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CIO playbook for 2018: Leading analysts break down the trends

Cloud consolidation. Investing in the network. RPA. API management. These are among the issues CIOs ought to be paying attention to in 2018, according to leading analysts.

Enterprises are quickly moving from traditional legacy infrastructure to the cloud to keep up with nimble competitors. We reached out to leading analysts to weigh in on some of the emerging trends that CIOs need to consider in 2018. While new technologies like AI show real promise, CIOs also need to be practical in their big data initiatives. Other pointers? API management and dynamic networks need more strategic management to complement digital transformation.

CIO playbook: Cloud exploits

  • Go Time! for cloud computing

"Forrester has declared 2018 as cloud computing 'Go Time!' Enterprise CIOs can't sit on the fence any longer and wait for competitors to leverage cloud platforms to create new customer-obsessed apps and insights. Cloud is no longer about cheap servers or storage -- cloud platforms are the digital transformation engines driving the best customer experiences.

"In 2018, we'll cross the 50% mark for global adoption of public cloud platforms by enterprises. That's up from just 10% in 2013. Spending will also rise more than 22% in 2018. 2018 will also bring dramatic growth in the use of cloud development platforms – [platform-as-a-service] features like continuous app delivery, automated app deployment, containers and Kubernetes services from AWS (Amazon Web Services), Google, Microsoft, IBM, Oracle and others, and continued growth in adoption for cloud-native development platforms like Cloud Foundry and OpenShift.

Dave BartolettiDave Bartoletti

"Be alert, though, as cloud consolidation is underway; CIOs should plan for some lock-in as they use more cloud services, and hedge against it wherever possible, but not at the expense of speed. SaaS (software as a service) vendors will all add development platforms as well, allowing enterprises to get more from their investment in leading SaaS apps by extending them with new machine learning, [the internet of things] and analytics services."
-- DAVE BARTOLETTI, VP and principal analyst at Forrester

  • Cloud-centric business models upend people and processes
James KobielusJames Kobielus

"CIOs are at the forefront of their organizations' evolution into cloud-centric business models. In 2018, CIOs will drive businesses' ongoing exploration of blockchain and will take the lead on using this emerging technology to make their digital value chains, both internal and external, far more flexible, efficient and secure.

"In 2018, CIOs will take the lead on bringing robotic process automation to every desktop, which will accelerate repetitive administrative processes and, thereby, boost knowledge-worker productivity. In 2018, CIOs will oversee the increasing integration of AI-infused digital assistant technology into every business application, as well as within all customer-facing e-commerce systems, and will use this trend as a wedge to begin scaling back human-staffed call centers and help desks. Finally, in 2018, CIOs will become key players in their organizations' moves away from web-based applications toward an edge strategy in which mobile, embedded and internet of things devices become the primary touchpoints to all customers, employees, partners and other stakeholders."
-- JAMES KOBIELUS, lead analyst, SiliconAngle Wikibon

  • Consider new options cautiously, cloud included
Charles KingCharles King

"CIOs face regular, considerable problems, but there's probably no greater challenge than balancing the need for innovation with the danger of becoming overwhelmed by technological options. Consider, for example, the dozens of new cloud services introduced at the recent AWS Re:Invent conference. If your organization is working with AWS (as many are), how do you gain insights into those new options, incorporate them into the scores of other services you already use and make sure your organization is getting the best value for its investments? Similar issues plague other functions, especially high-visibility concerns, like security threats.

"So, it's critical for CIOs to occasionally step back and consider how they analyze and adopt new solutions and services. Nobody wants to be left behind when a hot new technology arrives at the station. But mistakenly climbing on board a popular trend can result in wasted time and money, and a journey to nowhere."
-- CHARLES KING, president and principal analyst at Pund-IT

CIO Playbook: Show-me-the-money AI, machine learning

Torsten VolkTorsten Volk

"The days of 'everything machine learning is cool and worthwhile' will be over soon and they will be replaced with the need to 'shift left' and prove the customer value, cost reduction or speed increase that ML/AI brings. It remains true that every discipline in development, operations and business can benefit tremendously from ML/AI, but to make this happen, organizations must show the same discipline in terms of applying metrics, as they are currently showing when pushing hard for DevOps value chain management.

"Successful ML/AI vendors in 2018 will focus as much on showing the limits of their solutions as they will push to show its immediate value. At the same time, this means that we will see more ambitious and broader approaches, with less manual input needed. As long as we are open about the obviously needed holes in these solutions, we will jointly find innovative solutions to gradually close these holes while preserving the universal character of these software solutions."
-- TORSTEN VOLK, analyst with Enterprise Management Associates

  • Take practical steps with RPA
Craig Le ClairCraig Le Clair

"Robotic Process Automation (RPA) will add 500,000 US digital workers. In many enterprises, from corporate offices to back-office administration to the contact center, humans toil with low-value repetitive tasks and rote work, filling gaps between one legacy app and another. RPA automates these activities and tasks, improving productivity and freeing up worker time for higher-value work.

