What’s in the Budget? 7 Investments for CIOs to Prioritize

I am getting ahead of the curve and sharing with CIO and IT leaders several priority investments they should consider for 2023.

My perspective: Many SMBs and large enterprises have invested in digital transformation for several years. Whether we’re heading for a recession or a correction, leaders must sense the shift in financial winds and refocus their digital transformation visions and roadmaps to reflect how the economy impacts their businesses and industry.

CIO Digital Transformation Budget Priorities by Isaac Sacolick

Identify your business’s digital transformation force multipliers

Digital Trailblazers will seek force multipliers in their digital transformation priorities. Investments in force multipliers have some of the following attributes:

With these attributes in mind, I asked several technology partners to provide insights on 2023 investment priorities. I share their perspective and follow-up with why I believe the investment is a digital transformation force multiplier.

7 Priorities for CIOs

1. Leverage observability data with AIOps

“The biggest trend in AIOps right now is the companies feel they have enough observability data. For the past 10-15 years, they have acquired more tools that give them visibility across their applications, clouds, containers, and legacy environments. Most companies are arriving at a tipping point where they have so much data and don’t look to generate more. They look for tools that allow them to turn that data into something that’s actually actionable and insightful. And we see that a lot of the center of gravity AIOps technologies is moving towards the kind of data analysis, data insight.” – Elik Eizenberg, co-founder and CTO of BigPanda 

* Why AIOps is a force multiplier: AIOps enables IT Ops to support more apps running in hybrid clouds, more frequent deployments, and improve customer and employee experiences.

2. Establish and enrich customer data and analytics

“As companies face the reality of an economic downturn, team leaders will be tasked with doing more with less. While this will be challenging, economic circumstances like this can also provide clarity on which priorities CIOs should be focusing on. Improving operational efficiency is, of course, top of mind for many, but maximizing customer data should also be near the top of the list. In short, creating connected customer experiences should be a top priority for every organization. Having the tech framework in place to break down data silos and give teams a holistic customer 360 that will allow them to market with truly personalized messaging will be the difference between companies thriving or just surviving in today’s economic climate.” - Kazuki Ohta, co-founder & CEO of TreasureData

* Why a CDP is a force multiplier: CDPs establish a centralized view of a customer, their interests, and activities. Product management and DevOps teams use CDPs to improve customer experiences, and they also simplify work for marketers, customer support, and compliance functions.

3. Improve customer and employee collaboration with AI-enabled search

“Employees feel stifled and frustrated as they struggle to track down mission-critical information in today’s increasingly complex hybrid workplace. Intelligent search makes all company knowledge findable from anywhere and delivers a more empowering and rewarding experience by tailoring it to each person’s unique needs at any given moment.” - Nicolas Bordeleau, vice president of products at Coveo

* Why intelligent search is a force multiplier: Retail, ecommerce, and subscription-based media sites can see increased revenue from intelligent search capabilities, and all companies can improve customer support functions and employee productivity.

4. Enhance hybrid working capabilities

“CIOs should prioritize budgeting for tools that make their post-Covid workplace model work. If you choose a hybrid strategy, with different people coming into the office on different days and using different desks, they need the ability not only to book desks but also to have visibility into who’s meeting where and when, so they can connect with teammates. And they need advanced collaboration tools to tie in with remote staff. Periodic analysis of how workplaces are being used is also key for space optimization, real estate needs assessment, and overall post-covid strategy tracking and adjustment.” - Nadir Ali, CEO of Inpixon

* Why hybrid work is a force multiplier: Improving hybrid work is not a single technology or investment but represents a new way of working for many organizations. What worked through accelerated rollouts to support remote work during the pandemic now needs a more thought-out strategy for improving collaboration, including driving more departments to support multidisciplinary teams and agile ways of working.

5. Deliver and manage more ML in production

“Ensure you have enough budget to fully deploy and scale those models in production – including the budget for cloud consumption, MLOps capabilities, support and maintenance, and change management with the business (change in processes required for adoption).” - Nir Kaldero, chief data, analytics, & AI officer at Neoris  

* Why MLOps and Modelops are force multipliers: Many organizations invest in ML but struggle to push models to production and realize the benefits. Organizations can support smarter and faster deployments by adopting MLOps (for data scientists) and ModelOps (for model governance) and establishing a full ML model lifecycle.

6. Increase data security, dataops, and data governance programs

“In 2023, network and data security will continue to be top budget priorities for every CIO, especially as the explosion of VPN usage opens new threat vectors. IP address intelligence data provides the context security teams need to mitigate risks, such as identifying whether inbound or outbound traffic is tied to a VPN, proxy, or a darknet, whether it’s residential or commercial traffic, as well as the VPN provider’s name and URL. CIOs will invest in and prioritize access to IP address insights so that they can gain context around a break in and set proactive rules as to who can access a network, who should be flagged for additional authentication, and who should be blocked automatically.” - Jonathan Tomek, VP of research and development, Digital Element

* Why data management tech and practices are force multipliers: While many CIOs, CDOs, and chief data scientists focus on delivering data visualizations, machine learning models, citizen data science, and other analytics, there’s been a lag in corresponding investments in data security, dataops, and proactive data governance.

7. Invest in your people and talent development

“It’s less about the technologies but more on the talent and people side. It would help if you were ready to acquire or develop talents such as gaming engineers, VR/AR designers, and data engineers. These key profiles will help you create, power, and grow your metaverse presence for your company.” - Nir Kaldero, chief data, analytics, & AI officer at Neoris

* Why investing in talent development is a force multiplier: You don’t realize the benefits of digital transformation investments without a successful transformation to new business models, improved customer experiences, and leveraging data/analytics to strategic advantages. As I share in Chapter 10 of my book, Digital Trailblazer, getting early adopters onboard is relatively easy compared to middle-late adopters and detractors. Establishing a learning culture and developing centers of excellence are the keys to transforming the culture.


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About Isaac Sacolick

Isaac Sacolick is President of StarCIO, a technology leadership company that guides organizations on building digital transformation core competencies. He is the author of Digital Trailblazer and the Amazon bestseller Driving Digital and speaks about agile planning, devops, data science, product management, and other digital transformation best practices. Sacolick is a recognized top social CIO, a digital transformation influencer, and has over 900 articles published at InfoWorld, CIO.com, his blog Social, Agile, and Transformation, and other sites. You can find him sharing new insights @NYIke on Twitter, his Driving Digital Standup YouTube channel, or during the Coffee with Digital Trailblazers.