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.
2020 Leadership Research Agenda
- Lead, Reimagine and Reinvent the Future State Enterprise. In these highly disruptive times, CIOs and technology executives must be fully connected with the CEO and the Board to identify and execute on future-state business goals. In order to deliver on these expectations, CIOs and technology executives need to apply a fresh mindset, act courageously and encourage their teams to go outside their comfort zones to generate new waves of innovation and business value for the enterprise.
- Winning the War on Talent. The talent shortage in IT is becoming more acute than ever, with 89% of CIOs and decision-makers saying it’s difficult for their companies to find skilled IT professionals, according to Robert Half Associates. Cybersecurity skills are at the top of the list, followed by cloud security, cloud computing and cloud architecture skills. Savvy CIOs are testing creative approaches to finding the right talent, including the use of AI tools to identify high-potential candidates outside of their customary field of vision. Others are going outside of traditional channels, seeking out people with strong analytical skills who can be trained in IT disciplines. Forward-looking CIOs and technology executives are increasingly taking steps to strengthen their own personal brands as a means of attracting and retaining top talent through speaking, media, and other opportunities.
- Becoming Boardroom Ready. CIOs, CISOs and technology executives are expected by the CEO and the Board of Directors to contribute to corporate strategy and clearly articulate how technology can be leveraged to deliver business value. As such, technology executives need to continue to strengthen their communications skills in their interactions with the CEO and the Board. These steps can also benefit CIOs and technology executives who aspire to land board-level positions with non-profits, private and publicly held companies.
- Placing Yourself in the Customer’s Shoes. As companies strive to become more customer-centric, CIOs and technology executives are in a prime position to identify and execute on opportunities for improving the customer experience. These insights are drawn not only from gaining a thorough understanding of the business and its customers but also through the support of internal customers – the organization’s employees. Many technology executives and their teams are gaining a deeper understanding of customer behaviors and interests by either experiencing what it’s like to be a customer of the company’s products or services or by working in a customer-facing role for a period of time to better understand and address their pain points.
- The CIO as the Chief Innovation Officer. The mantra in business today is Disrupt or Die. Companies that fail to disrupt their existing business models or create new products or services quickly to address shifting customer interests will find themselves on the outside looking in. CIOs are perfectly positioned to blend their knowledge of the business with how technology can be harnessed to reimagine the business and transform the customer experience. Still, in order to succeed, CIOs and technology executives must foster a culture of innovation across the enterprise to help make innovation sustainable.
- Blazing the Path to Secure Innovation. CISOs are looking to expand beyond their current roles in protecting enterprise assets to help the CEO and the C-suite to achieve its strategic goals. A big part of this involves guiding product and service teams to incorporate security at the front end of the development process instead of bolting security onto the back end of development efforts. A proactive approach can position the enterprise for greater agility and innovation.
- The CIO as the Cultural Change Agent. The hardest part of business transformation is changing the culture. Employees are often resistant to change – they’re comfortable with the status quo. Because of their broad views across the enterprise, CIOs are well-suited to help guide cultural transformation, by setting an example through their actions and words and by continuously communicating their vision for the new culture.
- Strengthening Your Personal Brand. As leaders in the C-suite, CIOs, CTOs and CISOs play a critical role in positioning the enterprise for continued growth and success. As organizational leaders, technology executives need to commandeer their own professional growth by continually nurturing and building their personal brands. Not only does this help to fuel the career ascent of dynamic technology executives, it also enables them to leverage their personal brands to attract and retain talent.
- Blazing the Digital Frontier. Digital technologies offer companies the ability to create new business models and deliver new products, services and experiences beyond what’s been possible in the physical world. Thanks to their deep understanding of how technology can be used to support the business, CIOs and technology executives are well positioned to identify and communicate opportunities for driving the road ahead in the digital environment.
