Cio strategies

10 CIO Strategies to Adopt in 2021

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In this post, we’ll look at CIO strategies and tactics to focus on in 2021 and the years ahead.

As most business professionals know, 2020 was a pivotal year for businesses around the world. 


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The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated digital transformation on a global scale, and CIOs were often called upon to lead those efforts. Research from Gartner, for instance, has shown that the pandemic bolstered the relationship between CIOs and the rest of the organization.

To adapt to these types of changes, CIOs will need to rethink their roles, expand their responsibilities, and implement new strategic initiatives.

Below, we’ll cover some of the most essential strategies that CIOs should adopt in 2021.

CIO Strategies to Adopt in 2021

Here are ten strategies and tactics that CIOs should implement as they adjust to the post-COVID next normal:

1. Adopt and innovate with emerging technology

Over the next several years, emerging technology such as AI, edge computing, and blockchain will all have a massive impact on the business landscape. Some have predicted, for instance, that AI will change the world more than the internet did.

The digital revolution, in other words, is far from over – and since digital innovation will shape tomorrow’s markets just as it shapes today’s, CIOs should invest now.

2. Implement hybrid business processes 

Agile business methods have been covered extensively, and many businesses recognize the value of building agile workforces, agile organizations, and agile strategies.

However, other business approaches – such as waterfall and phased approaches – still have their place.

Hybrid business models combine the best of all approaches, allowing companies to stay responsive, flexible, and innovative.

3. Design and implement a digital adoption strategy

Digital transformation has become a central theme in the modern business world.

In recent years, however, many businesses have begun to realize that digital transformation and digital adoption go hand-in-hand.

Unless companies can effectively integrate technology into their workplace, after all, they cannot make full use of that technology.

One of the best ways to maximize the ROI of digital investments, therefore, is to focus on effective technology adoption and use tools such as digital adoption platforms (DAPs).

4. Digitize the workplace

The workplace of the future is digital.

The more effectively companies can adopt new digital tools, workflows, and processes, the easier it will be to stay innovative, agile, and, ultimately, profitable.

On the other hand, a failure to digitize the workplace will limit opportunities for growth and make it more difficult to stay competitive.

5. Upskill the workforce

New digital tools and processes are essential for the digital-first business.

Yet employee skills are just as important. After all, if employees lack the proper digital skills, they won’t be able to leverage those tools.

Employee training should therefore become a top priority in the years ahead.

6. Broaden the CIO mandate and skill set

In years past, CIOs were typically responsible for IT service management and delivery. While many CIOs are still responsible for operations, many more have become responsible for strategic initiatives.

The expansion of the CIO’s mandate carries many implications for the future of the CIO – among which is the need to expand one’s skill set.

To stay relevant and effective, CIOs will need to acquire new skills, such as people skills and business skills.

7. Cultivate a culture of learning

Organizational culture plays a large part in an organization’s performance and – especially important in today’s enterprise – an organization’s ability to change.

A culture that is averse to change and new ideas, for instance, will make organizational change and digital business transformation more difficult.

On the other hand, a culture of learning will speed up learning and, in most cases, facilitate business change efforts.

CIOs and other business leaders are often in a position to cultivate such a culture through organizational change efforts, communication programs, employee training programs, and similar efforts.

8. Integrate IT with other business functions

While digital technology has fueled innovation and growth at every level of the business world, that disruptive effect also causes fragmentation in the workplace.

For instance, when different departments adopt different technologies at different rates – and those technologies are poorly integrated – organizations operate far less efficiently than they could.

On the one hand, this problem is caused by technology.

At the same time, however, technology can also solve this very problem. This is why, as mentioned, many enterprises are offering more responsibility to their CIOs, who are in a position to integrate these siloed business functions through IT.

9. Build a hybrid office

In 2020, remote work became the norm around the world.

In 2021 and beyond, telecommuting will remain. While most predict that tomorrow’s office will not be fully remote, many research firms also expect more remote working overall.

The pandemic and the resultant remote work paradigm have given rise to a new term – the “hybrid office.”

The hybrid office combines traditional onsite work with other flexible work options, such as the gig economy, flex-time, and remote work.

Technology, naturally, will play an important role in enabling such a work environment, and CIOs should work with other business leaders to drive these efforts forward.

10. Use the right software in the CIO office

Integration is key when it comes to efficiency and effectiveness in the C-suite.

To perform many of the tasks covered above – such as bridging the gap between different business units with IT – the right tools are essential.

Digital adoption platforms (DAPs), for instance, are useful for building an effective digital adoption and software training program. And enterprise software management (ESM) tools can bridge ITSM with other business communication functions, such as HR portals.

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