HMG Strategy’s Research Team is committed to tracking the most critical leadership and technology trends that matter most to its members, including the essential leadership progressions that are aimed at helping technology executives in our network strengthen relationships with the C-suite and board of directors and accelerate their career ascent.
2018 Leadership Research Agenda
- Lead, Reimagine, Reinvent - Fostering a Culture of Genius for Success. In today’s fast-changing business landscape, it’s not your competitors that threaten a company’s survival. It’s your organization’s willingness and capacity to disrupt its existing business model – or be disrupted. Since technology executives are at the center of an enterprise’s digital transformation journey, he/she must partner with the C-suite and board of directors to navigate the business into the future and orchestrate the cultural change that’s required to achieve success.
- Courageous Leadership Gains Ground. As organizational executives endeavor to act on digital transformation opportunities to gain a competitive advantage and optimize business processes, technology executives must break out of their comfort zones and demonstrate courageous leadership with the C-suite and board to drive successful, transformational change.
- Leading the Charge on Digital Transformation. Thanks to their expansive view across organizational functions and business units, technology executives are perfectly positioned to leverage digital technologies to seize upon opportunities to identify new revenue streams, reimagine the customer experience, streamline organizational processes and boost worker productivity.
- Becoming Boardroom-Ready. Technology executives have tremendous insights and expertise to offer to boards of directors that are hungry for technical experience. Tech leaders will continue to focus on improving their C-suite and board-level communication skills while refining the required steps to land a coveted board position.
- Unleashing Bold Creativity to Attract/Recruit/Develop Sought-After Skills. As the war for talent escalates, technology executives will need to summon innovative techniques to entice, preserve, and develop next-generation skills that will be needed to support the organization’s business roadmap.
- Reassessing Cybersecurity Strategies as the Threat Landscape Becomes More Complex. As 2017 demonstrated, the cyber threat landscape continues to evolve and become more complex. CISOs and other technology executives must develop more proactive approaches to cyber threats, including the use of AI and machine learning tools, as historical ‘analyze-and-respond’ tactics are no longer sufficient.
- Fostering Innovation is Core, Parallel & New Markets. CEOs fully expect technology executives to identify and present opportunities for accelerating and even disrupting the business. These include ways to improve upon existing products and services, push into adjacent business markets and create new business models and services for new markets.
- Speed Wins in an Accelerated Business Environment. Business is moving at warp speed. Is your organization nimble enough to keep pace – or are you constantly chasing other companies? Successful technology executives help the business to become more agile by responding rapidly to customer and market shifts and by simplifying the customer and user experience.
- The Customer Obsessed Technology Leader. In recent years, CEOs and business leaders have recognized the benefits of becoming customer-focused – including improving customer satisfaction, increasing customer retention and boosting share-of-wallet. Expect to see technology executives work more closely with CMOs and other customer-facing leaders to better understand and respond to customer needs and pain points.
- Collaboration Begins with Relationship Building. Savvy technology leaders recognize that the IT organization can’t do it alone – strong partnerships are needed with the C-suite, line-of-business and functional leaders (sales, marketing), technology partners, venture capitalists and other participants in the IT/business supply chain to brainstorm, execute, and achieve success.
2018 Technology Research Agenda
- Shrewd CIOs Pump Investments into Digital Initiatives to Gain Competitive Edge. Many executives recognize the potential for business model innovation and competitive differentiation through digital strategies. Indeed, nearly three-quarters of executives (73%) cite revenue growth as a top benefit of their digital initiatives, according to PwC’s 2017 Global Digital IQ Survey. Still, critical challenges continue to exist that must be addressed for organizations to succeed, including overcoming skill shortages, lack of integration between new and existing technologies and data, and inflexible/outmoded processes.
- Enterprises Leverage AI and Machine Learning to Solve Real Business Problems. While some companies have conducted skunkworks artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning (ML) testing, most organizations are just kicking the tires at this point, according to McKinsey & Company. However, as larger enterprises become more familiar with cognitive computing and ‘real’ business problems these technologies can tackle, more than half of enterprises are expected to have specific AI strategies in place, according to MIT Sloan Management Review and The Boston Consulting Group.
