Predictions 2020: Uncertainty equals opportunity for the CIO

In 2020, CIOs at leading firms will help their firms turn uncertainty into opportunity by transforming customer and employee experiences.

Understanding the changing role of the CIO in healthcare James Freed, CIO at Health Education England, talks about the change in demands for healthcare IT leaders.

The only thing for certain about 2020 is that nothing is for certain. And while that euphemism has been and will remain the CIO's North Star, in 2020, their reaction must be different. Traditionally, IT leaders reacted to uncertain times by hunkering down and going into efficiency and cost-cutting mode. We think that is a recipe for failure in the current environment.

Instead, the leading firms we study lean into constant change and uncertainty. At these advanced firms, CIOs are stepping up to help their firms transform customer and employee experiences, leverage digital without becoming a slave to technology, and harness the explosive power of ecosystems for innovation, disruption, and growth.

To help CIOs navigate these challenging waters, here are a few of our 2020 predictions:

  • People will rise to the top of CIO agendas. Today, your IT team can acquire and deploy technologies in hours that used to take months. However, that won't solve your toughest problem: people. In 2020, talent, culture, and organizational issues will take center stage. Leadership teams will look to their CIOs for technology solutions that solve these workforce composition challenges.
  • Data strategy scope will stop creeping and start exploding. As firms continue transformation programs, data will remain a top priority. However, data strategy success requires much more than the right technology. In the past, this has led to data program scope creep that creates bloated budgets, unmet expectations, and program stagnation or death. In 2020, we think the bubble will burst, finally, as leaders recognize that success takes effort from the entire company -- and that means serious talent transformation across the board. Leading firms will make the investments, while the rest will waffle.
  • Automation will begin to transform your team. According to our research, the topics CIOs are most interested in include automation, robotic process automation, and AI technologies -- and for good reason. When implemented in the right culture, with the right people and processes, these technologies can help firms unleash the power of their people by transferring monotonous tasks to robots. In 2020, CIOs will turn from planning to action with automation, starting with their own workforce. Robots will begin to take over Level 1 support and mundane infrastructure processes.

To learn more predictions from Forrester's CIO team, download Forrester's Predictions 2020 guide to understand the major dynamics that will impact CIOs next year.

This post was written by VP, Principal Analyst Brian Hopkins, and originally appeared here.