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.
2019 Leadership Research Agenda
- Reimagining and Reinventing the Future State of the Enterprise - The IT organization as a back-office function has become an anachronistic view. In today's highly-disruptive business climate, the CEO and the Board of Directors fully expect the CIO and technology executives to come armed with ideas for new business models and to create new revenue streams. In order to deliver on these expectations, CIOs and technology executives must think differently, act courageously and encourage their teams to go outside their comfort zones to generate new waves of innovation within the enterprise.
- Becoming Boardroom Ready - As executive teams continue to press forward with digital/business transformation strategies, CIOs and technology executives need to continue to strengthen their communications skills and leadership capabilities in their interactions with the Board of Directors. In addition to fortifying their standing in the C-suite, this will also help position technology executives for landing board-level positions with other organizations.
- Applying Design Thinking to Customer-Centric Innovation - For the uninitiated, design thinking is a systematic approach to solving problems across a variety of use cases. By shifting from a features-first approach to a user-centric approach, design thinking helps IT and cross-functional teams to address and solve the problems that customers and other end-users face. The ROI for design-centered companies has been compelling. An in-depth analysis of 2 million pieces of financial data and 100,000 design actions over the past five years by McKinsey reveals that design-led companies generated 32% more revenue and 56% higher returns to shareholders than other companies.
- Envisioning the Digital Future - Thanks to their unique views across the enterprise into how people, processes and technology intersect, CIOs, CDOs and other technology executives are perfectly positioned to identify how digital technologies can be harnessed to generate new revenue streams, boost organizational productivity and dramatically improve the customer experience.
- Refreshing Your Professional Brand - As active participants in the C-suite with a large team of reports, CIOs, CISOs and technology executives each have a professional brand that they've cultivated and shaped over the years. With the technology executive positioned squarely in the center of the enterprise, 2019 represents a prime opportunity for technology leaders to elevate their professional brands and take their career trajectories to another level.
- The CIO as a Talent Magnet - Professional branding offers another tangible benefit to technology executives - it enables them to attract and retain coveted technology/business professionals. As the war for talent escalates, technology executives will need to draw upon innovative recruitment and retention techniques to attract, safeguard, and develop next-generation skills that will be needed to support the current and future business.
- Expanding the CISO Role to Drive Innovation and Agility - Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) have been historically charged with protecting the enterprise against cyber-attacks and other risks. But as CISOs are settling into the C-suite, they're increasingly being called upon to help identify new ways to drive innovation and increase agility while defending the enterprise. This includes opportunities to simplify the customer experience while improving security.
- Fostering a Culture of Innovation via Diversity - Research reveals that companies that promote diversity amongst its leadership and teams tend to have a stronger innovation pipeline and higher-than-average business performance. Technology executives who promote and foster diversity and inclusion within the enterprise position their organizations to attract talent while strengthening innovation by stimulating a wider spectrum of ideas and perspectives.
- Creating the Nimble Enterprise - In the face of constant market disruption, companies need to be able to respond quickly and pivot to shifting customer behaviors and market conditions. Forward-thinking technology executives help the business to become more agile by implementing technologies and processes that can help the business to respond and adapt quickly to sudden macro-economic changes.
- The Customer-Centric Technology Leader - As companies continue to refine their customer strategies, CIOs, CISOs and other technology executives will play an essential role in enhancing the customer experience. Savvy technology leaders spend time with customers to better understand their interests, needs and pain points and work closely with business and functional teams in helping to address customer expectations.
2019 Technology Research Agenda
- Dynamic CIOs Envision the Digital Roadmap for Future Business Success - Since 2000, more than half of the companies that were in the Fortune 500 have been knocked out of the index as a result of acquisitions, bankruptcy or termination, according to Constellation Research. In order for businesses to remain relevant, they must be willing to disrupt themselves ahead of the market and focus on the needs and preferences of their customers. Forward-looking CIOs and technology executives play a critical role in identifying how digital technologies such as artificial intelligence, Big Data, analytics, the Internet of Things, blockchain and cloud computing can be leveraged to enhance the customer experience, craft customer-focused business models and help the enterprise gain a competitive edge.
- Putting AI to Work - In 2019, artificial intelligence will continue to make further inroads into businesses - from delivering more intuitive customer experiences to streamlining process automation (Robotic Process Automation), conducting security surveillance and providing executives with deeper insights into customer and market shifts. As AI, machine learning and RPA permeate the enterprise, CIOs and technology executives will need to become more attuned and involved in the ethical use of data and AI in delivering trustworthy and principled results for customers.
