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2022 has been another profound and unprecedented year in business. Business leaders continue to steer their organisations through uncertain times, being presented many hurdles to overcome along the way – from remote working, impacts on the supply chain, a shortage of skilled IT resources and a significant increase in cybersecurity incidents and data breaches – the challenges are far from over.
Amid this rocky landscape, businesses have widely accepted that flexible working arrangements are here to stay. Many leaders have come to realise that flexible working isn’t just a good thing for employees, but can also deliver many benefits for the organisation overall. Reports have shown that hybrid working arrangements have led to more jobs being created and improved employee engagement, increasing productivity by more than 20%.i
But with so much change and disruption that doesn’t seem to ease, how can leaders best prepare for the year ahead, knowing that returning to the office in the way we did previously isn’t going to happen and that we are living in a time where cybersecurity risks are that much higher?
Priorities for the modern CIO: what is on the agenda for 2023?
Over the past two years, much of the five priorities we anticipated in 2021 – security and compliance, modernising systems and infrastructure, real-time data visibility, workforce engagement, and the digital and cloud approach – have continued to play out as expected and dominate the CIO agenda. We don’t see this changing much in 2023.
Security and compliance remain a critical focus for organisations largely due to escalating cybersecurity threatsii, both globally and in Australia. Data breaches across numerous major organisations have heightened concern among organisations and boards as they look to safeguard the data and reputation of their clients and organisation. Moreover, the move to hybrid working has only increased cybersecurity risksiii – with attacks costing businesses AU$1 million on averageiv – requiring organisation to dedicate more time and resources to mitigate any security vulnerabilities.
Further, more efficient use of data, cloud computing and automation has been a focal point for many organisations as they worked to streamline operational processes, improve customer experience and decrease the reliance on manual labour to cope with the labour market shortage.
Shoring up defences and plugging gaps
Organisations navigating the fast-moving IT world in 2023 can expect more of the same key challenges, and must be more prepared when addressing these. Here is how:
1. Invest resources to beef up security
Organisations must now invest more time, money and effort to ensure that their IT infrastructure and security architecture are well maintained and properly secured. This is especially important on the back of major hacking and ransomware incidents that happened in 2022.
Robust, reliable and secure IT infrastructure functions as a solid foundation that supports the future growth and development of the organisation, so ensuring it is strong and protected can only benefit the organisation at large.
2. Ensure compliance with (probable) tightened regulations
In addition, it is likely that the government will impose higher security and compliance standards on any organisation that holds customer data.
There are already reportsv that the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) is looking to more tightly enforce its Information Security Prudential Standard CPS 234vi and increase supervision of entities who have not complied with it. Focusing on this area will therefore be critical if organisations want to ensure the protection of their customer’s data – and hence their own organisation’s interests and reputation.
3. Offset the talent shortage by improving operational performance
But security and compliance aren’t the only obstacles to overcome. Increasingly, we have seen how the shortage of skilled labour has affected organisations nationally and globally. This shortage of talent means organisations must turn their attention to activities which will make a difference to their operational performance.
Apart from looking at narrowing the labour gap, organisations need to drive efficiency, and improve productivity. To that end, organisations should keep moving towards automation and use of cloud services, enhancing efficiency and flexibility, and progressing further in their digital transformation journey. This transformation will also be aided by IT consolidation – businesses must aim to streamline and optimise existing processes, platforms and systems by removing the inefficiencies of redundant applications fulfilling the same functions.
Develop better competencies and improve security to thrive in the coming year
There is no doubt that technology is playing an increasingly critical and pivotal role in our lives and businesses. Organisations are turning to technology to improve their customers’ experiences, drive greater efficiencies within their organisation, and look for ways to develop a competitive advantage.
The cost of labour to support menial tasks is no longer acceptable; organisation must look to automate or remove these, and move employees into more productive and higher-value tasks.
With this in mind, organisations need to now surround themselves with the right support to meet their business challenges head on in the new year – especially in the areas of security and compliance, the migration to and leveraging of cloud technology, better utilisation of data to drive business decisions, and productivity improvement through automation of business processes – or else risk falling behind.