Top 2023 priorities for APAC CIOs

CIOs must engage in cross-functional leadership

As the global economy moves closer to a potential downturn, technology leaders are poised to clearly link IT’s value to enterprise value. To support CIOs in defining their tech agenda for 2023, global IT research and advisory firm Info-Tech Research Group has published its annual CIO priorities report for the coming year. The CIO Priorities 2023 report combines insights from the recently released Tech Trends 2023 report to help CIOs find opportunities in volatile times.

‘In the Tech Trends 2023 report, we called on CIOs to think of themselves as chess grandmasters and to view strategy as playing both sides of the board, simultaneously attacking the opponent’s king while defending your own’, explains Principal Research Director Brian Jackson, the lead analyst for the report. ‘Our CIO Priorities 2023 report will continue with that metaphor as we reflect on IT’s capability to respond to trends.’

In examining the different capabilities that CIOs will require to be successful in the year ahead, the CIO Priorities 2023 report states that the traditionally siloed view of IT will no longer be sufficient. Like a chess player who uses all their pieces to win the game, the firm advises that the CIO must use all the resources at their disposal while keeping the big picture in mind. Unlike functional leaders who only focus on specific areas and only see their next move, as the head of the organisation with a complete view of all the pieces, the CIO must have full awareness of the board state and make decisions accordingly.

Balancing cybersecurity, data management, digital transformation, and capability growth will be the top priorities for CIOs in the APAC region.

‘CIOs across APAC must balance their priorities between cyber security, data management, digital transformation, and growing capability’, says David Banger, Senior Managing Director, APAC. ‘In the event of a cyber-attack, CIOs must be ready to execute various response plans. In a competitive market, data insights can be a business advantage, while integrated digital experiences enable automated, consistent, scalable processes. Retaining and acquiring top talent will remain a challenge, as organisations seek external services to fill skill gaps and maximise resources.’

The CIO Priorities 2023 report is informed by internal collaboration sessions, external interviews with CIOs and subject matter experts, as well as Info-Tech’s primary research, which draws on data from several different surveys and diagnostic benchmarks. The firm’s Tech Trends 2023 report and upcoming State of Hybrid Work in IT: A Trend Report explain the externalities faced by organisations in the year ahead, highlighting the opportunities and risks that organisations face. Executive leadership must determine if they will respond and how to do so, and CIOs then determine how to support those responses by creating or improving their IT capabilities.

Based on the research and data, the following five priorities are the initiatives that Info-Tech recommends will deliver value across the most in-demand capabilities in 2023. These priorities are what should be top of mind for CIOs and tech leaders over the coming months:

  • Adjust IT Operations to Manage for Inflation. According to the firm’s survey data, two-thirds of IT professionals expect their budgets to increase in 2023, but some of these increases may not keep up with inflation. CIOs must recognise the relative impact of higher inflation on IT’s spending power and adjust accordingly, as an increase of less than 6.5 per cent in 2023 would effectively be a flat budget or a decrease.
  • Prepare Data Pipelines to Train AI. Info-Tech’s survey data shows that just over one-third of IT professionals said their organisation has already invested in AI or machine learning. In 2023, AI will be the second most popular technology for investment, behind cloud computing, and is the fastest-growing technology for new investment. Organisations will have to work to adopt AI-enhanced products and services to stay even with the competition and meet customer expectations. CIOs can help create a competitive advantage by building a data pipeline capable of training custom AI models based on their organisation’s unique data sets.
  • Go All in on Zero-Trust Security. A zero-trust security framework is becoming necessary for organisations for various reasons, such as securing wider network footprints, identifying users external to the firewall, maintaining compliance with governmental or privacy-focused regulations, and ensuring supply chain security. According to the report, IT professionals are moderately confident that they can meet new government legislation regarding cybersecurity requirements, with most ranking their confidence as 3 or 4 out of 5. CIOs must adopt zero-trust architecture from an organisational risk management perspective as the new security paradigm across their IT stack.
  • Engage Employees in the Digital Age. The pandemic’s disruption has caused a long-lasting and likely permanent shift towards hybrid work, with most employees splitting time between the office and working remotely or working remotely full-time. With 90 per cent of organisations embracing some form of hybrid work, IT leaders have an opportunity to shift from coping with the new work reality to finding opportunities to improve productivity. CIOs must lead a strong culture through digital means to succeed in engaging the hybrid workforce.
  • Shape the IT Organisation to Improve Customer Experience. The pandemic motivated organisations to accelerate their digital transformation efforts and focus on the customer experience. Now, organisations are shifting their focus to extracting value from their investments and executing on their digital transformation plans to realise the vision they set out to achieve. In 2023, CIOs will need to tightly align the IT department with the organisation’s value chain from a customer perspective.

The CIO Priorities 2023 report also includes insights in the form of case studies from technology experts at organisations such as Western University of Health Sciences, Maple Leaf Sports, and Entertainment (MLSE), and McDonald’s Germany, to name a few.



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