The Top 5 Challenges CIOs Are Facing in 2023

15 Jun 2023

by Deborah Theseira

The CIO role has never been more critical to business success than it is today. While the role is rooted in strong technical expertise, the CIO role in digital transformation today moves from a purely technological focus to shaping strategy. CIOs are expected to maintain effective IT operations, facilitate data transparency, aid business agility, spearhead innovation, and ensure a robust cybersecurity and data privacy strategy. Expectations are higher than ever, with significant challenges that CIOs need to overcome. Here are the top five challenges CIOs face in 2023’s fast-paced digital landscape.

Challenge 1: Cybersecurity and Data Privacy

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are the hottest topics in tech today. With the excitement of emerging technology comes the fear of how that technology can be misused. In 2022, digital supply chain risk was at an all-time high, and Gartner has predicted that by 2025, 45% of global organizations will be impacted in some way by a supply chain attack. Cybersecurity and data privacy weighs heavily on the minds of CIOs today, with the cost of data breaches averaging $4.35 million in 2022.

Safeguarding data and ensuring regulatory compliance is mission critical, and CIOs need to develop strategies that ensure compliance and minimize risk exposure. One way to get a better handle on the enterprise’s data and compliance is data lineage. It allows the business to see where specific data resides physically, which applications can access or modify it, who owns it, and how it is currently used. This greatly eases due diligence and compliance efforts, allowing the IT organization to focus resources on securing where, when, and how the most critical data in the organization is accessed or changed.

Challenge 2: Digital Transformation and Innovation

The CIO’s burgeoning role in shaping organizational strategy and better business execution means that they need to be able to cut through data clutter to get to the right information and insights. They need to develop roadmaps that leverage digital technology to enhance, expand or evolve the business’ products and services. These roadmaps should also include ways to leverage up-and-coming technology to keep their organizations competitive.

Key to this is being able to harness the power of the business’ data to shift conversations and culture. CIOs are often working against the outdated perception that IT is a cost center that only serves to help with execution, so they need to able to demonstrate that IT is a value-creating modernization and innovation partner. Learn more about how CIOs can succeed in enterprise transformation and become top partners in business strategy in The CIO's Guide to Enterprise Transformation.

the cio's guide to enterprise transformation

Challenge 3: Cloud Adoption and Infrastructure Modernization

While cloud migration has become par for the course and is less of a buzz topic in tech these days, many organizations still struggle to modernize their IT infrastructure and adopt cloud platforms effectively. Organizations often fail to account for the tremendous complexity involved in migrating data from legacy on-premise systems, leading to time-consuming migration projects that fail to deliver on cost or operational efficiency.

With so many companies burned by past cloud migration efforts, CIOs are challenged to either create a sustainable, scalable cloud migration strategy or find a way to peer through the mess of failed migration initiatives. Learn how to avoid common cloud migration pitfalls and the secrets to successful cloud migration migration planning

Challenge 4: Talent Acquisition and Retention

Another major challenge is the limited talent pool in emerging technology such as artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and data science. According to Gartner’s findings in 2022, IT workers have 10.2% lower intent to stay than other functions and are more inclined to leave the company than other employees. CIOs are challenged to find ways to make their organizations attractive to this talent pool while maintaining attractiveness to current skilled employees. CIOs must be part of the conversation when creating a strong employer brand to ensure the organization’s appeal toward top IT talent.

Some key factors that affect a given company's attractiveness and employees' job satisfaction are:

  • Flexibility: Being a progressive enterprise that empowers employees to determine work schedules and locations that suit them best to help them deliver their best work.
  • Diversity and inclusivity: Bringing together people of different backgrounds and experiences improves a team’s creativity and ability to communicate with a diverse customer base, fostering a more positive work environment.
  • Ways of working: Moving away from solely physical meetings and leveraging new collaboration approaches to maximize current talent's impact, make decision-making more effective, and nurture creativity. 

Challenge 5: IT Budget and Cost Optimization

Strategic cost management is a fundamental focus and ongoing challenge for CIOs. The democratization of digital in business today means that there needs to be robust processes in place to ensure effective acquisition and that IT costs are constantly evaluated and optimized.

The three main approaches to controlling costs are to reduce or divest cost-bearing assets, reducing the usage of cost-bearing products or services, or renegotiating with vendors. The first approach is where Enterprise Architectural insights from Application Portfolio Management and Application Rationalization can bring the most significant benefits.

This cost insight is invaluable for a CIO who needs to make bottom-line decisions about how the IT organization operates and develops. Enterprise Architecture helps combine the accounting standpoint with how projects are actually being executed in the business. It also allows the CIO to assess the ROI of various IT investments and initiatives, demonstrating how they balance innovation with cost-effectiveness.

Learn more about how Enterprise Architecture can help CIOs in reducing IT costs more effectively. 

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Quick Takeaways on the Modern CIO’s Challenges 

  • CIOs are expected to tackle more than just the implementation of technology to help the business execute. 
  • Their responsibilities span from maintaining an effective IT organization to shaping business and technology strategies to help their companies run efficiently and competitively.
  • Some of the key challenges CIOs are grappling with today include cybersecurity and data privacy, digital transformation and innovation, cloud adoption, modernization, talent acquisition, and IT cost optimization. 
  • Equipping themselves with data-driven insights will empower them to make more reliable and confident decisions in many of these areas as an IT leader.
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Deborah Theseira Deborah Theseira Deborah is a Content Specialist at Ardoq. She wields words in the hope of demystifying the complex and ever-evolving world of Enterprise Architecture. She is excited about helping the curious understand the immense potential it has for driving effective change.
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