According to Cassio Dreyfuss, Brazil research country manager at analyst Gartner, Brazilian CIOs have done some work around what he defines as a "digital path" - disruptive, technology-based business models, products or services - though progress has been timid overall.
"Banks and retailers have made progress but others are still trying to catch up," the analyst says, adding that this search for the digital holy grail will continue to be a theme in 2016. "CIOs are worried about how to embrace digital models while ensuring security and minimizing risk."
Dreyfuss adds that some Brazilian CIOs are considering to leave digital to one side until 2017 but Gartner has been advising the opposite: "We can't adopt the mindset that 2016 will be just the year of survival. CIOs should continue working in their digital models and remember there are ways of staying competitive in that space without investing significant budgets."
Another concern for Brazilian CIOs in 2016 is around how to redefine their strategies given the specific challenges they are facing. "That is not a job that is exclusive to IT, it is something that should be defined by It and the business," Gartner's Dreyfuss points out.
"The main question for CIOs is how to meet the demands posed by increasing competitiveness as the first company to go to market with a product or service has a very limited advantage."
According to Dreyfuss, another challenge facing Brazilian CIOs in 2016 will be to continue doing the old "more for less". "And that is still very much the case as it is very hard to pay for products and services delivered from outside Brazil with the dollar at R$4."
The analyst points out that local decision makers will have to be careful with indiscriminate cost cutting. "We are telling CIOs to prepare to respond to the pressure from the financial department to cuts costs no matter what. That is because blunt cuts are exactly that: blunt."
Brazilian CIOs have caught up with international IT trends regarding data analytics and the importance of that has already been clearly understood, according to Gartner's Dreyfuss. However, it will be hard to keep the analytics ship afloat during times of financial hardship.
"We have been telling CIOs to try and keep [analytics] initiatives going in some way, shape of form - if they are not able to do that, they will have problems to pick up on it again within a year or so," the analyst says.
"Data analytics projects are usually long-term initiatives that are also complex and expensive - and it is hard to carry on with them during a recession."
Even though a recession brings many challenges for buyers and sellers alike, Dreyfuss says that suppliers working with Brazilian CIOs could find an opportunity in the current cost-consciousness climate.
"All bets are on and the result of this game is uncertain, but the truth is that the supplier community is suffering too, especially due to the volatility of the dollar in relation to the Brazilian currency," says Dreyfuss.
"However, larger vendors can create packages that consolidate services and offer a discount, while smaller suppliers could be offering more basic services at lower prices," the analysts says. "That will not be the ideal scenario, but something that could work in the next year or two."
Despite the fact that hardware sales represent the lion's share of the Brazilian IT industry, vendors are inevitably going to feel the impact of the recession.
"[Hardware] suppliers will be sharing that pain with CIOs, who in turn will be delaying any purchases they possibly can," Dreyfuss says. "In addition, the reduction of business volumes will lessen the pressure on IT infrastructure and emphasize that upgrades are not necessarily urgent," the analyst adds.