Top 5 CIO Priorities in 2022

Cimatri and our research partner, the InfoTech Research Group, are proud to release the CIO Priorities Report for 2022.

Here, we'll walk through the most important goals and challenges that every chief information officer (CIO) and information technology (IT) leader should begin to tackle right away. Alongside these priority initiatives, we detail critical insights from the association and non-profit industry and emerging trends affecting your organization.

Let's dive in.

image of the methodology used to compile the data

To set the stage, here's some background on this new report:

  • The findings are based on a "trends analysis" of survey data and CIO consultations.
  • Two conditions or response patterns are used to create priority goals:
    1. Strong synergy between external factors and internal organizational goals.
    2. Resources are used to either seize the opportunity OR avert risk.  
  • Priority is the “fact or condition of being regarded or treated as more important than others."

Now, to the most pressing CIO priorities this year (and how to best respond)...

Priority #1: Reduce friction in the hybrid operating model 

Deliver solutions that create equity between remote workers and office workers and make collaboration a joy. 

In 2020, CIOs adapted to the pandemic’s disruption to offices by investing in capabilities to enable remote work. With restrictions on gathering in offices, even digital laggards had to shift to an all-remote work model for non-essential workers.  

Associations that did not already have investments in technologies such as web conferencing, instant messaging, and document collaboration scrambled to roll them out to staff. We also saw a sudden shift to adopt virtual meeting platforms so that associations could mitigate the loss of revenue streams from traditional in-person meetings during the pandemic. These tools also helped create opportunities for members to stay connected with the association and to each other. 

In most organizations, a hybrid model is being implemented.
Only 14.9% of organizations are planning for almost everyone to return to the office, and only 9.9% for almost everyone to work remotely. 

InfoTech Research Group

In 2022, the focus shifts to solving problems created by the new hybrid operating model where some employees are in the office, and some are working remotely. Without the ease of collaborating in a central location, technology can play a role in reducing friction in several areas: 

  • Foster more connections between employees. Remote workers are less likely to collaborate with people outside of their department and less likely to spontaneously collaborate with their peers. CIOs should provide a digital employee experience that fosters collaboration habits and keeps workers engaged.  
    We must have tools and processes to support both asynchronous and synchronous collaboration approaches to avoid calendars filling up with videoconference meetings and to accommodate workers contributing from across different time zones. 
  • Prevent employee attrition. With more workers reevaluating their careers and leaving their jobs, CIOs can help employees feel connected to the overall purpose of the organization. Finding a way to maintain culture in the new context will require new solutions. While conference room technology can be a bane to IT departments, making hybrid meetings effortless to facilitate will be more important. 
  • Provide new standards for mediated collaboration. Meeting is not as easy as simply gathering around the same table anymore. CIOs need to provide structure around how hybrid meetings are conducted to create equity between all participants.  We can improve the functionality of conference rooms, develop, and test a new way of working, and increase IT capacity to alleviate pressure points. Business continuity processes must also consider potential outages for collaboration services so employees can continue the work despite a major outage. 
  • Foster engagement with virtual participants. As we return to hosting in-person conferences and events, associations are looking to maintain connections with members and customers who engaged with annual meetings for the first time because of the addition of the virtual meeting option. Associations are experimenting with a mix of in-person meetings, virtual-only meetings, and hybrid meetings that leverage content from the in-person meeting and translate it to a virtual platform and audience.  

Priority #2: Improve your ransomware readiness 

Mitigate the damage of successful ransomware intrusions and make recovery as painless as possible. 

Cybersecurity is always top of mind for CIOs but tends to be deprioritized due to other demands related to digital transformation or due to cost pressures. That is the case when we examine our data for this report. 

Cybersecurity ranked as the fourth-most important priority by CIOs in Info-Tech’s 2022 Tech Trends survey, behind business process improvement, digital transformation, and modernization. Popular ways to prepare for a successful attack include creating offline backups, purchasing insurance, and deploying new solutions to eradicate ransomware. 

CIOs and their direct supervisors ranked “Manage IT-Related Security” as the third-most important top IT priority on Info-Tech’s CEO-CIO Alignment Benchmark for 2021, in support of business goals to manage risk, comply with external regulation, and ensure service continuity.  

Whatever priority an organization places on cybersecurity, when ransomware strikes, it quickly becomes a red alert scenario that disrupts normal operations and requires all hands-on-deck to respond. Sophisticated attacks executed at wide scale demonstrate that security can be bypassed without creating an alert. The perpetrators then build their leverage by exfiltrating data and encrypting critical systems. 

50% of all organizations spent time and money specifically to prevent ransomware in the past year.  