- Creating a Workplace of Diversity and Inclusion to Foster Innovation. Numerous research studies reveal that companies which promote diversity across its executive teams and workforces typically have a stronger innovation pipeline and generate higher-than-average business performance. CIOs and technology executives who promote and foster diversity and inclusion within the enterprise position their organizations to attract talent while fueling innovation by drawing upon a wider variety of perspectives and ideas.
2020 Technology Research Agenda
- Mastering Digital Strategy. Digital market disruption is creating havoc for companies across all industries. At the current churn rate, roughly half of the companies in the S&P 500 will be replaced over the next ten years, according to Innosight. In order for businesses to survive and thrive, courageous CIOs and technology executives are working with their CEOs and Boards to identify how digital technologies such as artificial intelligence, automation, Big Data, analytics, the Internet of Things and cloud computing can be acted on to strengthen the customer experience, craft customer-focused business models and enable the enterprise gain a competitive edge.
- Identifying the Business Case for AI. In 2019, artificial intelligence continued to make further inroads into businesses – from helping to deliver more intuitive customer experiences to streamlining processes (Robotic Process Automation) and providing executives with deeper insights into customer and market shifts. Increasingly, CIOs and technology executives in the HMG community are sharing with us the need to identify specific use cases for AI and machine learning that can deliver true business value.
- Developing a Sustainable Data Science Strategy. As companies strive to become more customer-focused, CIOs and technology leaders will be counted upon to step up their team’s efforts to mine and analyze unique customer data that can be used to develop new products and services and to create distinctive customer experiences.
- RPA 2.0: Embracing the Human-Robot Partnership. As CIOs and business leaders continue to identify applicable use cases for robotic process automation (customer service, finance, accounting), technology leaders will increasingly partner with RPA providers to identify opportunities for handing off manual or time-intensive tasks to software robots to enable employees to focus on more meaningful cognitive activities.
- Blending Privacy into Cybersecurity Strategies. As CISOs and other security leaders continue to battle the cyber threats facing their organizations, they also must address data privacy compliance requirements for the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and a host of other state and industry privacy regulations. It’s not just about regulatory compliance. Organizations that protect the privacy of their customers will also gain their trust and loyalty.
- Leveraging AI for Proactive Security. As cyber threats continue to become more sophisticated and numerous, CISOs and security leaders will increase their use of AI tools to identify and respond to malicious threats faster and more effectively. Forward-looking CISOs will also draw upon AI security tools to augment their existing security teams.
- Thriving in a Hyperconverged World. As CIOs and their teams look to deliver greater business value to the enterprise, they’re shifting away from time and resource-intensive tasks such as operating data centers. This is part of the reason why a growing number of organizations are shifting to a hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) model, as it allows companies to avoid vendor dependency while providing IT teams with greater flexibility under a hybrid cloud environment.
- IoT for the Connected World. Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and data are creating fresh insights for manufacturers and companies in other industries. For instance, plant floor managers can draw upon IoT data and analytics to predict when a machine will require maintenance based on vibrations, sounds and other physical factors. This can help manufacturers to avoid unanticipated and expensive downtime for equipment.
- Harnessing the Promise of 5G. Now that the major wireless carriers have flipped the switch on the fifth generation of mobile wireless communications, consumers and businesses can expect to see faster speeds and lower latency as 5G begins to go coast-to-coast. Qualcomm estimates that 5G could deliver browsing and download speeds that are 10x to 20x faster than current 4G mobile networks. Early movers in retail, automotive, entertainment, healthcare, manufacturing and logistics stand to gain a competitive edge by introducing customer-friendly services such as virtual dressing rooms and augmented reality experiences.
- Living on the Edge. Data being generated by Internet of Things (IoT) sensors along with machine learning, AI and other inputs are leading a growing number of companies to capture data at the edge of the network where it’s being generated. Edge computing is opening new opportunities for leveraging edge data on factory floors, in energy grids and in other environments. As a result, this will enable businesses to develop customer-centric applications as well as operational efficiencies for companies in manufacturing, healthcare, retail, entertainment and services industries.