Top CIO priorities in 2021 include process transformation and automation

BrandPost By Dwight Davis
May 19, 2021
Technology Industry

IDG views them as key to digital transformation efforts.

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Credit: iStock

IDG’s 2021 State of the CIO survey was conducted in the wake of 2020’s unprecedented business disruptions around the globe. The survey found that – among other impacts – the pandemic cemented the CIO’s strategic business role, as organizations turned to IT solutions to help them weather the huge increase in remote workforces and other associated dislocations.

Of the 812 IT leaders and 250 line of business participants surveyed, 82% said that new technologies, IT strategies, and methodologies formed the core of their organizations’ response to the pandemic.

No surprise, then, that nine out of 10 (92%) of the survey respondents also characterized the CIO role as being more digital and innovation focused, or that 82% identified the CIO as the principal champion of digital transformation efforts.

In practice, CIOs’ transformational efforts included everything from aligning IT initiatives with business goals (cited by 40%) to leading change efforts (29%) to redesigning business processes (23%). Business process redesign – as well as process automation – emerged as a common theme across many of the survey’s categories.

For example, more than one-third (36%) of the survey respondents said transforming existing business processes would be one of the core business initiatives driving IT investments this year. No other business initiative received as many mentions as this investment priority.

Key to driving revenue-generating initiatives

In addition, process redesign and automation were seen as critical components of an increasingly important CIO mandate: driving revenue-generating initiatives. Sixty-eight percent of all IT leaders surveyed – and 85% of those self-identifying as strategic CIOs – said such revenue-focused efforts were now part of their agendas.

The top strategy for generating increased revenue – identified by more than half (56%) of the respondents – was to help create new products and services by automating business or IT processes.

More broadly, automating IT and business processes was flagged as becoming more important over the next six to 12 months by 81% of the respondents. The expected importance of this activity surpassed all others, including mandates to support direct interactions with customers (78%) and to provide executive leadership (61%).

It makes sense that process transformation and automation are seen by IT and line-of-business leaders as both a pervasive need and a promising opportunity. Ultimately, every corporate objective and activity – be it ensuring data and IT security, improving the customer experience, or driving revenue growth – depends on a web of underlying IT and business processes. Ensuring that those foundational processes are as fast and efficient as possible can produce benefits in every sphere of operations.

A recent white paper by Forrester Research, commissioned by robotic process automation (RPA) leader UiPath, examines some of the key ways in which automation and artificial intelligence are impacting the workplace, and will continue to do so. To obtain a copy of this report, go to Reinventing Business Automation – Future of Work.