent is a Challenge Across Industries 

Talent remains a top priority (and challenge), and CIOs must consider how to develop and retain talent as well as attract it. Progressive CIOs, for example, are working on building a strategic technology workforce plan in conjunction with HR. These plans can’t be focused solely on bringing new talent in — CIOs must focus on reskilling and upskilling their employees while improving their value proposition beyond salary alone. These challenges are both ubiquitous and unique depending on the specific industry and geography.  

“There’s a longstanding problem, particularly in manufacturing plants, where many skilled specialists are aging out of the workforce, but there’s not a lot of backfill to replace them,” said Mike Ramsey, VP Analyst at Gartner. “Manufacturers are trying to hire and compete against top tech companies for software developers who can support their increasingly connected products, but they don’t have the draw that other more cutting-edge tech companies do. Oddly enough, I think the recent wave of tech layoffs will benefit legacy companies who can recruit these developers by touting the fact that they offer a more secure, established employment environment.” 

CIOs Who Can Define and Demonstrate Value Are Poised to Succeed 

Panelists anticipate that leading CIOs, given the current inflationary climate, will spend more time in the business executive side of their role and demonstrate with metrics and stories about how IT contributes to business value. To demonstrate this value, CIOs need to ask themselves questions like:  

  • Am I effective at driving costs out of the organization?  
  • Can I articulate and prove this value?  
  • Am I, as an IT leader, the right investment to grow the business?  

They will also be asked to help prioritize enterprise-wide digital investments and influence business capabilities and outcomes from their technology investments.  

Whether you’re a CIO looking to upskill your staff or fill roles with skilled IT professionals who can take your organization to the next level, partnering with a trusted consultative partner can help you bridge the tech talent and skills gap. For over 50 years, The Judge Group has connected the best people and solutions with organizations for lasting success across industries and domains. For more, don’t hesitate to reach out.