CIOs should embrace these 5 terms in 2023

Here are five terms – and concepts – that should be a part of CIOs’ everyday vernacular in the coming year
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The role of the chief information officer is more critical than ever as technology continues to impact nearly all business processes. In recent years, CIOs have expanded their focus beyond implementing SaaS programs to developing longer-term operational strategies to have a multifaceted impact on today’s organizations.

While digital transformation and cloud computing are likely already a part of every CIO’s nomenclature, here are five key terms IT leaders should know to ensure that technology drives KPIs in all departments, from customer service to human resources and risk management to logistics and procurement.

1. ESG

Environmental, social, and governance initiatives are no longer considered pie-in-the-sky. ESG is a growing focus of investors and customers, and companies that aren’t operating in a socially responsible way are more likely to become unprofitable. CIOs need to anticipate and proactively mitigate ESG issues across the global marketplace.

[ Also read 6 non-negotiable skills for CIOs in 2023. ]

ESG concerns may involve how goods and services are sourced, supply chain issues, the countries and environments in which companies conduct business, and fair labor practices. CIOs have an increasing number of resources to understand and address ESG issues. Technology can help organizations meet supplier and vendor diversity goals and sustainability initiatives.

2. Operational transformation

Nearly every company is undergoing an operational transformation as the way we work has changed dramatically in the past few years. Operational transformation is the framework that allows digital transformation initiatives to stick. It must become baked into an enterprise’s culture and enable non-technical, in-person, and remote teams to participate.

Operational transformation must become baked into an enterprise’s culture and enable non-technical, in-person, and remote teams to participate.

Enterprises must rapidly evolve from outdated manual processes to create efficient workflows, reduce approval processes, facilitate employee onboarding, personalize customer support, and fully digitize operations. Streamlining these operations – whether for managing tasks or customer relationships – allows companies to collaborate more effectively to achieve revenue goals.

3. Customer experience

The customer experience (CX) has evolved for modern enterprises. Large enterprises are vested in creating satisfactory and valuable customer experiences at every stage of their buying journey. With the growing influx of data to the cloud, CIOs and their teams can use data to support customer experience teams.

Outstanding customer experiences may involve artificial intelligence, machine learning, and automation or simply integrating CX into the core business strategy. CIOs can play a pivotal role in using technology to democratize data across departments and drive customer experiences directly from the cloud.

4. SaaS management

The adoption of SaaS solutions is increasing exponentially as more businesses move to cloud-based environments. As SaaS applications become more pervasive, CIOs must institute ways to manage and optimize their use across the enterprise.

Enterprises need to increase the efficiency and ROI of their existing IT stack and software investments. To prevent wasted spending and software bloat, CIOs should have a comprehensive view of who is and isn’t using applications, which includes offboarding departing employees and ensuring that all licenses are being used. Without formal oversight, IT teams won’t be able to proactively manage auto-renewals, recognize overlapping programs, and reconcile an application’s financial data.

5. Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity and governance continue to be major challenges for enterprises as cybercrime threats increase. With more remote workers and enterprises using hundreds of cloud-based SaaS solutions, the risk of hacks, data breaches, and ransomware attacks is greater than ever.

CIOs and CISOs must understand the implications of cybersecurity threats as they pertain to growing tech stacks in the digital transformation era. It is not a matter of if but when an enterprise will be attacked by ransomware. Even multi-factor authentication processes can be compromised.

Cybersecurity requires full vigilance from the C-suite, and it’s essential to adopt state-of-the-art encryption software and have full visibility and control of SaaS applications. To gain the public’s trust, enterprises must diligently protect company, customer, and employee data.

[ New research from Harvard Business Review Analytic Services identifies four focus areas for CIOs as they seek more flexibility, resilience, and momentum for digital transformation. Download the report now. ]

Suresh Sambandam is the Founder & CEO of Kissflow. He is a first-generation, self-made entrepreneur who is passionate about technology and mentoring other aspiring entrepreneurs. He has three US patents to his credit and is featured in 4 books.