- The Customer-Centric Enterprise Takes Flight - As business leaders increasingly recognize the value of analyzing customer data to better understand and engage with customers, CIOs and technology executives will continue to boost their value to the enterprise by identifying how other advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, chatbots, the Internet of Things and augmented reality can be used to improve the customer experience. Not surprisingly, top-performing CIOs spend more time with customers, focus on innovation and do the work to enable core enterprise capabilities for both internal and external use, according to research between Harvey Nash/KPMG and MIT's Center for Information Systems Research (MIT CISR).
- Cybersecurity Becomes Proactive - As nation-states and cyber criminals continue to become increasingly more sophisticated in their attacks, it's no longer a question as to whether your organization will be attacked - but when. Information security leaders must shift their mindsets from a reactive approach to cyber-threats to a more proactive stance to better anticipate and get out in front of bad actors. Such strategies will progressively rely upon the use of AI and other intelligent, automated threat detection technologies in helping cyber teams to become more aggressive in their cybersecurity strategies.
- Cultivating the Data-Driven Enterprise - There's no shortage of research on the business and operational benefits for becoming a data-driven organization. Or concerns about falling behind. For instance, many of the 300 CEOs surveyed in a 2018 McKinsey Analytics study worry that companies from other industries have clearer insight into their customers than they do. Part of the challenge faced by CIOs and technology leaders is convincing the CEO and CFO to invest in a data management strategy that can strengthen decision-making and generate more powerful business outcomes. As a critical leader of the data-driven enterprise, CIOs and technology executives will also play a crucial role in steering data ethics in order to gain and maintain customer and partner trust.
- Embracing the Flexibility of the Cloud - As a greater percentage of enterprises become cloud-mature and further refine their approaches to public, private and hybrid cloud environments, expect to see a growing number of companies shift to Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) capabilities. By shifting away from resource-intensive and restrictive on-premise server and storage environments, companies can obtain multiple benefits, including lower costs, fewer dedicated resources, accelerating the speed of IT service delivery, greater scalability and higher reliability. Moreover, by reducing the fixed costs associated with managing and operating on-premise infrastructure, technology executives can free up investments for innovation and grow-the-business projects.
- Validating Blockchain Use Cases - The majority of CIOs and technology executives in the HMG community who have been interviewed on their blockchain interests say they are exploring business use cases, proof-of-concepts and other early-stage investigations. Key challenges for deploying blockchain cited by technology leaders include scalability, security, integration with legacy systems, energy resources consumed and business use cases that can alternatively be addressed through the use of databases.
- Operating at the 'Edge' - The emerging Internet of Things data eruption, coupled with the deployment of 5G networks, is resulting in data being transitioned from on-premise data centers to cloud environments to 'edge nodes'. These trends are driving the increased adoption of edge computing environments by enterprise organizations. As more enterprises shift a growing portion of their workloads to the edge, edge devices will utilize AI chips and advanced storage and processing capabilities to enhance the performance of apps and services. According to a 2018 Tech Pro Research Survey, 52% of respondents currently use edge computing technologies and 51% plan to adopt these technologies by late 2019.
- A Quantum Leap in Business Transformation - Quantum computing, which can run vast numbers of calculations infinitely faster and at greater capacity than existing supercomputers, is closer than you might think. While some research suggests that a viable quantum computer is still a decade away, companies such as IBM, Intel, Google and Microsoft are racing to develop machines that could be commercially available by 2024. CIOs should keep an eye on this space to identify opportunities for the business such as providing a more comprehensive approach to protecting digital identities and sensitive data and to identify patterns in customer and market data faster to help companies to gain a competitive edge.
- Augmented Reality Gets Real - Augmented reality has generated a lot of hype over the past few years but it's finally beginning to make inroads among businesses in industries such as manufacturing, healthcare, and pharmaceuticals. While virtual reality creates a virtual environment around a user, augmented reality integrates virtual objects into a user's existing surroundings to create a more interactive and genuine environment. By 2020, the global AR market is projected to reach $100 billion in sales, according to ABI Research. Current and potential use cases include providing construction professionals with visual step-by-step instructions for using tools and equipment properly. Pharmaceutical researchers and patients can now use AR tools to visualize physiological processes such as demonstrating a medication's chemical reaction in the bloodstream. In retail, Ikea has already developed an AR app that enables a user to picture what a piece of furniture will look like in their home.