CIOs have a long list of tech initiatives, product deliveries, and IT projects planned for the year ahead. Each one is, of course, important in its own right. Taken all together, though, they’re collectively driving some greater good for the enterprise.
With that in mind, we asked multiple CIOs to share their overarching objectives and goals — or, in the spirit of the New Year, to share their resolutions — for 2022.
Here’s a look at what they want to achieve and how they’re planning to succeed.
1. Maximize people power
Booz Allen Hamilton believes its staff is its greatest resource, so CIO Brad Stone lists enabling each of them as his No. 1 objective for 2022. The goal, he explains, is “providing the services and digital environment that every one of our users wants so they can maximize who they are.”
That’s a big lift for a company with 29,000 employees, who — like employees at many other organizations — will continue in a work-from-anywhere environment.
“We’ve learned a lot about what a hybrid environment means, but we still have a lot of unknowns. We don’t always know what our users want, what work means for them, but we still want to make sure our people are supported no matter where they are or what they’re doing,” Stone says.
He plans to build worker personas, look for commonalities across them, and tap into the user communities to identify needs and then deliver options to meet them — but without creating an overwhelming sprawl of choices.
This objective, he adds, “ties to our core business objective, which is attracting, retaining, and expanding our people.”
2. Be more empathetic
Abha Dogra, senior vice president of digital technology and North America CIO for Schneider Electric, traveled to Mexico in early December to visit workers she hadn’t yet met in person. She considers the trip an early start on her 2022 goal of using more of her emotional quotient, or EQ.
“As tech leaders, we can be IQ-oriented; my behavior is driven by the IQ side of my brain. I don’t believe that will change, but I’d like to give myself a goal to really up my EQ side, where I should now be much more present to my team, physically, emotionally, to really help them evolve,” she says.
She traveled to Monterrey specifically to visit a team working in the company’s digital hub, which opened just months before the start of the COVID pandemic. Dogra says she made it a point to keep open time on her calendar and sit in open spaces, such as the office kitchen, so she could engage with staffers on a personal level and let workers know she’s available to guide, mentor, and teach as much as to lead.
3. Drive customer experience to the next level
Juliano says he envisions building a frictionless customer experience that delivers highly accurate information and directions to where they want to go — and that connects them with the other places they need to be on their journeys.
“We’re part of a big chain and we want to be a frictionless piece of that,” he says, explaining that his vision requires working with other businesses to connect platforms to offer the services customers need.
Juliano’s idea isn’t new, but it was sidelined for a time during the pandemic as other needs took priority. But Juliano is making customer experience a central part of his 2022 plans, building on capabilities, such as new apps for touchless services, that were delivered during the pandemic.
He says he doesn’t have time to waste: “I think customer expectations will double at a high pace now; they expect a fully connected world.”
Others see that, too: The 2022 Tech Trends report from Info-Tech Research Group found that 69% of surveyed IT practitioners believe changing customer expectations will disrupt business in the next 12 months.
4. Retain newfound agility
Organizations that made it through 2020 and 2021 did so, in many cases, because they were able to adapt and adjust through nearly two years of tumult and disruption.
“We all figured out how to be nimble by force. We don’t want to now lose that momentum. I don’t want to see people go back to being overly risk-adverse,” Juliano says.
He believes organizations, including his own, could backslide into past processes that required more steps to approve and make changes. Although he acknowledges the importance of processes and controls to ensure good decisions are made, he wants to see them nimble enough to sustain the same speed they enabled during the pandemic.
“Let’s not forget the lesson we learned: We can move fast. We figured out how to think and flex really quickly. Let’s keep doing it,” he says.
5. Get ready for growth
IT drove a lot of the growth that business saw during the past year.
Expect that to continue, according to the Snow Software 2022 IT Priorities Report, which lists “driving company growth” at No. 7 on its survey of top 12 CIO priorities for 2022.
“Armed with plenty of newfound experiences and reshaped perspective, 2022 will be the year for IT to take all that has been learned, set new baselines, and drive toward new levels of growth,” the report states.
Steve Heilenman, CIO of Benefix.us, a startup in the insurance tech space, has driving growth at the top of his list of resolutions for the upcoming year. The 5-year-old company has seen 121% year-over-year growth in its short history, and Heilenman says IT is essential to enabling the company to continue on that path of rapid growth.
Heilenman says Benefix.us IT is working to stabilize the company’s platform to accommodate that growth while also adding new features, such as the analytics capabilities that customers want and the automation internal teams need to keep pace with the increasing workloads that come with growth.
6. Flex data-driven capabilities
One of the top goals Eric Johnson, executive vice president and CIO of Momentive (formerly SurveyMonkey), has for himself and his organization: driving more business impact through the company’s data program.