"In 2018, RPA-based digital workers (i.e., bots) will replace and/or augment 311,000 office and administrative positions and 260,000 sales and related positions. As a result, the RPA software market will remain heated and exceed $500 million by the end of 2017 and double to $1.06 billion by the end of 2018.

"View RPA as a practical step in your automation journey. Don't get carried away by the euphoria of RPA successes; always check whether a non-AI or less complex solution can solve your problem first. By the end of 2018, RPA will embed AI building blocks that tackle unstructured content and make dynamic decisions. These capabilities will allow you to apply RPA to even more use cases."
-- CRAIG LE CLAIR, principal analyst at Forrester

CIO Handbook: The network as strategic asset

  • Treat networking as a strategic investment
Joe SkorupaJoe Skorupa

"The biggest trend is the need to treat networking as a strategic investment and not an expense to be minimized. Digital transformation depends on an up-to-date network. Year over year, enterprises reduce the spend on networking and end up behind. Enterprises need an agile flexible network that is in the data center, on the campus and across the wide areas. They also need the ability to connect to multiple clouds. Over the last five years, whether as a percent of IT spend, or total cost, networking has gone down. Investment in digital business has gone almost vertical, while investment in networking has gone down because it is seen as tactical.

"Part of the problem is that networking teams have not been able to explain the importance of network investment to CIOs. They talk about speeds and feeds. As a result, CIOs tend to think about the bottom line in terms of cutting costs, rather than the top line of supporting new business initiatives. CIOs don't think twice about budgeting for more compute and storage. They have just assumed the network is already there and we don't need anything new. Gartner has a strategic planning assumption that organizations that fail to treat networking as a strategic investment will be three times as likely to fail in digital business transformation."
-- JOE SKORUPA, distinguished analyst at Gartner

CIO Playbook: CMO and CIO better together

  • Integrate marketing silos
Joe StanhopeJoe Stanhope

"In 2018, CIOs need to work with the business to connect marketing technology with the business's overall technology strategy. Marketing technology now consumes data from across the enterprise and has wide-ranging implications for customer engagement across all touchpoints and throughout the customer journey.

"Unfortunately, because marketing technology is highly dynamic and distributed across internal owners and external parties such as agencies, martech is too often considered a stand-alone entity apart from business technology. But high-performing customer experience firms will bypass silos when the CIO and CMO work together to create a body of technology that can win, serve and retain customers consistently within the enterprise's strategy for technology, infrastructure, data and security."
-- JOE STANHOPE, principal analyst at Forrester

CIO Playbook: Digital disruption now and for the future

  • Raise digital IQ
Tom PuthiyamadamTom Puthiyamadam

"Even the word digital means something different than it did 10 years ago. It used to be synonymous with IT. Nowadays, a company's digital strategy practically serves as a roadmap for all departments, setting goals and dictating strategy from marketing to sales to HR. With technology so front and center, one would expect that today's companies have a much better digital IQ than they did way back in 2007, right? The answer, surprisingly, is no.

"Our latest survey, which polled 2,216 executives at companies with annual revenues of more than $500 million, found executives' confidence in their organization's digital abilities is actually at the lowest it has been since we started tracking. Just 52% of executives rated their digital IQ as strong, down 15% from the year before."
-- TOM PUTHIYAMADAM, global leader at PwC

  • Make APIs part of your business model
Paolo MalinvernoPaolo Malinverno

"APIs have reached CIO attention, and many API programs will start or get out of infancy in 2018. Many CIOs and CDOs (chief digital officers) now realize APIs open new business opportunities. However, too many CIOs make the mistake of seeing APIs as technology only, instead of basing their company's business models, digital strategies, platforms and ecosystems on them. APIs make digital society and digital business work; they are the basis of every digital strategy, but many enterprises fail to unlock the value of their ecosystems by not making company data and functions accessible in a secure manner. Progressively, now and in the next few years, an average enterprise will consume more APIs than it will provide, maximizing the needs of an API management platform."
-- PAOLO MALINVERNO, distinguished analyst at Gartner

  • Rethink the status quo
Al GillenAl Gillen

"One thing CIOs should be thinking about doing in 2018 is to rethink the status quo. The world is changing very quickly around them, and those who are not aggressively disrupting and innovating are likely to find themselves disrupted from outside."
-- AL GILLEN, program VP, system software at IDC

This was last published in December 2017

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