Today, businesses know that IT is essential to their mission: with 78% of small business leaders stating that IT is a top investment for them in 2022, Gartner predicts a worldwide IT spend of $4.4 trillion this year. Overall, this is good news for CIOs and other technology professionals – but it also represents a challenge that will require innovation to overcome.
Increasingly, business leaders are expecting results from their investment. In order to meet those expectations, IT leaders need better clarity about the outcomes they should be providing while honing the capabilities needed to deliver them. In time, the ability to plan and execute an outcome-based strategy will distinguish the best IT professionals from the worst.
Five outcomes IT can deliver
Technology has become integral to the way we work and do business, driving capabilities like remote collaboration and customer support. But from a business leader’s perspective, the top-down view is more important, including these five, high-level outcomes:
- More Predictable Costs
While business leaders don’t mind paying more for IT, unpredictable costs are a source of concern that limit growth and squeeze out other initiatives. Legacy IT infrastructure is a leading source of unexpected or bloated expenditure, costing organizations a significant percentage of their annual budget.Ultimately, IT leaders can cut down on surprise costs and keep expenditure consistent from month to month through strategic modernization, regular maintenance, and budgeting that accounts for key business needs.
- Improved Scalability
The need for scalability is a key factor in the growth of cloud, which will comprise a majority of Enterprise IT spending by 2025. Scalability allows organizations to save time, support more users, and remain resilient in the face of fluctuating business needs.IT professionals can lead the way in cloud adoption and other scalable business practices, which sometimes mean higher short-term costs for long-term gains. This requires not only IT expertise, but also the ability to communicate with decision-makers and explain the benefits.
- Reduced Risk
Today, businesses face risk from many sources, including rampant cyberattacks, violations of data privacy laws, human error – which accounts for 95% of cyber issues – and technical debt.IT leaders can help to mitigate all these risks by ensuring cybersecurity and compliance from IT vendors, training employees for safer practices, and ensuring their business does not fall behind competitors in terms of modernization.
- Increased Productivity
Without the right technology, productivity has a hard limit: clutter, poor reliability and bad user experience are obstacles to getting anything done.Simply modernizing away from legacy systems provides a productivity boost – but strategic IT advancement can go further through automation, better tools, and continual improvement based on user feedback. For instance, a Forrester study found that collaboration tools correlated with a 10% increase in productivity across multiple organizations.
- Better Ways to Work
The ultimate goal of IT is not merely to serve as a vehicle for the way people currently work, but to provide new ways of working that are resilient in the face of changing business trends, such as increased remote employment and talent shortages.IT professionals not only provide businesses with better tools for project management, collaboration, and remote conferencing – they also help organizations to leverage their existing tools more effectively, while optimizing for mission-specific needs.
Capabilities for CIOs
Thanks to their unique combination of IT and business expertise, CIOs are already uniquely suited to deliver improved business outcomes – but planning strategies around those outcomes requires them to hone specific skills, such as:
- Collaboration – ask questions, build relationships, and work across multiple departments to better understand the business considerations that shape IT strategy.
- Leadership – always be thinking ten years ahead, seeking the intersection between your organization’s mission and technological trends.
- Ongoing assessment – continually audit business performance based on KPIs, and measure to confirm that your strategy is delivering results.
Ultimately, the future of IT strategy lies in better outcomes – but proving those outcomes requires more than a combination of IT and business expertise: it also requires the ability to communicate with stakeholders, track metrics, and understand technology trends.
The Growing Role of vCIO
For small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs), virtual CIOs (vCIOs) are becoming an attractive alternative to full-time IT staff, not only delivering enterprise-level IT experience at a fraction of the cost, but also relying on delivery of business outcomes to retain their position from year to year.
As a heavyweight outsourced role, vCIOs face unique challenges, knowing they will be judged by their results – as time goes by, the same will be true for CIOs and other tech leaders. The IT professionals of tomorrow will be differentiated by multi-domain expertise, and their ability to achieve measurable benchmarks for business improvement.