2020 was a year of challenges, paradigm shifts, and rapid adaptability in the face of uncertainty. While the Covid-19 pandemic forced organisations to work remotely, it also brought technology to the forefront like never before. And while in 2019, businesses viewed digitalisation as a process that was simply ‘nice to have’, today, digital adoption is no longer an option but a necessity for survival.
In 2021, as technology continues to play an increasingly important role in business, CTOs and CIOs must discover new ways to scale-on demand, work seamlessly, and deliver more value than ever before. And so, we’ve made a list of the top four challenges for CTOs and CIOs in 2021 — factors that they should focus on to generate more revenue, improve customer acquisition and retention, and streamline operations.
1. Responding to the impact of Covid-19
According to 59% of the respondents of a recent survey, one of the biggest challenges for CTOs and CIOs in 2021 is recovering their business operations that were affected by Covid-19.
With entire countries on lockdown, travel restrictions, and the global rise of remote teams, IT leaders have several challenges to overcome. Budgetary planning, improving accessibility, increasing the use of VPNs, and establishing seamless backend operations — these are a few of the many topics that need to be addressed. And so, 2021 will be the year where IT will take centre stage, putting every organisation’s recovery plan to test.
“In today’s era of volatility, there is no other way but to reinvent. The only sustainable advantage you can have over others is agility, that’s it. Because nothing else is sustainable. Everything else you create, somebody else will replicate.”
While many companies are hoping to tighten their 2021 IT budgets, others aim to spend more on technologies to help make the transition to remote work smoother. In fact, with 19% of organisations planning on making work from home a permanent concept in 2021 and beyond, this is a much-needed IT upgrade. Besides, 2021 will also see an increase in the number of offshore teams, with companies looking to hire the best talents in the industry without the sky-high operational costs of hiring locally.
With the concept of remote and global teams becoming increasingly popular and technology evolving at a dizzyingly fast rate, one of the primary challenges for CTOs and CIOs in 2021 is cybersecurity.
Though hackers have existed since the Internet was established, the number of cyberattacks has significantly increased in recent times. In fact, according to RiskBased, data breaches exposed 36 billion records in the first half of 2020. And in 2021, this number is expected to increase unless IT leaders can devise a sure-fire, proactive, and strategic cybersecurity system. Strict data privacy regulations are quickly becoming the new norm, making data governance and protection one of the most pressing challenges for CTOs and CIOs.
And so, some of the top priorities for IT leaders this year include reviewing data access policies, securing remote tools, and migrating to SaaS applications and cloud data centres. We’ve also written a comprehensive guide on implementing cybersecurity when working with remote and distributed teams that can prove to be helpful for IT leaders who are looking to implement data security practices in 2021.
3. Providing a positive customer experience
As Jerry Gregoire once said, “Customer experience is the next competitive battleground”. And as customers’ lives become increasingly digital, one of the crucial challenges for CTOs and CIOs in 2021 is ensuring that they deliver great CX.
5G networks, mobile and contactless solutions, and high-quality digital experiences have made it necessary for businesses to interact with customers using targeted, customized messaging and services. This is where technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning can prove to be invaluable.
While brands and organisations that invest in replacing their legacy IT systems with modern technologies will pull ahead of competitors to emerge as industry leaders, others that fail to do so will simply be left behind.
4. Cloud adoption
The Covid-19 pandemic has forced many different changes to be made to office operations, and one such change is the adoption of cloud-centric infrastructure. In fact, according to IDC, enterprise cloud spending in 2020, both public and private, increased by 34.4% from the previous year.
“With the cloud, individuals and small businesses can snap their fingers and instantly set up enterprise-class services”
While tech giants like Amazon and Microsoft will cement their dominance in the cloud-computing market, other global organisations may not be so lucky, thanks to the financial stress of the pandemic. And so, cloud growth and digital resilience are key challenges for CTOs and CIOs in 2021.
There’s no doubt that 2020 was one for the record books. However, 2021 is a time of enormous change for organisations — a year that will transform some of the most significant challenges for CTOs and CIOs into a sustainable and secure business model. And in the words of Warren Buffet, “There will be interruptions, and I don’t know when they will occur, and I don’t how deep they will occur, I do know they will occur from time to time, and I also know that we’ll come out better on the other end”.
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