\u201cWho owns and oversees employee experience and the future of work at your organization\u201d is a question I\u2019ve been asking CIOs and IT leaders a lot of late. The ensuing conversation usually reveals a telling disconnect that CIOs should remedy for the health of their companies.\n\nMost IT leaders pause before responding to this question. Some go on to describe hybrid work plans, which is one aspect of the future of work, but it\u2019s not the complete scope. To align on terminology, I share Gartner\u2019s definition, \u201cThe future of work describes changes in how work will get done over the next decade, influenced by technological, generational, and social shifts,\u201d and then ask them to reconsider this greater scope.\n\nAfter another pause, some will say there isn\u2019t ownership around this agenda. Others say human resources leads the future of work considerations for the enterprise, and department leaders own it for their teams. This may be so, but it isn\u2019t a recipe for ensuring long-term organizational success.\n\nThe CIO as a key driver for the future of work\n\nMany CIOs will say IT is involved in laying the foundation for the future of work at their organizations, but usually in a supporting role. Helping departments with automations is one area where CIOs consider IT to be a driver. Or when a department procures new technology, an implementation requires IT\u2019s assistance, or when integration is needed. \n\nBut taking this kind of butler approach to the organization\u2019s future of work mission and waiting for business drivers can be shortsighted. CIOs should take more of a leadership role, especially when future of work initiatives can be a digital transformation force multiplier.\n\nCIOs have the opportunity to improve their organization\u2019s competitiveness, promote innovation capabilities, and catalyze culture change by driving blue-sky thinking around how technological shifts will transform employee responsibilities and experiences. Here are three technology areas CIOs should focus on.\n\n1. Transform knowledge management with generative AI\n\nChatGPT and other forms of generative AI have generated a storm of consumer interest that is carrying over into the enterprise. Many marketing departments are embracing content generation, image creation, and video editing to scale their workflows, while Microsoft added ChatGPT capabilities to its office suite, and Google is adding generative AI tools across Workspace.\n\n\u201cGenerative AI is reimagining the future of work, from the content we write to the creative we use and how we converse with each other,\u201d says Yishay Carmiel, CEO of Meaning. \u201cWhile early challenges with accuracy and credibility remain a barrier to entry, generative tech is still proving valuable for enterprises producing content and uncovering valuable information quickly and at scale.\u201d\n\nOne area I expect generative AI to impact the future of work significantly is knowledge management and enterprise search experiences. I expect we\u2019ll see the consumerization of search and knowledge management over the next decade, driven by generative and conversational AI capabilities. \n\nToday, most enterprises create, store, and search content across a breadth of tools, including CRMs, CMSes, ecommerce platforms, office suites, and collaboration tools. Employees search for content using primitive keyword search boxes instead of natural language processing and conversational AI capabilities. These capabilities are ripe for transformation, and AI search is a force multiplier when it centralizes information access, addresses tribal knowledge risks, and personalizes employee experiences. \n\n2. Drive self-service capabilities with no-code tech\n\nThe first no-code tools for building web applications became available over two decades ago. Today, most organizations use a mix of low-code and no-code tools to build applications, and many support citizen development performed by non-IT employees.\n\nNo-code isn\u2019t just for developing apps, as many organizations use no-code self-service business intelligence tools such as Power BI and Tableau to enable a data-driven organization and reduce the reliance on operational spreadsheets. There are also no-code data prep, automation, and integration tools used by marketing, operations, and finance teams with staff and skills to implement technology solutions with little or no IT assistance.\n\nCIOs should embrace no-code and citizen development as a key future of work strategy. The reality is that IT is always understaffed, and many people entering the workplace have the sufficient technical acumen to work with no-code technologies.\n\nEmpowering employees with no-code technologies can drive a culture transformation when CIOs drive the initiative and IT provides support services. Instead of IT saying \u201cno\u201d or having staff waiting for IT\u2019s help, departments have technologies to drive their agendas.\n\nWhat does it mean to drive self-service capabilities? CIOs should define a citizen development governance model and govern citizen data science so that no-code apps and dashboards developed today don\u2019t become tomorrow\u2019s technical debt. Disciplines such as identifying requirements, versioning applications, testing functionality, establishing security access roles, documenting releases, reusing capabilities, and defining standards are all important whether an app is developed with code, low-code, or no-code. \n\n3. Accelerate decision-making with hyperautomation and real-time analytics\n\nIf self-service business intelligence and data catalogs helped democratize data, then hyperautomation and real-time analytics will enable CIOs to accelerate smarter decision-making.\n\nLarge enterprises have transformed from batch data processing, where executives review weekly and monthly reports to more real-time analytics. In addition, CIOs have scaled beyond using robotic process automation (RPA) on tasks and workflows and now focus on hyperautomation, the integration of automation, low-code, and machine learning capabilities to enable smarter decision-making.\n\nThese technologies and capabilities are mainstream, and more small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) can no longer afford to be laggards in driving intelligent automation.\n\nTom Sagi, co-founder and CEO of Hourly.io, says, \u201cAs the Federal Reserve continues to increase interest rates, small and medium businesses will continue to look for ways to save money this year. The future of work for SMBs will be driven by their ability to adopt new technologies like automation and real-time analytics and will be a key driver of innovation for SMBs focused on saving time and money.\u201d\n\nHere, opportunities include empowering the finance organization with real-time analytics capabilities or using hyperautomation to improve field operation\u2019s resource scheduling.\n\nBut the key opportunity for CIOs is to use these technologies as building blocks by asking, \u201cHow can we reimagine workflow X by integrating automation, real-time analytics, machine learning, and low-code capabilities?\u201d\n\nCIOs should become drivers of the future of work, starting with blue-sky thinking, implementing radically reinvented workflows, and focusing on employee experiences.