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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. Visionary Leadership: Driving a Modern AI Strategy with a Secure Digital Agenda. Inflationary pressures and other macro-economic and geo-political challenges are creating headwinds for technology executives and fellow members of the C-suite to execute on and achieve strategic goals in 2024. The fast-changing socio-economic landscape is forcing technology executives to be able to peer around the corners and to anticipate what’s coming for the CEO and the Board. In an uncertain economic environment, CIOs and business technology leaders will need to draw upon authentic and inclusive leadership skills to inspire their teams to help execute organizational objectives. Meanwhile, CIOs, CISOs and other business tech leaders will need to remain laser focused on new ransomware, phishing and crypto mining attacks amidst budgetary pressures. Critical focus areas will include fearless innovation and invention via curated AI utilization to spur revenue growth.

2. Navigating a Barrage of Geo-Economic, Political and Cyber Risks. We’re living in an unprecedented global environment that has tested the limits of our leadership skills. CIOs, CDOs, CISOs, business technology leaders and fellow members of the C-suite are contending with an avalanche of risks which include inflation. Rising interest rates. Supply chains. Two regional wars. Global chip production. Critical infrastructure. Shifting customer behaviors. Social unrest. Cybersecurity. These challenges are forcing business technology leaders to summon fresh ways of thinking and new leadership capabilities to enable the business to succeed while keeping it protected.

3. Conveying Cyber Threats as a Board-Level Discussion. The role of CISOs and CIOs in effectively communicating the evolving threat landscape to the CEO and the Board remains a top priority. More recent developments that further cloud the threat landscape include the need to balance the opportunities presented by AI-fueled initiatives with the need to safeguard the enterprise as well as communicating the impact that the new Securities & Exchange Commission cyber regulations has on Board members. Layer on top of this the pressures that widespread cybersecurity budget cuts and staff reductions are having on existing teams. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

4. Executing on the CEO’s Viewpoint. A key component to the success of any CIO, CISO or business technology leader is understanding and executing the CEO’s priorities. This includes fully grasping the CEO’s goals for business growth, cost containment, business transformation and other initiatives and then identifying and deploying the right mix of technologies, processes and skill sets to meet those objectives. For most CIOs and business tech leaders, this also includes conducting a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats) to assess what your company does best, where it needs help along with the threats and opportunities that lie ahead.

5. The Rise and Acceleration of Shadow IT/Generative AI. Shadow IT is a growing challenge for CIOs and business technology leaders, representing a staggering 30%-to-40% of total IT spending in large organizations and up to 50% in some companies, according to industry research. Meanwhile, rogue AI projects being deployed by business units are further exacerbating this issue for business tech executives. Expect to see a growing number of CIOs, CTOs and CISOs become more aggressive with Shadow IT initiatives given the security concerns and wasteful spending being created on SaaS and other software licenses.

6. Designing the Intelligent Automated Enterprise. AI is a game-changing technology that can create new business services, fresh Go-to-Market models and a competitive edge with customers. But it can do much more – including optimizing processes and streamlining operations to help reduce costs and deliver elegant customer experiences. Still, CIOs, CISOs and business technology leaders must adequately address the challenges and risks that need to be carefully managed and mitigated with intelligent automation initiatives, including safeguarding customer data and protecting against cyber threats.

7. Strengthening Line-of-Business Strategic Engagement. Savvy CIOs and business tech leaders recognize the importance of fostering strong relationships with line-of-business leaders. Not only does this help tech executives to better understand the needs and strategic goals for the business, but it also helps to cement solid partnerships with LOB leaders who can serve as allies in strategic planning discussions.

8. Winning the Global War for Talent. The global war for talent continues to remain demanding despite layoffs across industries. A Fall 2023 survey conducted by Deloitte finds that nearly 90% of hiring managers characterize recruiting and retaining talent as a ‘moderate’ or ‘major’ challenge. Shrewd business technology leaders will strengthen their professional brands along with their companies and their teams to help recruit and retain top talent. Meanwhile, successful CIOs and business tech leaders recognize the importance of clearly communicating each team member’s purpose and the value they bring in meeting the organization’s objectives along with listening to the insights and recommendations team members have to share to help foster a more collaborative and engaged workforce.

9. Strengthening Your Personal & Professional Brand. The global war for talent is a top priority for CIOs, CISOs and business technology leaders – and the situation is only getting tougher. Seventy-seven percent of employers report challenges in filling roles, a 17-year high according to Manpower Group. Forward-thinking technology leaders who leverage the strength of their personal brands and demonstrate authentic, compassionate and inclusive leadership competencies position themselves to win in their efforts to recruit, retain and grow the talent needed to help their organizations meet their strategic goals.

