Gartner challenged CIOs in 2016 to tackle issues in talent, funding and resources as barriers for delivering innovation.  While some of these difficulties still remain an issue for Chief Information Officers today, CIO UK speaks to leading CIOs and digital experts on what they predict will be the biggest concerns for CIOs in 2017. See also: Three challenges for CIOs in 2016)

CIO challenges for 2017: Staying relevant

Speaking at the 2016 CIO Summit, columnist Ian Cox discussed staying relevant remains the biggest challenge for CIOs in 2017.

“There are a lot more people working in technology with a lot of other departments other than IT holding their own technology budgets,” he said. “I think the challenge for CIOs is how they influence the decisions being made outside of their own remits and how they can use their skill sets to make their own decisions stay relevant in the industry.”

According to the 2016 Gartner survey, 22% of CIOs say that having the relevant skill sets remains a barrier to success.  

Cybersecurity, Cloud and IoT remain the top trends companies are adopting or looking to develop for next year, while getting executives to understand the importance of IT is another issue for CIOs to tackle.

Budgetary constraints, management issues and skills shortages remain challenges CIOs must surmount to stay relevant and have influence in industry.  

CIO challenges for 2017: Cybersecurity

In 2016, Three Mobile was part of an infamous data breach putting at risk the personal date of nearly six million customers.

The mobile company saw hackers access Three’s customer upgrade database using their employee login system obtaining information including names, addresses and mobile numbers.

CIOs managing cybersecurity should be aware of the current security risks.

According to the Spiceworks tech career survey, 62% of IT leaders see cybersecurity as a key skill to develop for 2017.

Protecting personal data and securing the business has remained a concern for CIOs annually. Digital leaders need to align with executives in monitoring security and ensuring they are protected from breaches.

As IoT is a growing digital trend with more devices being connected to the web the chance of threats remain a high risk for businesses.

CIOs should implement security strategies including staff training, focus groups and meetings as ways to teach all employees about security safety. Through collaborating with staff members CIOs can help ensure safety in the organisation and help prevent further threats.

CIO challenges for 2017: Diversity

Earlier this year, CIO UK wrote about how Gartner’s 2017 CIO Agenda recognised diversity as a difficulty for CIOs.

Indeed, this challenge has seen only 16% of CIOs who are female make up the 2016 CIO 100.

A key topic of discussion at the 2016 CIO Summit was diversity with Director of Technology and Operations' David Henderson promoting gender equality in STEM roles.

He cited attracting, retaining and building a pipeline for the future as the three key sections for increasing diversity in the workplace.  

Working with groups like The Tech Talent Charts or Women of Silicon Roundabout can help create a wider pool of talent, with 45% of women being more likely to drop out of a STEM career than men due to cultural fit.

CIOs increasing diversity should adopt flexible benefits, remote working and encourage female mentors resulting in a team more creative, open and productive.  

CIO challenges for 2017: Balancing a demanding role and managing stakeholders

CIO managing their workload as well as their teams remains a challenge for executives today.

According to the 2017 Spiceworks career outlook survey, 40% of IT professionals were burnt out in their current role, while 38% of those surveyed were looking to find a better work-life balance.

CIO columnist Matt Ballantine described how CIOs will have to balance a demanding role with business expectations and company stakeholders.

“There are endless demands and in most organisations, there is only going to be a fair amount of resource,” he said. “The hardest bit today is deciding what to do and not what to do where you have to manage expectations and stakeholders in the organisation to be able to do that.

Columnist Ballantine also said having a voice and getting noticed as a Chief Information Officer will help manage the digital leading role.  

“Making sure there is a wide engagement with senior people across an organisation making calls and building relationships rather than the CIO being left in the position of upsetting somebody is the best route to address that.”

Addressing these issues and maintaining a better work-life balance will address skill gaps, retain talent and create company loyalty for supporting CIOs in their executive’s roles for 2017. See also: 7 ways to motivate your IT team after a setback.