Top CIO Priorities For 2020

Caroline Duncan - Nov 29, 2019 8:06:03 PM


The Chief Information Officer (CIO) and other technology leaders in organizations have unique and challenging roles as they navigate an ongoing landscape of change, security threats and skills shortages across the industry.The CIO has an important role to play within an organization, and it is a role that is often evolving to expand and encompass different skills, responsibilities, and knowledge.

A 2017 PriceWaterhouseCoopers study, The Changing Role of the CIO, found that to cope with new business structures and issues, increasingly CIOs need to play roles with business strategy, customer engagement, business growth, and business leadership.


CIOs need to have a thorough understanding of their company and its business objectives – they are no longer just responsible for overseeing IT departments and systems run smoothly. This is because of IT’s central role in ensuring the productivity and profitability of an organization and how IT systems are the lynchpin to project and product successes or failures. 

This holistic understanding of the business and the external business landscape and the needs of customers and stakeholders helps today’s CIO to be responsive in the decision-making process to ensure the smooth delivery of the IT department’s KPIs.

With all this in mind, these are the top challenges that the CIO can expect to prioritize in 2020 and beyond:


1. Driving and embedding digital transformation in the company business strategy

As part of the expectation the CIO needs to take on a more strategic role in their company, this includes an expectation they will be responsible for driving necessary digital transformation across the business.

This includes the balancing act of ensuring the systems are performing well while investing in new infrastructure and fostering innovation to help the business compete in a constantly changing business landscape.


2. Being responsive to internal clients

Internal clients rely on IT systems functioning and being available to them around the clock in order to do their jobs… this is the reality of business life in the 21st century. Unstable systems, outages, slow responses from IT when support is required is frustrating for internal customers and they have little patience when things don’t work – particularly if problems are frequent and the same issues recur, unresolved.

The PriceWaterhouseCoopers report found that 47 % of IT spend in companies is now falling outside the remit of the CIO’s budget while other areas of business invest in their own IT systems and infrastructure.

This is blamed on IT’s traditional inability to respond quickly and flexibly to the business’ requirements.


3. Dealing with disruption

Industry disrupters have changed the business landscape for good across many different industries. As companies have had to respond to these incursions into their traditionally held marketplace, entire business models have needed to be rethought in order to compete. In many instances, disrupters have caused companies to collapse.

For the CIO the challenge will depend on their company’s industry: are the threats there already, or are they likely to come soon? Being placed to respond to new systems and technology required to compete with new business models within the industry is crucial. 

In doing this the CIO needs to be constantly eyeing the future so they can launch new projects and initiatives quickly in order to protect their company’s market share.


4. Finding and keeping top IT talent

A recent Gartner report found that 63 % of senior executives believed that a talent shortage in IT was a key concern facing their organization.

The rapid growth and change in emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence and automation, has meant that there are more requirements for IT specialists within an organization. Unfortunately, there is also a problem finding someone with the niche skill set to fill these roles.

This has created a global skills-gap shortage. And if a CIO is lucky enough to have found the right people for the job, hanging on to them is also a challenge because they are so in demand, a company with more money and a better cultural fit could lure them away.


5. Increasing focus on cybersecurity

Cybersecurity has been a top priority for the CIO for many years now and 2020 will be no different. They need to have a proactive mindset in this area in order to constantly ensure their company’s systems are secure and protected from internal and external threats.

Employees are the biggest risk to any organization when it comes to cybersecurity… from deliberate acts of espionage by disgruntled, disaffected or corrupt employees through to laziness or negligence, the risk within any company lies with those who have been trusted with access to the systems.

Cybercrime is constantly evolving and threats become more and more sophisticated. This includes viruses, malware, ransomware, phishing, and hacking. And business is booming for cybercriminals everywhere!

A recent report from RiskIQ found that every single minute, cybercriminals cost the global economy $2.9 million, with a global annual cost of $1.5 trillion.

Staying ahead of new and emerging threats, identifying ongoing risks, ensuring systems are protected and employees are educated appropriately on cybersecurity risks will be a top priority to protect systems and data from this ongoing and increasing threat.


6. Increasing focus on privacy and security of customer data

How customer data is stored – including health and financial information – has been a focus for regulators around the world in recent years, most notably in the form of Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). It’s expected these requirements will follow in other jurisdictions as the public are increasingly savvy and concerned about information that is kept about them by third parties.

The CIO has a critical role to play in this to ensure that the company is complying with these regulations and that any future changes to systems will continue to comply. The risk of non-compliance can be hefty penalties and other legal issues, as well as negative publicity and reputational damage.



CIOs have really needed to step up and help take their companies to new heights over recent years, and 2020 will be no exception. They’ll have to juggle many balls of accountability and make wise and informed business decisions.

And while their roles are expanding into other areas not traditionally held by the CIO, the ongoing IT needs and IT investment decisions are still just as important and need to be factored into their daily agendas.

This may need to be achieved on a shrinking budget, so looking for ways to do things more efficiently while still delivering on corporate priorities and expectations is crucial.

One of the savviest IT investment decisions a CIO could make in 2020 is DeskAlerts, which can help with many of the challenges to improve communication with the organization, take the pressure off the help desk and improve its internal reputation, and strengthen the cybersecurity culture in the organization.

Contact us today to find out more about how DeskAlerts can help IT leaders in your company to deliver on the priorities and challenges expected in 2020 and beyond.


Topics: IT Issues


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