CIOs were forced to move their enterprises to the cloud quickly and sometimes “without ideal protection measures” during the roughest months of the pandemic, says Brian Winters, CIO at ECI Software Solutions based in Fort Worth, Texas. Now, their “catch-up” efforts will drive IT investments in the year ahead.
Winters spoke with StrategicCIO360 about what that catch-up will look like and who will be doing the work, particularly given the challenges of attracting and retaining quality talent today.
What technology initiatives will be most significant in driving IT investments in the coming year?
Improving security and data protection practices will continue to be a major driver for IT investments in the year ahead. For many organizations, the pandemic abruptly accelerated their journey to the cloud and in some cases without the ideal data protection measures, backups and redundancies needed—this is especially true for smaller IT organizations. I think 2022 will be a catch-up year for some of those gaps as teams look to embrace and expand on their cloud foothold. As a result, I expect to see significant spending on tools that provide visibility and management of cloud and hybrid cloud infrastructure.
What types of roles or skills are you finding—or predicting—to be the most challenging to fill?
With this increased emphasis on cybersecurity and data protection, security and DevOps roles are the most in demand and the hardest to fill right now. I expect this will likely remain the case for the next few years especially as larger companies continue to leverage their scale to offer enticing salaries and benefits. As a result, many smaller companies are struggling to compete in this job market, and I expect to see a move to MSP relationships [outsourcing] for roles where top talent is required to be effective.
What advice would you give to CIOs that are just starting their digital transformation journey?
It is rare for there to be a single “right” way to build something and sometimes the “perfect” solution isn’t the best solution. Throughout any digital transformation journey, it’s critical to focus on how new technologies being adopted will impact both the customer experience and overall operational efficiency. CIOs need to deeply understand the different variables involved in the process to make informed, data-driven decisions on where to invest first to maximize impact. If CIOs are asking the right questions and have properly defined the desired business outcomes, they will be in a strong position to succeed.
How can CIOs help cultivate a company culture that can improve talent acquisition and retention?
Good culture comes down to trust and empowerment. At the end of the day, CIOs want to hire great people and then trust and empower them to take care of the company’s customers. One important way that CIOs contribute is by delivering the guard rails, tooling and visibility necessary to extend that trust while enabling the business to manage its risk—for example, building a FinOps program with automated reporting and alerting so that CIOs can unleash their dev teams to go fast while managing the risk of an unexpected increase in the company’s public cloud spend. The tools, processes and programs managed by CIOs can have a profound impact on work-life balance and job satisfaction, which are also key to good culture. If CIOs treat their people with the same care that they treat the company’s customers, they will attract and retain great people.