Today’s CIOs have evolved from managing IT infrastructure and ensuring systems’ efficiency to become key business strategists. They stand at the intersection of technology and business, leveraging innovations to shape organizational directions, create value, and boost revenue for the company.

As they move their organisations toward the goal of becoming a digital business, they are grappling with pressing challenges such as optimising IT investments, fortifying cybersecurity, and driving innovation through generative AI (GenAI).

In its worldwide CIO agenda predictions for 2024 and beyond, International Data Corporation (IDC) expects companies to further expand their digital business capabilities as they seek to gain competitive advantage and CIOs will play a crucial role in the success of these efforts.

“Companies, in their efforts to remain competitive and relevant, are turning to their CIOs as visionary leaders. These CIOs emerge as multifaceted leaders, capable of merging technology with business strategies. In this dynamic era, the role of the CIO is not just adapting — it’s being revolutionised,” says Daniel Saroff, group vice-president: consulting and research at IDC.

IDC’s FutureScape 2024 research focuses on the external drivers that will alter the global business ecosystem over the next 12 to 24 months and how these affect the issues technology and IT teams will face as they define, build, and govern the technologies required to thrive in a digital-first world.

A closer look at IDC’s top ten predictions for CIOs and digital business leaders reveals the following:

* Leading Organisational Change in Response to Technology Change: CIOs will play a pivotal role in orchestrating organizational changes aimed at fully embracing the potential of AI, automation, and data analytics. These changes can encompass new roles and responsibilities, a shift toward an agile and innovative culture, the implementation of robust data governance frameworks, and enhanced cybersecurity measures.

* Adopting Digital Technologies Brings Challenges and Risks: Older IT systems may lack the capabilities needed to effectively support modern AI and analytics workloads, which limits the benefits these technologies can deliver. Outdated infrastructure and inadequate IT support can also elevate a company’s risks. CIOs need to make strategic decisions about upgrading or modernising their IT infrastructure to align with the organization’s digital goals.

* Designing Systems and Processes with Security as a Foundational Element: By 2027, three out of four CIOs will be incorporating security protocols directly into systems, software, and processes. This approach foresees potential vulnerabilities, weaknesses, and threats; addresses them early; and attempts to neutralise them before the risk can be exploited.

* Fostering a Data Platform: A key to success is implementing a consistent data platform. Organisations with a data-centric culture prioritize strategic data management, equip employees with the tools and skills to analyze and act on the data, and base key decisions backed by data where insights lead the way. Organisations with a strong data-centric culture will have a distinct edge in the digital business era.

* Aligning IT Investments with Revenue Goals: Achieving revenue goals is intricately tied to the alignment of technological investments with overarching business objectives. The most resilient leaders will guide their teams to navigate the complexities of digital transformation to ensure that IT investments directly contribute to business outcomes.

* A Cohesive AI Strategy Will Require a Robust Governance Framework: GenAI will become integral to various business functions, and CIOs must manage expectations with the lines of business (LOBs). A robust governance framework provides guidelines on GenAI’s ethical and responsible use and offers a systematic approach for its scaling and integration across the company.

* Build a Foundation of GenAI Talent, Experience, and Training Data: Investing in GenAI now will create a short-term competitive advantage, but it won’t last. For long-term success with GenAI, CIOs need to build a foundation of talent, experience, and training data tailored to their business needs. On this foundation, CIOs must continuously innovate and identify new applications of GenAI to remain ahead.

* CIOs Become Central to Regulatory Compliance and ESG: CIOs are uniquely positioned at the intersection of technological innovation and ESG implementation. Their expertise allows them to facilitate real-time ESG data collection, foster transparent reporting, and drive data-driven decision making that aligns with sustainability and governance targets.

* Aligning IT with Marketing: Integrating technological systems with marketing initiatives can ensure a seamless flow of customer information and enable a comprehensive understanding of these customers. This holistic perspective paves the way for tailored experiences and more effective engagement strategies, fostering not only customer satisfaction but also trust and loyalty.

* Building Custom Apps In-House for Competitive Differentiation: In-house developers can be paired with LOB developers using tools such as GenAI and low-code/no-code platforms to create solutions that align with business objectives and user needs. This collective approach can position organisations for success in a constantly evolving competitive environment.

IDC’s worldwide predictions for CIOs and digital business leaders are presented in full detail in the report, IDC FutureScape: Worldwide CIO Agenda 2024 Predictions.