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CIOs are in high demand as businesses experience ongoing technological change, disruption, and uncertainty. With flexible work arrangements, geopolitical uncertainty, rising costs, and constant cybersecurity incidents and data breaches, IT, guided by CIO priorities, is at the centre of many of the critical business decisions being made.
While the challenges are relentless and unforgiving, they also present senior business executives, including the CIO, an opportunity to foster more innovation and harness resilience for greater organisational success.
You only need to look at business spending trends to see the weight the IT division carries and the transformation it will likely undergo soon. According to Gartner, worldwide IT spending will surge to a staggering $5 trillion in 2024, up 6.8% from 2023.
This substantial investment underscores how integral IT is in organisations navigating today’s increasingly complex business landscape. Businesses are not merely adopting new technologies; they are innovating and building resilience into their operations while needing to protect their businesses simultaneously from the increased security threats that come with digitalisation.
Top 2024 priorities for today’s strategic CIO
There is a sense of urgency surrounding critical decisions related to IT or technology that must be made to future-proof businesses, and according to a report from last year, 50% of CIOs stated that their board now expects them to deliver continuous innovation. Priorities like integrating emerging technologies, reinforcing data governance and compliance, and strengthening cybersecurity measures should all be top of mind when it comes to shaping the CIO agenda of 2024.
When looking at cybersecurity alone, leaders are challenged by cyber threats increasing in sophistication. The global average cost of a data breach in 2023 was nearly AUD$7 million, a 15% increase over 3 years, underlining the need for robust security measures.
In the reporting period from January to June 2023, there were 409 notified data breaches in Australia, with malicious or criminal attacks being the leading cause (70%), and the health and finance sectors continuing to be the top reporters of data breaches, accounting for over a quarter of all notifications. Simultaneously, data governance and compliance have become more critical than ever due to stricter global regulatory standards. Here, we take a deeper dive into three key priorities in the year ahead: emerging technologies, compliance and data governance, and cybersecurity.
1. Integrating emerging technologies
The adoption of emerging technologies such as Generative AI (GenAI), quantum computing, and IoT is on the rise, with Deloitte highlighting their transformative potential for organisations wanting to gain a competitive edge in 2024. GenAI is gaining traction, redefining the creative process by generating new data from existing datasets and opening up countless possibilities for innovation.
This advanced form of AI can create anything from written content, and even design products. However, whilst GenAI has the potential to deliver businesses with significant benefits, it also represents challenges and risks businesses need to be aware of and address, such as internal policies for staff use, internal data access controls and security to name a few. CIOs can expect that integrating emerging technologies such as GenAI will be disruptive but worth the interruptions based on the payoff. CIOs can leverage innovative tools and technology to add a staggering amount of value when wielded correctly.
A McKinsey report uncovered that GenAI could add an equal of US$2.6 trillion to US$4.4 trillion of value annually. The future of the workplace, as reimagined by CIOs, can transform business productivity while safeguarding businesses. According to Gartner, compliance leaders predict that emerging technology will be a key area of focus and the highest spending uptick in 2024 in terms of compliance and ethics training, and risk management systems.
2. Compliance and data governance
Compliance and data governance efforts continue to be high on the agenda for leaders going into 2024. The digital landscape is increasingly complex, and with this complexity comes risks that must be managed effectively. Data governance plays a crucial role in ensuring data integrity, quality, and privacy while compliance efforts ensure adherence to regulations like CPS230 for the financial services sector.
The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) has finalised the new prudential standard on operational risk – CPS230, which emphasises the need for robust operational risk management, including information and cyber security, in financial institutions. To better manage the area of compliance and data governance, CIOs can expect an intensified push to implement cutting-edge AI and machine learning in data management. Because of the changing landscape, an emphasis will be placed on data privacy and compliance with new regulations.
It will also be essential for CIOs to navigate real-time data governance keeping in mind ethical factors, and the incorporation of cloud-based solutions. As mentioned, there are obstacles to effective data governance management and the integration of GenAI, but with the right data architecture, GenAI can enhance data governance processes by automating data governance tasks, such as metadata administration, data quality evaluation, and even decision-making. Once the architecture is sound, data integrity will allow for enhanced utilisation of data for strategic purposes.
3. Cybersecurity – CISOs need a seat at the table
Undoubtedly there is an urgent need for heightened cybersecurity efforts, and robust preventative measures are more critical than ever, with the cost of cybercrime worldwide forecasted to reach a staggering USD$10.5 trillion annually by 2025.
To tackle this, organisations must prioritise giving Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) a seat at the executive leadership table. In this pivotal role, CISOs can guide strategies and drive initiatives to combat these advanced threats, ensuring organisational resilience against potential cyber-attacks.
With incoming regulations requiring businesses to be more transparent about breaches and attacks, the inclusion of CISOs in decision-making processes is not just recommended, but essential for navigating the complex cybersecurity landscape of 2024. Additionally, Gartner has forecasted that global spending on risk and security management will reach USD$215 billion in 2024, a significant jump of 14.3% from 2023.
In terms of investing intelligently, CISOs can play a crucial role in planning and executing the allocation of investments to ensure the proper cybersecurity safeguards are chosen and integrated. The initial involvement of a CISO can ensure that the right fit cybersecurity safeguards are selected and incorporated into the business framework from the get-go.
In summary, it is essential CIOs concentrate on innovation through emerging technologies, while preserving data integrity, and strengthen cybersecurity methods to guide businesses towards resilience and sustainable growth. In all of this, the CIO continues to play a critical role in any organisation and will need to be more actively involved with critical decision making in 2024 and beyond.