Research Agendas


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.

 

1.    Leading Boldly and Courageously – Winning and Inspiring Trust in the Global Digital Economy. The shift to a work-from-home environment has emboldened employees to determine how, when and where they work. They also want to be part of the discussion in solving critical business and customer challenges and in making their imprint on the company’s strategic direction. These are some of the cultural shifts that are contributing to ‘The Great Re-Evaluation’ where employees are not simply resigning their positions – they want to play a more active role in deciding which company they work for and in contributing to that organization’s social causes and business success.

As companies successfully made the digital pivot in March 2020, this has created new opportunities for CIOs, CISOs and business technology executives to play a deeper role in designing the future of the business and in the shape of the organization. Technology executives who inspire employees and foster an environment of trust can stimulate a collaborative culture that sparks innovation and drives business outcomes with the aid of impactful technologies that can enable the organization to win in the marketplace while attracting, growing, and retaining the people and skills that are needed to power the successful 21st century enterprise.

 

2.    Winning the Global War for Talent in the Age of ‘The Great Re-Evaluation’. Multiple research studies reveal that the global shortage for technology talent will continue to become more severe going into 2022. Further exacerbating these challenges is how more than 40 percent of tech workers have or are planning to leave their current employers as remote work no longer limits who they work for or where, according to the 2021 Microsoft Work Trend Index. Meanwhile, one-third of technology positions posted by employers in October 2021 were for emerging tech skills such as AI and automation, according to a CompTIA review of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Savvy technology executives who demonstrate authentic and compassionate leadership can leverage their personal brands to act as a magnet to retain and attract the top-tier talent that’s needed to reimagine the business and help the executive team meet its strategic goals.

 

3.    Building a Resilient Global Supply Chain. Supply-chain disruptions have become abundant over the past 12+ months, impacting companies across a wide range of industries. Meanwhile, the SolarWinds and Colonial Pipeline attacks are forcing CISOs, CIOs and other executives to place a fresh lens on how to better safeguard their organizations from supply-chain attacks and other disruptions. CIOs, CISOs and other global technology executives will continue to work with their senior leadership teams to provide greater resiliency to their companies' supply chains to protect their businesses today and into the future.

 

4.    Placing a Fresh Lens on Cybersecurity Strategies to Successfully Address the Evolving Threat Landscape. Cybersecurity continues to rank as a top priority for CIOs, CISOs and business technology executives, according to a survey of more than 150 technology leaders conducted by HMG Strategy. It’s hardly surprising, given the massive escalation of ransomware, nation-state, supply chain and other types of cyber-attacks that have been unleashed throughout 2021. As the threat landscape continues to change, CIOs, CISOs and business technology executives need to apply a fresh mindset to their cybersecurity strategies to successfully safeguard the enterprise. This includes identifying the types of cyber skills that are needed to defend the organization on a go-forward basis.

 

5.    Enabling the Business to Move with Speed and Agility. Another top priority cited by roughly half of CIOs and business technology executives in the HMG community is the ability to enable the business to move with speed and agility. On a broad scale, CIOs and business technology leaders are leaning on technologies such as low code/no-code platforms, cloud platforms, AI and data analytics tools to enable line-of-business leaders to identify and act quickly on shifting customer behavior and other market shifts.

 

6.    Breaking Glass: Driving Progress with Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Programs. One of the most dramatic changes that occurred with corporate culture over the past year is that the transition to video meetings leveled the playing field, creating greater equity between virtual participants. These and other changes, including widespread calls against racial and social injustice, has spurred a heightened focus by Boards of Directors and executive teams to accelerate diversity, equity and inclusion programs across the enterprise. These shifts have prompted a growing number of technology executives to play a more decisive role in shaping DEI programs, including ensuring that diversity cascades across all levels of the enterprise and not just at the Board or executive level.

 

7.    The Technology Leader as Cultural Change Agent. One of the greatest challenges cited by CIOs, CTOs, CISOs, CDOs and technology executives in the HMG community is finding effective ways to keep employees engaged and motivated in a hybrid work environment for the foreseeable future. This also dovetails with how members of the C-suite are looking to foster a culture of high-performance leadership across the enterprise. Astute business tech executives will be looking for fresh ways to imbue a connected and inclusive culture – both for long-term employees as well as new hires.

 

8.    Preparing Yourself to Be Boardroom-Ready. Most Board members at publicly held companies lack technology expertise. Since most companies are digitally operated, this is one of the chief reasons why boards are increasingly recruiting technology executives who understand the intersection between technology and the business. Meanwhile, within the companies they work for, CIOs, CDOs, CISOs, CTOs and other technology executives need to be able to clearly articulate to the CEO and the Board how technology can be leveraged to deliver business value. These skills can also benefit technology leaders who aspire to land board-level positions with non-profits, private and other types of companies.

 

9.    The Customer-Centric CIO. Thanks to their unique view across the enterprise – along with the role that digital experiences are playing in the customer journey – CIOs and business technology executives are playing a deeper role in reinventing the customer experience. As companies strive to become more customer centric, CIOs, CDOs, CTOs and other technology executives are in a prime spot to help business leaders to identify and execute on opportunities for improving the customer experience. These insights are drawn both by 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 customer pain points.

 

10.  Technology and ESG: The CIO’s Role in Driving Sustainability. Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) is a hot topic among Boards of Directors, regulators and investors. ESG, also referred to as sustainability, is prompting deeper discussions at the executive level in terms of steps that can be taken by organizations to reduce their carbon footprints and to help make both their business and environmental models more sustainable. As COVID-19 has accelerated digital transformation efforts, CIOs and business technology executives are poised to play a significant role in either adding to or reducing their organization’s carbon footprint. CIOs and business technology executives in the HMG community can and should partner with the executive team to orchestrate their organization’s ESG efforts and help devise strategies to enable their companies to reduce their carbon footprints.

