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Navigating 2024: CIO Perspectives on Budgets, Priorities and Advice for the Year Ahead

Doing more with less.
H. Michael Burgett
Contributing Writer

With 2023 drawing to a close, technology leaders have their sights set on 2024 planning. What initiatives and investments should take priority? How will economic volatility impact budgets?

What is the evolving role of the CIO in these storied times?

These questions were explored in a recent CIO Roundtable discussion hosted by the CIO Professional Network (CION) and sponsored by The National CIO Review (TNCR). The conversational, peer to peer forum provided candid insights from technology leaders across industries including healthcare, non-profit, legal, manufacturing and more.

The discussion, rich with executive-level perspectives, offers a glimpse into the strategic thinking that will shape IT priorities and budgets in 2024.

Budgets on the Rise Amid Economic Uncertainty

Despite an uncertain economic climate, a majority of technology leaders anticipate an increase in their tech budgets for 2024. This aligns with findings from Forrester’s 2023 Budget Planning Survey, which reported that 84% of technology leaders expect an uptick in their 2024 tech budgets, a notable jump from 66% the previous year.

The areas poised for the most significant investment include data science, analytics, IT/security, and AI.

An informal poll conducted during the roundtable mirrored these findings, with approximately 70% of participants expecting their IT spend to increase. This optimism is a testament to the critical role technology plays in driving business value, even when economic signals are mixed.

Strategic Priorities: Security, AI, and Talent

The conversation at the roundtable highlighted several key areas of focus for CIOs:

Cybersecurity: With digital threats evolving, cybersecurity remains a top priority. Investments in this area are crucial, even as some CISOs report potential budget cuts. The need for robust security measures is non-negotiable, given the high stakes involved in protecting organizational data.

Artificial Intelligence (AI): AI continues to be a significant area for increased budget allocation. Organizations are seeking partnerships and external expertise to fill in-house skill gaps, indicating a trend towards collaborative innovation in AI.

Human Capital: The discussion also underscored the importance of human capital. Budgets may be increasing, but the allocation is shifting. There’s a nuanced approach where investments in technology are balanced with the need for skilled personnel to manage and leverage these tools effectively.

Doing More with Less: A Recurring Theme

A recurring theme among the technology thought-leaders was the need to do more with less. Many organizations are looking to increase efficiency and productivity without proportionally expanding their workforce.

This serves as a clarion call for strategic investments in automation and process optimization.

Advice for the Year Ahead

As CIOs navigate 2024, CION members offered several pieces of advice:

Embrace Flexibility: In an unpredictable economy, flexibility in budgeting and strategic planning is vital. CIOs should be prepared to adjust their strategies as new information and circumstances arise.

Prioritize Value Creation: Investments should be directed towards initiatives that create customer value. This means prioritizing projects that enhance customer experiences and drive revenue growth.

Cut Inefficient Complexity: Simplification is key. CIOs should look to streamline operations and reduce complexity where possible, freeing up resources for more impactful initiatives.

Experiment Aggressively: Innovation requires a willingness to experiment. CIOs should allocate a portion of their budget to explore new technologies and approaches, even if the outcomes are uncertain.

The Wrap

The CIO Professional Network Annual Strategic Planning Roundtable revealed that CIOs are cautiously optimistic, with a clear focus on enhancing security, leveraging AI, and optimizing human capital.

As technology leaders finalize strategic plans for the upcoming year, the advice is clear: be flexible, prioritize value, simplify, and innovate.

By following these axioms, CIOs can position their organizations to navigate the complexities of 2024 successfully and emerge stronger in the face of any economic and technological challenges that lie ahead.

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