Technological advancements are continuing to alter the business landscape at lightning speed. And each of these technologies offers gazillion possibilities. What an exciting time to be a CTO of a leading company.
Well, it’s also the most challenging of times. After all, the CTO is responsible for the continuous evolution of his company’s strategic technical direction. He/she is also responsible for satisfying the demands of the company’s commercial stakeholders (shareholders, CEO, the board of directors, large investors) while meeting the expectations of their internal clients (employees).
So, as we usher in a new decade with renewed gusto, let’s look at the top 5 things on the mind of today’s CTO.
The workplace has changed dramatically over the past decade. Open offices have become a trend, supported by tools that enable hierarchy-based data access and communication. Firms are relying increasingly on automation to simplify processes and lower the costs of middle-office and back-office functions and integrate them effectively. Advances in computer, telecommunication and photographic technologies have enabled employees to store, edit, distribute and access information at declining costs. From inventory management to tracking work schedules to security management, a combination of hardware, software and networks help businesses increase productivity and reduce human errors.
For CTOs, the challenge lies in understanding the range of these automation mechanisms. How these systems relate to one another and how they can be integrated with the current processes to drive efficiency in a transparent and trackable manner. There are multiple touchpoints in such systems and maintaining their integrity is critical for business success.
2. Internet of Things (IoT)
A hot trend right now is connected devices. Sensors in such intelligent devices are driving new consumer and business behaviour, and the scopes of such systems are yet to be realized. Scaling IoT device networks has been a major concern for CTOs. Leaders have to be aware of issues regarding legacy devices, software and need for specialized solutions. The implementation of such technologies also posed challenges. Lastly, the security of data within the IoT ecosystem remains a possible threat to business integrity.
3. Underutilized Software
Deploying software is often an expensive proposition, both in terms of licensing and maintenance costs as well as the deployment of resources and time. Many leading companies lose a great deal of money as a vast repository of data lies unused in siloed systems. Adding software with a huge range of functionalities is now being considered ineffective and inefficient. Such software not only increase costs but also force the average employee to learn complex systems time and again, hampering productivity. Moreover, the huge amount of data is practically worthless, if it can’t be converted into consumable formats that can aid business decisions.
The challenge for CTOs lies in implementing a single system throughout, rather than having customized versions for every business activity. And, this needs to be done with minimal changes to an employee’s daily work activity or habits.
4. Cyber Security
Leading CTOs believe that the challenge of providing data security and protecting the business from ransomware attacks will remain relevant even a decade from now. As systems become complex, the threat of data theft and external attacks (DDoS) will evolve. It has become imperative for CTOs to approach this problem with a proactive mindset. This includes considering threats from insiders or disgruntled employees. Lack of security training and absence of skilled IT workers cannot be afforded anymore. From customer data breaches to extended periods of network downtimes, such events can have a catastrophic effect on the very survival of businesses.
5. Working with a Distributed Workforce
Employee attitudes towards their jobs are evolving. Companies across sectors are turning towards distributed teams to stay relevant. The creation of such geographically dispersed teams brings in new challenges for IT leaders. Prominent among these is ways to empower remote employees to work together creatively and effectively. Corporate data centres now need to imbibe a combination of multi-cloud, collocated and on-premise environments to support them. Again, security is a primary concern in maintaining these borderless connections.
These are exciting and challenging times for global CTOs. Their success in dealing with these challenges will lie in their ability to form effective partnerships, both with talented employees and trusted vendors.
As the global CTO moves towards building a crystal clear 20:20 vision for the future, they will be required to tackle a myriad of challenges and harness varied opportunities.