The State of Tech Leadership: Predictions and Insights from CIOs for 2022
Last year, we faced an overheated hiring market, upped our software investments, and found a new normal in an uncertain world. The big question facing leaders now is what to do moving forward into 2022.
I was fortunate enough to connect with Eric Johnson, CIO of Momentive.ai, about his approach to IT leadership for the new year.
Johnson is the first to acknowledge how much times have changed for IT leaders. “Funding is not an issue anymore,” he affirms, “especially around key business objectives where data and business automation is involved with a clear and rapid ROI.”
When asked how his role has been changing at Momentive, he revealed how data has become a top priority, coming close to security and compliance.
“Security will always be there, but today, data is huge,” shares Johnson, “If I could give one piece of advice for CIOs going into 2022, it would be to position data as something that can be a real business driver,” Johnson says.
This shift is exciting for tech leaders who now have an opportunity to make a measurable business impact. “There’s no denying CIO has come out of the back office,” reports Johnson, “and has earned a massive seat at the table.
“There’s no denying CIO has come out of the back office and has earned a massive seat at the table.
In addition to what I learned from Eric, I surveyed several tech CIOs to hear their predictions for the year. Here are the results of the survey:
Top hires for 2022
- Security professionals
- Software developers
- DevOps engineers
- Systems analysts
Top technology purchases for 2022
- Analytics/Data warehousing
- (Tied) Cloud migration, RPA, and machine learning/AI
A new era for the CIO
When asked how his role is changing in 2022, Gainsight CIO Karl Mosgofian remarked that he is a key driver in “scaling to be a much larger company and IT organization.”
Sharon Mandell, CIO of Juniper Networks, reports that “driving more business alignment and enabling business-IT” is one of her primary focuses for the new year, as well.
It’s true that traditional IT priorities of managing security and compliance have shifted to driving enterprise-level growth. And this trend has proven to be industry-agnostic—because nowadays, every company is a tech company. Increasing productivity, scaling infrastructure, and leveraging data have all become key business objectives that ultimately fall under the jurisdiction of the CIO. The modern CIO has the ability to create a real competitive advantage.
In 2022, funding is not an issue and investors are eager to invest in tech. The business is relying on you to take leadership here. Identifying and spearheading efforts that demonstrate value to the business has become central to the evolution of the CIO.
Investing in proactive security
Despite the evolution of the CIO role, security and compliance continue to form the backbone of IT. Eric’s focus on security is shared among the CIOs polled, who collectively ranked security professionals and cybersecurity as 2022’s top hire and top software purchase respectively.
With remote work still prevalent in 2022 in addition to managing an ever-expanding technological landscape that spans every corner of the business, being reactive to security threats poses too great of a risk.
Abenza CIO David Williamson noted that he is putting more emphasis on cybersecurity in 2022, and advised other CIOs to “invest in proactive security measures—it’s much cheaper than fixing a breach.”
Avoiding threats is a win in and of itself, but also comes with subsequent opportunities. Investing first in a solid cybersecurity foundation frees up time and resources for your team to focus on the fun stuff, i.e., real innovation.
Leveraging data for growth
Eric challenges CIOs to really ask themselves if they are fully embracing what they can do with data. Simply taking tickets and building dashboards for people means you’re missing opportunities.
“Data is still a huge component of where we’re headed in regards to scale,” he shares, “The number of programs I’m running around data is probably 10x of what it was a few years ago.”
“Data programs that are running today are starting to become core to business strategy for the next year,” Eric claims, “When the business decides that they need to be able to do expansion from a sales motion, all of a sudden, the data team is a key part in building all the analytics and predictive models for how to go about doing it.”
“Data programs that are running today are starting to become core to business strategy for the next year.”
And leveraging data is now easier than ever before. The data space is exploding with new technology—cutting-edge stuff that’s going to make your job easier. There are so many companies that are showing up, especially around machine learning and data science, that allow you to accelerate data programs like never before. This is why analytics and data warehousing were ranked as the second top tech purchase that CIOs are making in 2022.
Advising caution in 2022
For two years now, people have been sequestered in their houses, torn between managing their jobs, their families, and their personal lives. As we get into a new year, it’s a reminder for many people that we are still not back in the office.
“Something I’ve been asking myself is how do I get motivated, lead by example, and motivate my teams?” Eric reveals. As we enter our third year living with the pandemic, the way CIOs are approaching this and similar foreseeable obstacles vary from cautious to hopeful.
Karl Mosgofian is wary about what 2022 may hold, and advises us to “prepare for potential let down—we are about to see if 2021 was a catch-up year, or set a new normal for growth.” His message rings true to many leaders. We’re not out of the woods yet, and with potential delays, travel freezes, and policy changes, instability is still impacting the business world.
Sharon Mandell echoes this sentiment, suggesting that CIOs “focus on time to value and flexibility. Be ready to pivot as covid and geopolitical uncertainty affects business conditions.”
Progress Software Corp CIO/EVP Ian Pitt, on the other hand, takes a realistic but optimistic stance: “Lead from the front on remote/hybrid working, take no prisoners, collaborate with every single C-suite member. 2022 may be the first time you meet them in person.”