10. Positioning Yourself for Your Next Big Move. Some CIOs, CDOs and senior technology executives aspire to other roles in the C-suite such as Chief Operating Officer, Chief Strategy Officer – even Chief Executive Officer. Some set their sights on board-level positions or private equity roles while others are interested in joining not-for-profits and undertakings aimed at benefiting the public good. Whichever course each technology leader decides to take, it’s imperative to extensively research the role in question, understand the strengths being brought to the table as well as the gaps that need to be addressed. It’s also critical to forge new connections with other executives – including those outside your primary network – to obtain different perspectives for charting a successful course.

1.  Innovating Your Security Posture Against an Evolving Threat Landscape. As ransomware, phishing, supply-chain and other types of cyber-attacks continue to grow in complexity and volume, traditional cyber strategies and techniques to safeguard the enterprise need to be re-examined and refreshed. Add to these challenges the continuing cyber skills shortage that CISOs and their organizations are facing. As such, we expect to see increased investment in cutting-edge cyber technologies that can help address these and other cyber requirements, including autonomous cybersecurity, data security, and cloud security.

2. Leveraging the Business and Operational Benefits of Generative AI. AI isn’t a new concept. The technology has been around since the 1950s. But it has evolved to what is now referred to as Generative AI, which has suddenly and dramatically created new opportunities to generate new business services, fresh Go-to-Market strategies, deliver real-time intelligence regarding customer behavior and preferences along with streamlining organizational workflows. GenAI and intelligent automation technologies that capture what executives and organizations need most will be best positioned as market movers.

3. Gaining a Competitive Edge via Predictive Analytics. A top focus area for CIOs, CISOs and business technology executives is understanding the company’s strategic goals and then applying technology and resources to help achieve those objectives. This is a key reason why the use of predictive analytics is crucial for businesses. Analytics can help business leaders to massage data to identify emerging customer and market trends and bypass competitors with new products, services and strategies to strengthen the bottom line and gain a competitive advantage.

4. Accelerating Value Realization from Multicloud Investments. According to our Spring 2023 Technology Spending Index survey results, 63% of CIOs and business technology executives in the 500,000+ strong HMG community have boosted their cloud spending plans for 2023. But as businesses continue to face economic headwinds, CIOs and other business technology leaders will continue to look more closely at how best to optimize their public, private and hybrid cloud investments to get the most bang from their buck.

5. Tackling Supply Chain Threats. Software supply chain attacks continued to increase exponentially throughout 2023. Previous examples of nefarious supply chain attacks include the SolarWinds, Log4j, Kaseya and OpenSSL incidents. As CISOs and security teams have become more cognizant of these attacks and their potential to disrupt operations, security leaders will increasingly escalate their partners’ due diligence processes and implement software that alert them to suspicious activity in their networks.

6. Tapping the Productivity Benefits of Automated Machine Learning. Automated Machine Learning, or AutoML, is the process of automating the time-consuming and iterative tasks associated with developing machine learning models. AutoML enables developers and users to apply machine learning models to real-world problems such as fraud detection or to predict customer churn and equipment failures. Benefits of using AutoML include accelerating and simplifying the ML learning process, reducing training time and expanding the scalability of ML models. Think of it as a faster and easier way to ramp up the use of ML without having to scour for hard-to-find ML skills.

7. The Shift to SASE: Addressing Edge-to-Edge Risks in a Cloud-Connected World. As companies increasingly utilize cloud infrastructures and edge computing capabilities to process data at the edge of the network, a growing number of companies are adopting a Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) network architecture to provide edge-to-edge protection across their enterprise infrastructures. In 2024, it’s estimated that 30% of enterprises will have adopted SASE capabilities from a single vendor and the number could reach 60% by 2025. As companies continue on their digital journeys, a growing number of organizations will rely on SASE architectures to help protect sensitive data while continuously assessing risk through enhanced visibility.

8. Safeguarding Data and AI Initiatives. As business users plow headlong into AI-driven projects, governance and visibility into the security of these projects along with the data being used is a chief concern for CISOs and their teams. A recent survey reveals that nearly 8 out of 10 software developers are bypassing enterprise security policies in their use of AI tools. As CISOs, CTOs and other business technology leaders place greater emphasis on the governance of AI initiatives, expect to see an increase in the use of AI security tools to better safeguard the organization.

9. Orchestrating Applications, Infrastructure, Networking and Cybersecurity. As companiesare now enmeshed in hybrid work models, CIOs, CTOs and business technology leaders are looking for effective ways to optimize the performance of the platforms supporting these models. This includes the importance of unifying networking, security and computing in today’s cost-conscious environment. Expect to see technology executives further choreograph the integration between their application, infrastructure, networking and cybersecurity environments to create stronger synergies between, reduce complexity and minimize costs.

10. Fueling Business Growth and Cost-Containment with World-Class Business Partners. A key component behind the value that CIOs and business technology leaders bring to the executive table is their ability to identify advanced technologies that can help move the needle for the business or help to generate productivity gains. This includes the use of artificial intelligence, ChatGPT, machine learning, automation, multicloud, the Internet of Things, data management and analytics, edge computing and other technologies to help enable the business to fire on all cylinders.

For additional information, contact HMG Strategy’s Senior Research Director Tom Hoffman at

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