Looking into the next decade for the CIO

businessman hand hold crystal ball with building inside

As we enter the next decade, I thought I would take a slightly unconventional approach to the top eight issues facing CIOs. CIOs are in a unique position to lead their company into new opportunities, and technology is at the forefront. While most companies will reside with the rest of the pack, a few will take a strong leadership position that both differentiates their company and creates greater customer value.

Let’s get to the list. For each of the eight items, I address where the pack will be versus where the leaders will be. Here are the top eight issues facing CIOs as we head into the next decade:

Tech Debt: Technical debt is not a sexy term or issue. It is frankly boring to talk about. Tech debt includes more than just old systems. It also includes old architectures and processes. The reality is that organizations have kicked this can down the road far enough. Now it is time to take action and start to retire that debt in earnest. This is not a one-year activity. It will take time, planning, execution and resources to migrate and retire old systems, architectures and processes.

The pack will have a plan and start to execute the plan in earnest. Leaders will have retired most if not all of their tech debt.

Cybersecurity: Cybersecurity is a perennial topic that shows up on everyone’s list including your board of directors. The change this decade is that we start thinking about how to engage cybersecurity differently. The difference is that we need to think about cybersecurity more holistically from the underlying hardware silicon up through the application and across the delivery paradigm from edge-to-cloud. The combination of these factors exponentially increases the degree of complexity and requirement for a new approach to manage risk.

The pack will start to move toward a holistic approach to cybersecurity. Leaders will have developed a new architecture that considers the complexity of edge-to-cloud while balancing their risk/ reward that aligns with their organization’s appetite for risk.

AI: Artificial Intelligence is all the rage. But what is it? In many ways, it is a way to gain insights to data not previously possible. Most will ultimately consume AI as a feature in a product as opposed to AI being a separate product.

The pack will continue to use core applications and services and pickup AI as part of those products. Leaders will actively seek out and leverage AI functions in those products and services to gain business advantage.

Cloud: Cloud is still the single biggest opportunity for enterprises. Enterprises are already using some form of both hybrid and multi-cloud. Hybrid cloud being the vertical approach to using both public and private cloud resources. Multi-cloud being the horizontal approach of using multiple public cloud providers. Enterprises often get started with one or more public clouds and move down the stack to private cloud due to either latency and/or regulatory, compliance and privacy requirements.

Enterprises are leveraging cloud to open up new opportunities. On the flip side, the increase in cloud use increases the degree of complexity and risk profile. In many ways, it becomes a balancing act to ensure that the two are kept in check.

The pack will take a more reactive approach to using cloud as needed. Leaders will aggressively leverage cloud for those applications that help differentiate their company while effectively managing their risk profile.

Edge: Companies are starting to look at ways to leverage edge to get applications and services closer to the customer and sources of data. Edge will change the operating models for compute, storage, networks, data centers and the fundamental way data is processed. For customers, edge creates new opportunities and customer experiences not previously possible. In addition, edge is often part of a larger architecture that encompasses the enterprise edge-to-cloud strategy.

The pack will be experimenting and dipping their toe in the water looking at ways to leverage edge. Leaders will be proactively seeking ways to change the customer experience while leveraging data coming from their edge devices.

Data: Data is one of the most critical components for an enterprise today. Enterprises are looking to unlock the power of the data already at hand. In addition, they are looking to integrate the increasing varied data sources, analyze data, provide greater insights and ultimately increase the value to organization. At the same time, enterprises must navigate the increasingly complicated regulatory, compliance and privacy requirements.

The pack will integrate data and leverage AI within existing applications. Leaders will orchestrate data like a symphonic concert as part of their edge-to-cloud strategy that both enhances customer experiences and provides access to new sources of data for greater insights and faster decisions.

5G: 5G will make a significant presence in 2020. Enterprises look to leverage the new opportunities that 5G brings through the use of edge, AI and new network possibilities. While 5G is still in the very early stages, enterprises will still look at ways to leverage it in a meaningful way.

The pack will hold off on leveraging 5G in production while experimentation continues to happen. Leaders will look at 5G to catapult their capabilities by creating new customer experiences, access to new business models and opportunities.

Research Computing: This is a topic often left to academic and research organizations. However, research computing is making its way into the enterprise as they look to enhance the insights from their data. As enterprises increase their use of edge-to-cloud, the need will only increase. Cloud will provide some assistance as a starting point, but those working at a certain scale will need their own approach to high performance computing (HPC).

The pack will likely leverage cloud for their research computing needs. Leaders will develop their own HPC environment and research agenda specific to their own needs.


Leading enterprises are already addressing each of these eight items. And those enterprises are already seeing the positive impact to their customers, their operations and their position in their industry.

As enterprises look to transform their business, technology plays an increasingly central role. Time is of the essence. It is equally important that enterprises only take on what they are capable of. It is common for there to be gaps between what an organization is capable of versus what they need. This is a good place to leverage trusted partners to bridge the gap.


This post is sponsored by Intel.

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