It is difficult to imagine a workplace in any industry that does not rely on technology to some extent. More and more, we are becoming dependent on the digital world every day. When it works well, most employees don’t think twice about the technology at their fingertips, but as soon as a program crashes or a network goes down for even a minute, panic often ensues.
As the digital landscape continues to shift and grow at a rapid pace, CIOs and other core technical positions have a powerful and important role to play in keeping an organization productive, efficient, and operating smoothly. The more complex and deeply layered your tech environment, the greater the risk of malfunction and service needs. But the potential difficulties don’t stop there. Here are the top challenges for IT executives.
Security is a constant concern for business owners, and the burden of being the general in the war against cyberattacks falls on the shoulders of key IT leaders. Too often, a CIO is faced with contradictory goals, pressured to produce the most secure tech plans at the lowest cost with the easiest user interface. It takes a lot of foresight and planning to be able to protect an organization against future tech threats, but it has become increasingly necessary.
Failure to secure an organization against cyberattack can be costly, and there are a great number of avenues down which an attack can turn. It is estimated that there are 10 billion devices connected to the internet currently. Each internet-connected device inside a company can pose a weak security point, and it is the CIO who must determine policies that will secure these points of connectivity with the resources they have available.
Too Much Data
Every day data is pouring into every organization. While this can be empowering in helping an organization learn about their customers or the way things are running internally, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the tremendous levels of information. In certain industries such as healthcare, the most significant barrier to data analytics is not knowing what to look for.
CIOs must make the big decisions on how their team will search the data to figure out what is useful and what isn’t. They also will be the ones to decide if the organization should invest in new software or consulting services to help break down data silos and encourage better transfer and sharing of data between departments. Breaking down walls and building bridges is often the only way to draw more meaningful conclusions from it.
Not just a topic for the marketing department, IT executives must also take an active part in analyzing and improving customer engagement for an organization. With so much data available on every customer, if departments work together to personalize and deliver an exceptional experience, it can significantly increase customer satisfaction, loyalty, and sales.
Mobile is one rapidly growing area with huge opportunities for customer engagement. Many consumers are using their phones and tablets to interact with an organization, so it is important for a CIO to examine any area where a customer interacts with their business and to optimize it from a mobile standpoint. Waiting until customer service or IT support staff report customer complaints is passive, but an IT executive can implement a more proactive approach to give customers a streamlined experience.
Hiring and Retaining Staff
With many IT jobs and skills in extremely high demand and short supply, one of the most significant challenges for an IT executive is in employee management. While a CIO can land top talent by following best practices in hiring for the evolving IT role, that employee will not last long if they are being lured away by other companies offering them attractive packages. In order to keep a top performer for the long run it takes more than simply offering them more money.
Workplace environment and culture is an underutilized tool in retaining IT talent. Employees value perks such as free food, fun team-building activities, and performance rewards. Flex schedules are also highly sought after by workers. If their tasks allow for it, granting them one day per week to work from home may be just the thing to keep them from entertaining a rival’s offer. Adding leadership development will likewise assist in retention, as the generational shift in IT has more millennials entering the workplace who value continued learning on the job.
Navigating the Top Challenges for IT Executives
With the reliance on technology ingrained into every department of an organization, the challenges for IT executives can sometimes be tough to address. Recognizing the problem areas that are sometimes overlooked is the first step forward in overcoming difficulties and turning them into opportunities.