- Companies Pinpoint Specific Operational, Application Opportunities via The Cloud (SaaS, PaaS, IaaS, etc.). As IT and business leaders have deepened their understanding of and the benefits that can be gained from using different types of cloud models for different purposes (e.g. public, private, hybrid/multicloud environments), decision-makers will determine where best to shift their workloads, according to a 451 Research study. This also applies to choosing particular cloud applications that offer multiple benefits, including a single version of software for all users, enhanced collaboration capabilities, and seamless feature and functionality updates.
- Staying Ahead of Advanced Cyber Threats. As the cyber threat landscape continues to become more sophisticated and complex, information security teams are struggling to keep pace in the face of severe resource shortages. Each year in the U.S., 40,000 information security analyst roles go unfilled while employers are struggling to fill 200,000 other cyber security roles, according to CyberSeek. On a global scale, ISACA predicts there will be a shortage of 2 million cyber professionals by 2019. To help tackle these challenges, enterprise security leaders must take more innovative and broader approaches to recruiting potential talent while investing more heavily in AI and machine learning tools to detect and respond to threats more quickly and effectively.
- Digital Transformation Goes into Overdrive. Digital transformation isn’t centered solely on gaining a competitive edge. As enterprises become more digitally mature, technology executives will need to work closely with fellow members of the C-suite to identify and act on targeted opportunities for reimagining and reinventing the business while pinpointing opportunities for streamlining operational activities. According to a 2017 study conducted by MIT Sloan Management Review with Deloitte Digital, digitally maturing companies are far more likely than less mature organizations (76% vs. 32%) to use digital technologies to conduct business in fundamentally different ways.
- Making Data and Analytics Vastly More Productive. There’s an abundance of research that points to the business benefits for leveraging data and analytics tools. For instance, a study of 2,600 BI users conducted by the Business Application Research Center (BARC) report ‘moderate’ to ‘good’ benefits for increased revenues (41%), reduced costs (46%) and increased competitive advantage (52%). Still, many business leaders continue to lament that they’re not getting enough bang for their data and analytics investments. Expect to see technology executives to ramp up investments in data management tools to take data and analytics returns to a higher level.
- Blockchain Breaks Out of Pilot Mode. While numerous industry-focused blockchain projects were tested in 2017, expect to see a growing number of blockchain initiatives begin to go into production starting in 2018. These include projects that extend beyond blockchain’s roots in finance. For instance, by 2020, 20% of healthcare organizations are expected to move beyond pilot projects and use the distributed ledger systems for operations management and patient identity, according to IDC Health Insights. Other industries where blockchain usage will gain traction includes insurance, real estate, legal, HR, recruitment, music, automotive, and energy.
- Transitioning off Legacy Infrastructure to Meet Modern-day Business Needs. Many companies struggle to reduce their percentage of ‘run-the-business’ technology spending to free up capital for discretionary and innovative technology investments that can help grow top line revenues. As determined CIOs strive to shift these spending dynamics from an 80/20 split to 70/30 or even 60/40, expect determined technology executives to transition more this year to modern infrastructure technologies that enable their organizations to reduce costs while meeting current and future business requirements.
- Customer Experience is King. As business leaders recognize the business value of becoming customer-obsessed (e.g. improving customer satisfaction, strengthening customer retention and maximizing revenues and profits), technology executives are expected to orchestrate how people, processes, and technology can be blended to create distinctive customer experiences. Indeed, 36% of technology leaders are positioned as partners with the CEO and CMO in formulating customer-centric strategies, according to Forrester Consulting. As such, we can expect to see CIOs and other technology leaders evaluating, testing, and implementing customer-focused technologies that can help differentiate their companies from rival firms.
- Tapping into the Internet of Things, Edge Computing for Fresh Sources of Innovation. While connected consumer devices such as smart TVs and wearable health trackers capture a great deal of media attention, the market for the Internet of Things (IoT) in the enterprise and industrial sectors is primed to be twice as large – up to $300 billion by 2020, according to Bain & Company. When IoT is combined with edge computing – the ability to process data generated by IoT devices closer to where it’s created in order to analyze critical data in near real-time – this enables enterprises to streamline data flows and optimize processing and analysis. As technology executives continue to probe new ways too reimagine and reinvent the business, expect to see more pilot projects and production rollouts involving IoT and edge computing.