Three CIO Resolutions for 2018

What do a CIO’s New Year’s resolutions look like for 2018? Every CIO I speak to, regardless of where they are on their digital transformation journey, is focused on how to best balance taking advantage of the latest technologies with their foundational keep-the-lights-on duties.

Although resolutions are never a one-size-fits-all affair, they usually focus on getting “better.” The three things that many CIOs I talk to would like to improve on in their organizations are: building a culture of security, moving away from legacy systems, and supporting a changing workplace.

Building a Culture of Security

Younger people who watch “Stranger Things” on Netflix may wonder why the parents portrayed on the show don’t buckle up their children in cars. Unfortunately, that’s the way things were in the early 1980s.

Compare that to requiring employees to authenticate themselves in multiple ways to gain access to the applications they use at work. Multi-factor authentication (MFA) may seem like overkill to those not used to it—just like seatbelts did 35 years ago—but it will become the norm, and I suspect many organizations will look back and wonder why they didn’t implement it sooner. MFA practices, like seatbelts, don’t prevent catastrophe, but they go a long way toward tipping the odds in your favor.

Multi-factor authentication is just one example of how a company can build a workplace culture where security is understood, valued, and practiced every single day. Building a culture of security could also include conducting random phishing exercises to help employees understand—without being punitive—how to avoid inadvertently opening a malicious email; providing policies and education about keeping unattended computers locked; and providing tips for how people can stay aware and diligent in their online lives. Workday’s Chief Trust Officer Josh DeFigueiredo talks more building a culture of security in this video.

Moving Away from Legacy

Many CIOs are still trying to answer the question, “How do I move my legacy environment to a more digital future state?”

It’s more important than ever to move away from legacy in an intelligent, responsible way because the stakes are higher.

There’s no one perfect answer because they need to accomplish this goal while being fiscally responsible and brilliant at the basics. This requires a crucial balancing act between those foundational responsibilities of CIOs and their role as change agents.

Yet it’s more important than ever to move away from legacy in an intelligent, responsible way because the stakes are higher. In the analytics space, smart uses of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are making the gap between early adopters and those taking a wait-and-see approach more dramatic. In the workplace, robotics and automation will bring a paradigm shift in how humans and machines work together to create business value.

In short, it’s becoming increasingly clear that legacy systems that got business done in the last century were not designed to handle these futuristic capabilities.

Supporting Changing Work

Robots scanning shelves at Walmart is one of the more recent and dramatic examples of how automation will change the workplace. At Workday Rising 2017 in Chicago, some of us listening to John Boudreau talk about the impact of automation on jobs initially wondered if we were in the right room—this is usually a topic for our HR counterparts. But then afterwards, when we were all discussing the talk over lunch, the floodgates opened. My peers said that they are often seen as trusted advisers, and they should be able to answer the question, “What’s next after next?”

A collaborative CIO who understands the business will be able to speak to the senior management team about where automation can be a source of competitive advantage. A deep understanding of the future direction of the company can also help CIOs advise on what skills the workforce of the future will need, and can provide input on how to upskill or reskill workers impacted by automation.

In sum, it’s true that change is the only constant, but I’m confident that CIOs who can balance innovation and being brilliant at the basics have a bright year ahead of them.