Two years ago, inflation didn’t even make it into the top 20 issues that CEOs worried about. Now, it’s one of the biggest concern preoccupying CEOs worldwide, thanks to a deeply unsettled economic outlook, the ongoing war in Ukraine, disrupted supply chains, low growth forecasts, and prices that continue rising.
CIOs and technology leaders having risen to the challenge of delivering super-charged, pandemic-driven digitization, now find themselves called upon to pursue further digital transformation (DX) that will keep their organizations competitive through tough times. However, despite IT budgets being forecast to rise by around 5%, inflation is poised to swallow much, if not all, of this promised uplift. CIOs are facing tough decisions as they consider how to do more with less.
Focusing on the following seven investment areas will help to accelerate their organization’s DX goals while navigating an economic climate of uncertainty and rapidly rising prices.
1. Remember, the Customer is King
If the forecasts are correct and the global economy is in for a bumpy ride, getting closer to customers and improving their experience will remain the top agenda item for business leaders. Inflation is already influencing consumer spending power. Customers are increasingly choosy about how they spend their money, competition is fierce, and only the best value propositions will survive. For CIOs, the strategic mission must revolve around supporting the business by getting to know the customers and improving their experience. Tools like a customer experience audit or a customer experience data analytics platform that integrates data from all customer touch points can help.
2. Bring Innovation into Mainstream
Innovation is a spark-filled process that involves an entire team of people willing to look at things differently; a group of individuals willing to fail in the name of trailblazing. This is a process achieved over time, but only with the right ideologies in place.
During economically difficult times, experimentation may feel like a luxury the company cannot afford. But building a culture of innovation is vital to staying creative, competitive, and efficient. For example, technologies like automation and AI, which are already transforming cumbersome, manual business tasks into lean, agile, smart processes. Not only can CIOs continue to improve these processes, but they must also go further.
For example, CIOs will have a central role to play in enabling collaboration and innovation across teams. Gartner believes that digital tools remain key to helping hybrid workers collaborate more effectively. The analyst firm predicts that to break down physical barriers between remote workers, businesses will create a shared space or “intraverse,” a cross between the immersive capabilities of the metaverse and the easy accessibility of a company intranet.
3. Expand Digital Skills
It’s no secret that digital skills are in short supply. Demand for tech talent is growing, and it is pushing wage demands up. CIOs need to be prepared to flash the cash when it comes to attracting and retaining the best people. However, they must also think long term when it comes to digital skills. Right now, just under a third of employees say they have the technology they need to do their job. Fixing that tech gap can seem costly, but if it enables employees to work faster and be more productive, then it could be the right investment.
Furthermore, upskilling existing workers’ digital capabilities may be a smart answer to getting more out of existing digital investments. After all, one of the consequences of increased digitization is that digital becomes part of everyone’s job. Low digital and data literacy may be hampering your organization’s digital transformation.
4. Digital Resilience
Systems that are slow to recover from failures cannot provide a great customer experience. Therefore, improving software security and performance is crucial to keeping the customer at the center of your DX efforts amid inflation. Originally coined by Gartner, digital resilience combines practices and technologies to make software more flexible. Digital resilience ensures that the customer experience isn’t tainted by failures, anomalies, or bugs. Gartner expects that by 2025, organizations that invest in digital immunity will decrease downtime by 80%, in turn improving customer satisfaction.
5. Strategic Partnerships and Rightsourcing
Industries are having to think carefully about how they adjust their pricing to protect themselves from rising inflation. In some cases, that’s already resulted in price rises and IT budgets are feeling the pinch. For CIOs, that means that the usual supplier contracts and vendor agreements may need to change in the near future. Introducing risk/gain sharing and bringing partners’ skin in the game is helpful in such times. Rightsourcing as a procurement method is gaining popularity thanks to its increased focus on delivering strategic upsides for both parties, helping both reach their business goals faster.
6. Work on Employee Retention
Employee experience is one of the biggest trends for 2023. Creating a seamless employee experience is about ensuring employees have the right tools, skills, and support to work effectively. It not only improves employee satisfaction, but it’s also key to ensuring staff retention. And, while employee experience is an all-company, cross-functional initiative, CIOs have the most to gain from its effective implementation. Why? Because IT workers are most likely to consider changing employers, further exacerbating the tech talent crunch for CIOs.
7. Leverage AI and Automation for Sustainable IT Practices
Today’s business leaders are facing rising demands for sustainable technology prioritization from consumers, investors, regulators, and their employees. Gartner expects that by 2025, the performance of more than 50% of CIOs will be judged based at least partially on sustainability initiatives. Sustainability is, rightly, a priority C-suite topic and CIOs have a central role to play in helping to reduce their company’s carbon footprint. At a time of cost sensitivity, reducing unnecessary resource utilization also makes good business sense.
The good news is that in many cases, businesses are already using technologies such as cloud computing, AI, advanced analytics, and automation to streamline existing business processes. By deploying GHG management software, businesses can achieve greater visibility of their resource utilization and understand how to make commercial decisions that are both budget- and planet-friendly.
Digital Transformation is Possible Despite Soaring Inflation
Against global economic headwinds, focusing on the most important strategic digital initiatives will help your business compete and grow. Apexon’s extensive, digital-first experience helps transform the biggest digital ideas into reality. Using proven methodologies, deep domain experience, and industry standards, Apexon leverages continuous intelligence throughout all our client engagements to help organizations reach their goals smarter, faster, and more efficiently.
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