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CIO Trends, Concerns, and Challenges for 2018

As 2018 approaches, IT decision-makers are busy planning and prioritizing their initiatives for 2018.

We received a great response to our 2017 CIO Budget Checklist, so we’ve decided to update our recommendations for 2018.

For this year's checklist, we looked at several reputable CIO surveys, and we researched technology, talent, and marketplace trends.

We’ve distilled all this research to give you a sense of CIO priorities for the coming year. While many of the trends from 2017 will continue, we noticed one major shift in CIO priorities over the past 12 months.

In 2017, talent was the top concern; however, for 2018, we see innovation as the top CIO priority.2018_cio_trends-min.jpg

Innovation and Digitalization Is Key for Success in 2018 and Beyond

According to data collected in the Gartner 2017 CIO Survey, participation in a digital ecosystem is a key indicator of a high-performance organization.

A wide majority of top performers (79%) participate in a digital ecosystem.  

To determine which organizations were top, typical, and trailing performers, Gartner analysts measured enterprises on digital maturity, or digitalization.

Participation in a digital ecosystem is considered evidence of digital maturity.

Digital Ecosystem Participation
Top Performers 79%
Typical Performers 49%
Trailing Performers 24%

Gartner defines a digital ecosystem as an interdependent group of entities (things, people, enterprises) that share standardized digital platforms to achieve a mutually beneficial goal or purpose.

Digital ecosystem adoption offers enhanced access to the market (including rich customer data) and is a means to enhanced productivity and increased innovation speed.

1. Innovation and Digitalization: separating from the pack

Innovation and digitalization are 2 key and interrelated factors that separate top performing organizations from the rest of the crowd.

Digitalization creates an open channel between an organization and its customers.

The better an organization understands its customer base, the better it will be at developing innovative services and products that will appeal to its customers.

Most companies have recognized the need for digitalization-driven innovation, which is evidenced by their budget plans.


Gartner’s survey results show that 47% of top performers listed business intelligence (BI) and analytics as one of the top 3 areas in which they planned to invest most of their new or discretionary funding in 2016.

We expect this investment trend to continue in 2018. As indicated by the table below, top performers are likely to continue to invest in BI and analytics tools.

[Related: 5 Tips to Creating a Big Data Analytics Strategy]

Analytics are key to digital value. Armed with actionable intelligence about their customers’ wants and needs, organizations can leverage technology to quickly develop innovative products and services that will appeal to their customer base.

Top 3 Technology Investments
Area of Technology Top Typical Trailing
BI/Analytics 47% 48% 31%
Cloud Services/Solutions 34% 26% 29%

2. Skills and resources a significant concern for CIOs

While the talent shortage has dropped in priority this year, it is still a significant concern for CIOs.

Innovation and talent are codependent.

Data experts interpret data and extract actionable meaning and insights.

Their insights can be used to develop targeted services and products that will appeal to customers.

Developers, IT professionals, and engineers supply the technological support and skills needed to create innovative new products and services.

Organizations continue to report concerns and difficulties in the areas of talent acquisition and retention. 81% of companies surveyed for the Randstad 2016 Q4 Talent Intelligence Outlook Report said their business will be affected by talent scarcity in the next 12 months.

How CIOs Are Combating Talent Shortages

Because talent shortages continue to be a top concern for CIOS, many are using technology to find creative staffing solutions.

Here are a few novel ways that organizations are addressing their talent challenges:

  • — Automation and robotics for repetitive or mundane tasks to free internal resources

  • — Procurement of third party support, such managed services, cloud services, staff augmentation, and consulting

  • — Training programs and educational opportunities to build internal expertise

  • — Freelance, flexible, and remote staff
  • Management Influence

    As technology now plays a central role in organizations, especially among top performers, CIOs are being asked to play a bigger role.

  • There are 3 discreet things CIOs can do to bring value to their organizations, according to the Deloitte University Press 2016-2017 Global CIO Survey:

  • 1. Trusted operators: Can be relied upon to deliver performance reliability, operational efficiency, and enabling technologies

  • 2. Instigators of change: Take a proactive lead on technology-driven business transformation. Allocate a substantial amount of time to delivering emerging technologies and supporting business strategy.

  • 3. Co-creators of the business: Use technological tools such as BI and analytics, to drive business strategy. Facilitate change to support effective execution of business strategy.

  • A look at a CIO's budget

  • cio_budget_priorities_2018.jpg

    To understand CIOs’ priorities, look at their budgets.

  • Here are CIO budgeting statistics for 2016, courtesy of the Gartner survey.

  • Take note of the top 3 entries. All 3 are integral to digitalization and participation in digital ecosystems.

  • How Top Performers Spent Their Technology Budgets in 2016
    BI/Analytics 47%
    Cloud services/solutions 34%
    Digitalization/digital marketing 20%
    Infrastructure and data center 20%
    Mobility and mobile apps 16%
    Cyber/information security 13%
    Industry-specific applications 10%

The top 3 line-items in the chart above show the increasing importance of digitalization.

Top performers are investing heavily in BI/analytics, cloud services, and digitalization.

As digitalization moves toward maturity, the most successful businesses will function inside complex digital ecosystems.

These ecosystems provide an environment for rapid innovation, increased productivity, and instantaneous market access.

CIOs can align their priorities to reflect the trend of greater digitalization and participation in digital ecosystems.

Leading organizations are making innovation a top priority, with talent acquisition and retention coming in as a close second.

Written by IBM BP Network