Economic uncertainty compels IT leaders to rethink their strategy

IT decision makers’ priorities have shifted over the past 12 months and their top areas of focus as they head into 2023. Snow Software polled 800 IT leaders from the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and Australia, and highlights that innovation remains a top priority for organizations (94%). However, reducing costs and managing security risks are competing for leaders’ attention and resources amid continuous market volatility.

Due to economic uncertainty and geopolitical disruptions upending the technology landscape, IT teams have shrinking or stagnant budgets and resources, yet the same goals and KPIs to meet. With increased pressure to foster innovation, boost productivity and remain competitive with fewer resources, IT leaders are struggling to identify where to put their time, energy and spend, resulting in continual strategy pivots.

Responding to uncertainty in the market

The report shows that economic uncertainty over the past year has forced nearly 80% of IT leaders to rethink their strategy, with 70% noting immense budget impacts.

When navigating resource reductions and market disruption, IT leaders rely on data and their previous experience to guide decision-making. This is particularly true when taking risks and pursuing innovation initiatives, as data is needed to reinforce and rationalize prioritization when resources are limited.

While IT leaders feel there is an abundance of data available to them, 89% say IT must invest in tools and technologies to extract value from their data and turn it into actionable intelligence.

Shifting role of the CIO

Given technology deployments and data insights are often used to provide context through ongoing market volatility, many IT leaders are feeling the weight of their organization’s investments on their shoulders.

The role of the CIO has evolved over the last three years, earning them decision making power not just around technology spend, but across the full scope and impact of the company’s bottom line.

With this level of decision making power comes even greater accountability, and the same IT leaders who championed the shift to remote work are also at risk of becoming the scapegoats when businesses are not equipped for unprecedented events.

CIOs and other IT leaders are living in an age of adaptation: new technologies, new market dynamics, new value drivers, and they are expected to successfully guide their organizations through a new reality of continual, crisis-fueled change.

“The reality is that IT isn’t going to get a break from the uncertainties impacting businesses anytime soon,” said Alastair Pooley, CIO at Snow.

“The IT leaders that push through the challenges with confidence all have one thing in common: the ability to access data and leverage it strategically. CIOs should not overlook the power of intelligence on their technology, given it empowers IT teams with data-driven insights to shift their focus from tactical response to strategic initiatives. This shift helps drive continued innovation through extended periods of uncertainty,” Pooley continued.

Competing priorities are stalling IT teams’ ability to forward innovation

While innovation remains a priority for IT leaders, it is stalled as businesses wrestle with reducing cost (33%), managing security risks (28%) and advancing digital transformation (26%) – which leaves IT teams conflicted on where to focus their day-to-day efforts versus long-term strategic views.

The role of the CIO is continuing to evolve

Over the past 18 months, 78% of respondents reported that the role has evolved immensely over this time. Further, 90% of CIOs say they are trusted advisors to the business, as opposed to a one-stop shop for technology.

As expected, the evolution of their role has come with increased responsibilities, such as having more accountability for the financial impact of their IT investments (89%), as well as an expectation to innovate faster and demonstrate ROI (85%). CIOs are tasked with juggling many timely problems and priorities, all while ensuring they are meeting their individual goals and expectations.

IT leaders are both thriving and drowning in data

The report reveals that 89% of IT leaders have access to actionable data to apply to decision making. However, 60% say they are overwhelmed by data, and 89% say IT must invest in tools and technologies to extract value from their data and turn it into actionable intelligence.

A data-led approach is the most reliable way to navigate uncertainty, as it provides leaders with an evidence-based roadmap, as well as arming them with the confidence to make data-driven decisions, even in a rapidly changing environment.

CIOs and IT leaders with threadbare teams and budgets will be challenged to do it all and need to rely on easily accessible data to drive optimal business decisions. In 2023, approaches like Technology Intelligence – or the ability to understand and manage all technology – will be the catalyst to continued success.

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