Many CIOs will face a challenging year grappling with growing pressure from transformation initiatives, weekly layoff announcements, and the prospect of a recession.\n\nWhile digital initiatives and talent are the board directors\u2019 top strategic business priorities in 2023-2024, IT spending is forecasted to grow by only 2.4% in 2023. Tech companies have laid off over 250 thousand employees since 2022, and 93% of CEOs report preparing for a US recession over the next 12 to 18 months.\n\nThe message to CIOs is to do more with less, and the implication is that CIOs must look at digital transformation initiatives differently than in years past.\n\nSpeed of delivery was the primary objective during the years leading into the pandemic, and CIOs looked to improve customer experiences and establish real-time analytics capabilities. During the pandemic, speed remained a priority as CIO shifted to automate workflows and improve employee experiences.\n\nBut 2023 is shaping up to be paradoxical, and after speaking to hundreds of CIOs over the past couple of years, I have been advising them to seek force multipliers in their digital transformation initiatives.\n\nWhat are force-multiplying initiatives?\n\nForce-multiplying digital transformation initiatives aim to accomplish multiple strategic objectives through a single vision and investment. Examples are initiatives to improve both customer and employee experiences or others that deliver a combination of innovation and security enhancements.\n\nHere\u2019s an example of a non-multiplying initiative; a sequential phased delivery familiar to CIOs. Some IT organizations elected to lift and shift apps to the cloud and get out of the data center faster, hoping that a second phase of funding for modernization would come. But the faster transition often caused underperforming apps, greater security risks, higher costs, and fewer business outcomes, forcing IT to address these issues before starting app modernizations. A force-multiplying approach would consider several objectives and recognize that a speedy cloud transition may cause a longer, more expensive transformation.\n\nSo what should CIOs look to do today to drive digital transformation, identify force multipliers, and define initiatives that enable smarter, safer, and faster business outcomes? I\u2019ll be covering more examples of force multipliers in upcoming articles, and here are three to start that should apply to most CIOs and their IT organizations.\n\nAgile for hybrid teams optimizing low-code experiences\n\nThe agile manifesto is now 22 years old and was written when IT departments struggled with waterfall project plans that often failed to complete, let alone deliver business outcomes. Today, many CIOs must determine which agile tools to use and where to create practice standards.\n\nAssemble a team of Scrum coaches, and they\u2019re likely to debate how much empowerment self-organizing teams require, when to estimate user stories, and whether sprints remain relevant when devops teams are automating deployments with CI\/CD.\n\nWhile many organizations are successful with agile and Scrum, and I believe agile experimentation is the cornerstone of driving digital transformation, there isn\u2019t a one-size-fits-all approach. The organization\u2019s size, types of programs, compliance requirements, and cultural readiness are just a few of the key variables requiring consideration.\n\nSeveral overlooked variables can help propel agile practices as digital transformation force multipliers.\n\nThe key for CIOs is finding their organization\u2019s agile way of working and aligning it with other efforts that expand technology capabilities beyond the IT department.\n\nAlign data science and data governance programs\n\nRemember when infosec was brought in at the end of the application development process and had little time and opportunity to address issues? Devops teams now look to shift left security and implement continuous testing to develop more innovative, secure, and reliable features from the start.\n\nThere are similar concerns for CIOs looking to build data and analytics capabilities.\n\nIn pursuing a data-driven organization, CIOs will likely have centralized data scientist teams developing machine learning models, data analysts using self-service business intelligence tools, and a myriad of spreadsheets still used in operating functions. Then, often reporting to risk, compliance, or security organizations, are separate data governance teams focused on data security, privacy, and quality.\n\nCIOs seeking a force multiplier will merge dataops, data science, and data governance initiatives by creating multidisciplinary agile data teams and aligning on business objectives.\n\nHere are some force-multiplying differences achievable by agile data teams:\n\nAchieving the data visualization or building an ML model without applying data governance best practices introduces risks and grows technical and data debt.\n\nAIops that improves performance on more apps\n\nOne study reports that global custom software development will reach $85.9 billion by 2028, rising at a market growth of 20.3% CAGR.\n\nI can\u2019t imagine IT operations teams will keep up with this growth while increasing app reliability, performance, and security without using automation and machine learning capabilities. AIops platforms that centralize observability data, correlate monitoring alerts, and enable automated response can be a digital transformation force multiplier for enterprises with too many apps and too few people in the network operations center (NOC) responding to incidents.\n\nThese are three of my example force multipliers that every organization driving digital transformation should consider. The pressure to do more with less, drive faster and smarter business outcomes, and enable safer innovations won\u2019t let up anytime soon.