 

 


1.    Leveraging Cutting Edge Technologies to Move the Needle for the Business. Part of the value that CIOs and business technology leaders bring to the executive table is their ability to identify use cases for advanced technologies that can help move the needle for the business and enable their companies to gain a competitive edge. This includes the use of artificial intelligence, machine learning, hyper-automation, the Internet of Things, a plethora of data sets and analytics, edge computing and other technologies.

2.    Designing the Future of Work in a Highly Distributed Environment. The pandemic forced businesses to rapidly shift to work-at-home strategies, placing enormous pressure on technology leaders to ramp up access to VPNs, videoconferencing systems and distributed technologies to support a highly distributed workforce. Even as most regional infection rates continue to drop, many CIOs and technology executives expect to see large percentages of the workforce continue working remotely. This will require the ability for teams to seamlessly connect with each other using collaboration platforms and tools to foster brainstorming and innovation. These are some of the primary factors that are prompting technology executives to work with fellow members of the executive team to conceptualize what the future of work looks like for their organizations and to ensure that employees have access to the tools they need to remain engaged and productive on the path forward.

3.    Optimizing a Multi-Cloud Environment to Power Today’s Digital Business. As enterprise companies continue to expand their use of the cloud, they typically rely on multiple cloud providers to meet their specific needs and to achieve greater redundancy and business continuity. For companies that adopt a multi-cloud strategy, most executives cite best-of-breed opportunities and cost optimization as their primary objectives, according to a study by IDG. As we look to 2022, business technology leaders will increasingly focus on leveraging a multi-cloud environment and fine-tuning enterprise architectures to get the most bang for their investment dollars while enabling the digital enterprise to fire on all cylinders.

4.    The CIO as the CEO of Digital Transformation and Invention. When the world changed in March 2020, CIOs and their teams enabled companies to make the digital pivot. Now, CIOs and business technology executives are being counted on to enable the enterprise to expand its digital product and services portfolio and leverage digital technologies to reinvent the business and gain a competitive edge. 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, fearless CIOs and technology executives must partner with their CEOs and line-of-business leaders to identify how digital technologies such as artificial intelligence, automation, Big Data, analytics, the Internet of Things and cloud computing can be leveraged to craft customer-focused business models, identify and execute on new business opportunities and enable the enterprise to win in the market.

5.    The Network Perimeter is Gone. Leveraging SASE to Safeguard the Enterprise. As companies have made the digital pivot and operate on a global, virtual scale, one of the most enduring changes is this – the notion of a network perimeter no longer exists. This is one of the reasons why a growing percentage of companies are adopting a Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) network architecture to provide edge-to-edge protection across enterprise infrastructure. As companies further their digital maturity, a growing number of organizations will rely on SASE network architectures to help identify sensitive data and malware while continuously assessing risk.

6.    5G Comes of Age. As of June 2021, commercial 5G services had already been deployed across more than 1,500 cities in 60+ countries worldwide, according to Viavi Solutions. Meanwhile, Qualcomm estimates that 5G could deliver browsing and download speeds that are 10x to 20x faster than current 4G mobile networks. 5G offers tremendous opportunities for businesses across different industries—especially as the use of IoT and IIoT devices continue to expand and depend upon 5G to transmit large volumes of data in real time. 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 which create competitive differentiation. Meanwhile, corporations stand to reap additional business and operational benefits by leveraging customer and operational data at the edge.

7.    Identifying Compelling Use Cases for AI. Artificial intelligence continued to make further inroads into businesses throughout 2021 – from helping to deliver more intuitive customer experiences to streamlining organizational processes (hyperautomation) and providing executives with deeper insights into changing customer behaviors and market shifts. As we look to 2022 and beyond, CIOs and technology executives in the HMG community are telling us how they the need to identify specific use cases for AI and machine learning that can deliver quantifiable business and operational value to the enterprise.

8.    Making a Quantum Leap. Quantum computing is no longer a futuristic technology – it’s here now. For instance, Amazon Braket is a fully managed quantum computing service being offered to help accelerate scientific research and software development for quantum computing. Quantum represents a huge leap forward in computation to solve complex problems such as cybersecurity, drug development, financial modeling, supply chain logistics and other use cases.

9.    Tapping IoT and Edge Computing for the Business. Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and data are creating new insights for executives in manufacturing, retail, construction, entertainment and other industries. For instance, plant floor managers can analyze IoT data to predict when a machine will require maintenance based on vibrations, sounds and other physical factors. Meanwhile, the “trivergence” of AI, blockchain and IoT, as coined by Don Tapscott, will usher in a next-generation Internet where a distributed ledger records and secures IoT data while AI is used to analyze it. This trivergence will herald a new wave of business and operational insights and capabilities, ranging from the ability to avoid unanticipated and expensive downtime for plant floor equipment to quickly analyzing and responding to changes in customer behavior.

10. Modernizing Legacy Technologies for a Digital World. It’s not sexy, but legacy technologies continue to be used by many companies for a variety of reasons – users are accustomed to them, they’re too difficult to rip out and replace, etc. As companies continue to mature their digital transformation, legacy systems either need to be modernized and/or correlated to digital transformation investments to the CEO, CFO and other stakeholders.


For additional information, contact HMG Strategy’s Senior Research Director Tom Hoffman at tomhoffman@hmgstrategy.com.

 

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