Adobe Survey Reveals How CIOs are Tackling Today’s Digital Megatrends

Moving past the hype and promotion, key digital initiatives are starting to be driven by CIOs, but they are still in the early stages

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As a small number of critical megatrends transform IT and the digital business, IT and business leaders are worried about falling behind and suffering from the resulting competitive weakness. That worry makes having an accurate perspective of where other organizations stand in their deployment of key technologies extremely valuable.

To deliver an accurate perspective on the current utilization of key digital technologies, Adobe recently surveyed more than 200 U.S. CIOs, producing some interesting findings. Among them:

  • AI is still in early days—The survey tells us that while 55% of CIOs believe that AI and machine learning eventually will have the biggest impact on improving customer experience (CX), less than 20% have deployed AI today. Intelligent solutions are expected to be more important than IoT, enhanced voice solutions, and chatbots for improving CX, but there is still a fair amount of work to do before such solutions can really deliver what they promise.
  • CIOs will become focused on improving the customer experience—CIOs are now strategic partners with business units, and as they engage more with marketing teams, their focus on enhancing the CX is increasing. The survey shows that, for most organizations, the COO or CMO is still driving this initiative, but CIOs are now adding it to their agenda. More than half (57%) of CIOs report that improving CX has become a new focus for them in the last 12 months.
  • Cleaning, integrating, and leveraging data is still a challenge—Everyone agrees that a clean, integrated, and real-time data warehouse is essential to personalization and an improved CX. But getting there isn’t easy. Only a third of CIOs say their organization is doing well at this task. And just 15% of organizations are currently leveraging real-time data. However, this will change, since 75% of CIOs are increasing their use of real-time data in 2020.
  • These trends are everyone’s friends—For the last three to four years, the same limited number of megatrends have driven strategy. The CIOs report that the “Big 3” trends—security (82%), cloud migration (68%), and platform modernization (66%)—remain their key focus. Yet we are clearly in the early days of these changes, with CIOs still deploying technologies related to these trends in more “vanilla” ways. Only 25% of CIOs report that they are deploying these technologies in ways that are unique to their business or differentiated from competitors. This is likely to change going forward. Creating unique solutions that deliver competitive advantage will soon become the requirement.
  • Most organizations are digital tweens—Becoming a mature digital business requires many changes and is a long-term process. The CIOs in this survey reinforced the perception that few organizations are digitally mature; only 15% believe they have achieved this level. Looking at specific industries, CIOs in tech companies tend to believe they are more mature, while those in financial services firms rate themselves lower.

In many ways, the findings from this survey of CIOs should be reassuring to business leaders who are worried about being left behind. Most organizations are still early in the process of optimizing critical digital initiatives. Most still haven’t built the unique solutions that deliver competitive advantage. Instead of worrying about falling behind, IT and business leaders should be focusing on moving forward and having plans in place to optimize digital technology.

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