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Top CIO Challenges in 2023

Omar Ali Amin

on 13 February 2023

Almost a decade ago, public clouds offered CIOs the possibility to explore OpEx based infrastructure to optimise their costs. A few years later, many came to the conclusion that the public cloud is not a one-size-fits-all solution to every infrastructure and operations challenge, and cloud repatriation projects gained popularity. CIOs began moving back some of their workloads to private and hybrid/multi-cloud environments to get the best of both worlds.

Along the way, Kubernetes comes to be one of the greatest advancements in IT since the public cloud. Containerisation is expected to replace virtualisation in the near future. CIOs, still figuring out the optimum cloud strategy, started exploring where, when and how to fit containerisation in their clouds. Covid lockdown strikes, and quickly disrupts cloud strategies. A new norm is coming with a lot of uncertainty, and we need to cope and enable employee mobility, secure remote working and data integrity. Many plans were set aside, and others developed and accelerated to cope with the rapid changes.

As we slowly settle down, a worldwide economic downturn is resulting in layoffs and a lot of uncertainty. This requires every successful leader in an IT organisation to build a strong strategy for the future. What should CIOs be focusing on in 2023?

Narrow down investments to combat rising costs

As costs rise, budget constraints and a shift in priorities are not uncommon for many companies. This, in turn, affects how CIOs prioritise projects, hiring and training. Efficiency is key in these times, without compromising innovation. An effective IT strategy should identify how to best leverage existing resources and technologies before thinking about growth and expansion. This requires reviewing internal processes and operations and identifying potential areas of improvement that can save time and effort. This will eventually narrow down your list of new investments for the year to the essentials and strategic initiatives, and help you counter rising costs wisely.

Pick your battles wisely!

There’s no mistake: surviving a recession is challenging. Yet,  it also brings along a lot of opportunities. ChatGPT by OpenAI is a great success story and a great example of disruptive innovation during a recession. No business wants to stay put for a year, even during a recession! So how can CIOs implement cost-cutting measures while increasing innovation?

It’s important to stay focused on a few high impact priorities that will affect the success of the business. On top of that, it’s essential to maintain high agility and adaptability to be able to pivot and change direction quickly when needed. Achieving such dynamics requires making the right decisions about what to develop internally and what to outsource. 

While many organisations are hunting for talent and improving employee retention, it’s smart to pick your battles wisely and decide on which initiatives will keep your team motivated while benefiting the business. Directing your IT specialists towards commodities and non-strategic tasks that require a lot of effort can easily lead to burnout. Additionally, this does not allow you full control over your investments due to lack of human resources and cost overruns.

For example, spending half of your budgets on operating your IT infrastructure costs you a lot of money and resources. However, it does not add a competitive advantage to your business. On the other hand, allocating resources towards automation and AI can help you cut down costs and become more efficient. This brings us to another very important aspect for the year, diversifying your in-house skills.

Diversify your in-house skills

We can simply categorise all activities in an IT organisation under two main segments: reactive and proactive work. Reactive work doesn’t take you far, it maintains the current state and counters any incidents that affect the optimum operations. These could range from handling minor user issues all the way to recovering from a facility outage. You want to do less of them, but some are extremely urgent and require the whole team’s attention.

Proactive work is what you really want to invest the majority of your time and resources on. The most important and impactful initiatives fall under this category, but they are never urgent. Reactive work comes in your way and puts you off track, but proactive work is what puts your organisation ahead.

That is where the diversity of in-house skills comes in to be very handy. Diversifying your team’s skills enables them to come up with new initiatives and own them. Allowing for a reasonable portion of the team’s capacity to be allocated for training, development and new initiatives will help you better retain your valuable team members while upskilling them. This typically leads to an innovative team that is more likely to build future-proof tech for the organisation. To leverage the best of your team’s skills, you need to free them up from reactive work and enable them to focus on strategy.

Conclusion 

Growing your business during an economic downturn is challenging and requires focus, solid planning and strong execution. The more reactive and non-strategic tasks you offload from your team, the more space you create for innovation and optimisation. 

Managed IT service providers can help you cut down operational costs and run a more predictable IT organisation. Canonical’s managed services help you use free and open source software securely, allowing you to trim down software, licensing and operational costs while ensuring your highly capable team is focused on strategy and transformation. 

Learn more about offloading operations

Download the guide “Managed IT Services: Overcoming CIOs biggest challenges
Read the cost analysis whitepaper “Private cloud vs managed cloud: cost analysis
Watch the webinar “Managing openstack like a public cloud

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