Could digital transformation have overtaken the data/AI-readiness of organizations? 2024 will be the year CIOs play catch-up and patch up…

Immense technological change and the ever-looming threat of a recession are driving businesses to look for new ways to operate more efficiently, while also increasing the customer ‘stickiness’ in 2024.

Enterprises will need to make the most of technology to lower operating costs, maximizing efficiency, and pursue opportunities to grow the customer base.

That is why, IDC researchers expect an increase in AI spending this year across the Asia Pacific. This appetite reflects a fervent desire to push the boundaries of digitalization, and the following trends will likely make a major impression as these efforts grow:

    1. Getting serious about ‘shadow AI’

      Generative AI offers an extraordinary leap forward for employee productivity, but it is also driving the use of tools that do not have the blessing of IT departments. If this sounds familiar it is because where CIOs previously struggled with ‘shadow IT’, today they need to account for unsanctioned AI use by employees. Generative AI also requires significant guardrails, so there is no question of expecting CIOs to give in to unfettered adoption of these tools.

      Nevertheless, that will not stop employees from using tools like ChatGPT and Bard, which have enormous benefits for productivity. CIOs in the region will need to grapple with this and study mitigation measures that are in line with their organization’s risk tolerance. Ultimately, well-intentioned employees will turn to these tools to be more efficient, and CIOs can proactively take charge of the situation to ensure this does not jeopardize the organization.

    2. Levelling up data literacy

      For CIOs to drive enhanced efficiencies and increased productivity, it is imperative that they have a data-first mindset. Simply put, this is because getting the most out of tools like generative AI hinges on having data — which entails good data management practices, including data access, hygiene, and governance.

      Organizations that lack these best practices will find that generative AI is not as productive for them because it does not have accurate and well-managed data to act on. Good data management also improves customer experience, facilitates innovation, and positions the business to capitalize on cost-saving opportunities. Expect CIOs to take the reins to empower organization-wide data literacy in 2024.

    3. Using FinOps to manage cloud spend better

      As businesses migrate more of their digital infrastructure to the cloud, key questions around security, privacy, unauthorized usage, as well as access management, and resource provisioning will continue to dominate.

      Expect this to have a major impact and drive the growth of Financial Operations (FinOps) as a means for businesses to reap the benefits of managed services from cloud service partners. At its core, FinOps is the practice of managing cloud spend by leveraging the inherent variability of cloud use. Essentially, this is akin to turning off the lights at home when no one is using them. Failure to take advantage of this feature is akin to treating a public cloud as a very expensive data center.

      However, variable usage remains a new concept for many IT departments. Typically, technologies, services and infrastructure are always on in the average corporate data center. However, just because IT departments are used to this model, does not mean it should persist.

      With 2024 likely to be a year of opportunities and challenges in equal measure, expect businesses to take advantage of variable usage to enable significant savings.

    4. Storytelling skills by CIOs will need a boost

      Today, CIOs today are integral to corporate strategy. They therefore need to get comfortable opening up to their C-suite peers and wider organizations about their challenges and wins. The reality of the situation is that a strong IT organization is now imperative because new technologies are being deployed on a near-daily basis.

      2024 will see CIOs lean into what they do best: leveraging data and analytics to tell the story of the impact they are having on corporate strategy. This will see CIOs try harder to detail how challenges were addressed through people, processes and/or technology — which will also go a long way to building trusted relationships with colleagues throughout the enterprise.

    5. Getting rid of technical debt

      Development teams sometimes take shortcuts in writing code to achieve their goals faster. However, this can result in technical debt when it accumulates, as it can slow future development and cost more to rectify.

      Combating tech debt starts with robust continuous lifecycle management programs that categorize technology into understandable groups IT can act upon. But reducing tech debt through lifecycle management is useless if more debt is added. That is why a committed enterprise architecture program to help map technologies to business processes sets the foundation for technology standardization. Expect more CIOs to enforce adherence to enterprise architecture target states and technology standards in 2024.

2024 will be a year of significant challenges – but also opportunities, especially for businesses that are quick to the punch and able to withstand disruption. CIOs will be critical to this exercise, as they can make a difference by leading the integration of new, emerging technologies and trends with business strategy.