Info-Tech Tech Trends 2022 Survey 

CIOs can plan to mitigate ransomware attacks in several constructive ways: 

  • Business impact analysis. Determine the costs of an outage for specific periods and the system and data recovery points in time. 
  • Engage a partner for 24/7 monitoring. Gain real-time awareness of your critical systems. 
  • Review your identity access management (IAM) policies. Use of multi-factor authentication and limiting access to only the roles that need it reduces ransomware risk.  

The most popular ways that organizations prepared for the event of a successful ransomware attack: 

  1. 25% created offline backups 
  1. 18% purchased cyber insurance 
  1. 19% adopted new technology to eradicate ransomware 

Priority #3: Support an employee-centric retention strategy 

Avoid being a victim of “The Great Resignation” by putting employees at the center of an experience that will engage them with clear career path development, purposeful work, and transparent feedback. 

49% ranked “enabling learning & development within IT” as high priority, more than any other single challenge. 

IT Talent Trends 2022 Survey 

In 2021, many workers decided to leave their jobs. Working contexts were disrupted by the pandemic and that saw non-essential workers sent home to work, while essential workers were asked to continue to come into work despite the risks of COVID-19. These disruptions may have contributed to many workers re-evaluating their professional goals and weighing their values differently. At the same time, 2021 saw a surging economy and many new job opportunities to create a talent-hungry market. Many workers could have been motivated to take a new opportunity to increase their salary or receive other benefits such as more flexibility. 

IT may be less affected than other departments by this trend. Info-Tech’s IT Talent Trends 2022 report shows that on average, the estimated turnover rate in IT is lower than the rest of the organization. Almost half of respondents estimated their organization’s voluntary turnover rate was 10% or higher. Only 30% of respondents estimate that IT’s voluntary turnover rate is in the same range.

Priority #4: Design an automation platform 

Position yourself to buy or build a platform that will enable new automation opportunities through seamless integration.  

When it is said that digital transformation accelerated during the pandemic, what is really meant is that processes that were formerly done manually became automated through software.  

While most organizations became more digitalized during the pandemic, only a handful of associations have the in-house IT skills, resources or will to build a custom toolset. This is why we are big fans of the “buy-it” side of this debate. Partnering with a technology services vendor or leveraging an existing platform can be a successful path for most associations. 

Associations are looking for platforms to integrate their existing systems through application programming interfaces (APIs). Organizations should determine their platform strategies based on their IT maturity, then look to integrate the business processes that will yield the most gains. 

68% of CIOs say digital transformation became much more of a focus for their organization during the pandemic. 

Info-Tech Tech Trends 2022 Survey 

In responses to the Tech Trends survey, CIOs say digital transformation was more of a focus during the pandemic. Eight in ten CIOs also say they shifted more than 20% of their organization’s processes to digital during the pandemic. Automating tasks through software can be called digitalization.  

Priority #5: Prepare to report on new environmental, social, governance (ESG) metrics 

Be ready to either lead or support initiatives to meet the criteria of new reporting mandates and work toward disclosure reporting solutions. 

67% of CIOs say their organization is committed to reducing greenhouse gases, with one-third saying that commitment is public. 

Info-Tech Tech Trends 2022 Survey 

Humans are putting increasing pressure on the planet’s natural environment and creating catastrophic risks as a result. Efforts to mitigate these risks have been underway for the past 30 years. In the decade ahead, regulators are likely to impose strict requirements that will be linked to the financial value of an organization.  

Various voluntary frameworks exist for reporting on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) or corporate social responsibility (CSR) metrics. But now there are efforts underway to unify and clarify those standards. 

The most advanced effort toward a global set of standards is in the environmental area. At the United Nations’ COP26 summit in Scotland last November, the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) announced it is working with an array of voluntary standards groups toward a consensus.  

In the association industry, we are seeing a similar trend in that Boards are sending the message that it is time to get serious about DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) initiatives. We are starting to see some outcomes from these conversations that are impacting the operational level for staff. Association professionals are being asked to collect and track DEI data points about our members and the industries we serve.  

CIOs of professional and trade associations are adopting strategies to protect this new layer of sensitive personally identifiable information. They are also looking for tools to analyze and safely and ethically present the data to internal and external audiences.  

Data privacy policies and processes for staff have taken on increased importance. This new data brings questions about individual access management. For example, we are questioning those long-held practices of giving ALL employees access to the AMS (Association Management Software). 

What both trends have in common is that they are challenging our practices with how we are collecting, using, storing, and sharing data. 

Association CIOs should monitor these trends and start working toward solutions that deliver real-time reporting to make reporting frictionless.  

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