Johnson spent the past year building the groundwork to really seize on that opportunity. “We focused investments in data infrastructure, hiring key skills and key wins,” he says. “In 2022 we’ll now push to define larger goals and projects to move the needle on critical business KPIs using data science and [machine learning].”
Management consulting firm McKinsey & Co. puts data as one of six “make-or-break priorities” for CIOs for 2022.
“It’s not much of an exaggeration to say that no important value-creating initiatives for the business are possible without good data. It is literally the lifeblood of the business and should be treated that way,” McKinsey senior partner Aamer Baig writes on the topic, adding that CIOs must focus on quality over quantity and develop “an orchestration capability to make the many data linkages needed to enable advanced experiences.”
Booz Allen’s Stone also had a similar resolution involving data, more specifically to continue pushing the company on its path to being a truly data-driven organization.
“We want to get more value out of the data and to use it more to inform our decisions so we can really achieve better speed of decision-making,” he adds.
7. Optimize the hybrid work culture
For many CIOs, the hybrid work environment — that mix of in-person and remote employees — is here to stay for both their own IT staffers and for their organization’s overall workforce. Thus they’re tasked with both delivering the underlying capabilities and leading and managing the new workplace culture.
But even after nearly two years working in this mode, challenges remain. The Snow Software IT Priorities Report found that 78% of IT leaders said hybrid work could be a burden as they try to hire, maintain, and adequately manage their organization’s growing remote workforce.
It’s not surprising, then, that CIOs are resolved to focus on building a workplace culture tailored to the hybrid model.
Thomas Phelps, senior vice president of corporate strategy and CIO for Laserfiche, is one such IT leader.
“With Laserfiche transitioning to a hybrid work environment, we have an opportunity to hire talent to work from almost anywhere and everywhere. The challenge is how do you sustain a company culture when your human interactions may be limited to a two-inch Zoom thumbnail,” he says.
He adds: “My resolution is to not just lead technology innovation and business performance, but also find new ways to sustain our company culture for hybrid work with leadership that sets the tone and the right mix of digital — and sometimes analog — services and collaboration tools. Some technology solutions will influence what our hybrid work culture looks like, but the biggest impact will come from fostering a culture where teams feel engaged and valued.”
8. Automate, automate, automate
Automation tops the list for Stephen Franchetti, CIO of tech company Samsara, who wants to use the technology to both drive productivity and simplify the user experience.
“We want the people we hire to be focused on the job we hire them for. We want our sales folks to be out there selling and our engineers to be cutting code and creating great products, as opposed to working on administrivia,” he says. “So, automating those repeatable processes through apps, bots, and integrations will be critical for us to remain agile as we grow.”
Moreover, he believes automation is a critical component for future success, seeing it as one way to help his company “evolve, scale effectively, and keep our agile edge in the process.”
Others share his perspective. The Info-Tech 2022 Tech Trends report found that 79% of surveyed IT leaders see automation providing high value to their organization in the year ahead. The report also listed automation as a service as one of its five tech trends to watch in 2022.
According to the Snow Software report, CIOs put “driving innovation for competitive advantage” as No. 5 on their list of 12 top priorities for 2022 — up from the prior year’s No. 9 spot.
Ravi Naik, CIO and executive vice president of storage services for Seagate Technology, rates innovation even higher on his list of 2022 resolutions. In fact, he lists innovation — and more specifically, the ability to innovate within the constraints he has — as his top resolution.
“It’s about scaling all we are doing more efficiently and cleanly in order to reinvest resources into the organization,” he says, noting that it’s critical for growth that IT teams question the status quo. “When innovation is unleashed, we can unlock the value that is stuck in inefficiencies and allow that value to be reinvested into the company. Of course, CIOs cannot do that by themselves. It’s a behavior that needs to be institutionalized. I encourage the entire IT organization to take on that mindset.”
He adds: “We can do more with less not because we are merely starving projects or shutting off the lights, but because we have found a better consumption model thanks to cloud and agility. We need to direct resources where they’re needed most. That is why I want to drive a culture that innovates under constraints.”
The Info-Tech Research Group in its 2022 Tech Trends report identifies complexity as a risk factor for CIOs as they drive forward with certain initiatives. Booz Allen’s Stone agrees, which is why he puts “simplify” as another one of his resolutions for the year ahead.
“I want to simplify our enterprise and simplify our operations,” he says.
He sees the use of more cloud technology as one of the primary ways he’ll drive out complexity, and he believes ridding the organization of bespoke processes and highly tailored applications as another move to make, explaining that both of those can create friction and slow the organization at a time when seamless services and speed are needed to succeed.