Many medium to large-scale businesses have dedicated Chief Information Officers, or CIOs for short. These individuals are typically in charge of technical processes related to IT and managing data flow and storage. Smaller organizations may also have an individual in charge of these areas, but it may not be their first or only priority.
In recent times, CIOs have faced many challenges. These hardships are generally driven by a power struggle, not between people, but rather around responsibilities. Do they manage traditional IT functions like hardware fixes and software updates or do they drive the transformation of technology in the workplace to remain efficient and competitive? With cyber risks at an all-time high and customers being as demanding as ever, finding a balance between IT function and digital transformation are critical to becoming a forward-thinking organization.
We know that the role of a traditional CIO is changing, and understanding where your responsibilities lie can keep you up at night! In this article, we will look at some of the top challenges facing today's CIOs and what you can do to initiate potential solutions.
Achieving HIPAA Compliance
A top challenge of IT, one of many faced by CIOs, and especially those with an organization that handles personal health information (PHI), is remaining HIPAA compliant. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) sets a national standard for protecting PHI. It sets guidelines for the storage and sharing of data, among other protocols. Failure to comply can result in a damaged reputation, hefty fines, and even jail time for corporate officers. Needless to say, ensuring PHI is secure is of the utmost importance.
While high-level executives hope that the organization is HIPAA compliant, it is the job of the CIO and their team to figure out how to make that happen. With strict rules and nifty cyber criminals, remaining HIPAA compliant can be an "always on" task.
Ensuring you use secure cloud software to store and share data is an excellent first step. Choosing a provider that automates backups, software updates, and risk notifications is a convenient bonus. Being able to lock and control data remotely can also be a huge benefit when danger strikes while offsite.
With features like data encryption, onsite and offsite backups, security risk assessments, access controls, and more, Giva's HIPAA-Compliant Cloud Help Desk Software can be the backbone of your compliance plan. Learn more and start a free trial today.
Managing Remote Workers and Hybrid Work Spaces
The IT challenges do not stop at compliance. Managing a diverse workforce can also throw a wrench into smooth operations. Post COVID-19, workforces have varied greatly. What do we mean by this? Well, some are onsite, some are offsite, while others operate a hybrid of both. According to data collected by GALLUP, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, few remote-capable employees worked from home. At that time, this group accounted for just 8% of the workforce. Today, approximately half of the full-time U.S. workforce (roughly 60 million people), claim that their current jobs can be done entirely from home or in a hybrid setting. This arrangement, while convenient for the average employee, can present significant challenges for IT teams that must manage tech setup and the risks of data flowing across unsecured networks (e.g. Free WiFi at your local coffee shop).
Besides varied work locations, and cybersecurity threats, ensuring your team has the "right" tools in place can also be challenging. This is especially true in a world where tech seems to change by the day! Ensuring your team has tools for video, text, email, and collaboration is critical in today's hybrid environment. Programs like Microsoft Teams and ZOOM provide all-in-one, audio-visual solutions that can streamline your offering and continue efficient workflow, regardless of where an employee might be (as long as there is a WiFi connection).
Curbing Cybersecurity Threats
Technology is changing rapidly. Organizations must embrace these changes to remain efficient and competitive in their respective markets. While new technology is good for personal and business use, it also brings new and complicated cybersecurity threats. These are the types of issues that can keep CIOs up at night.
If you are wondering - what do CIOs care about? One of the top cybersecurity threats faced by organizations in the past year continues to be phishing. According to SlashNext and their report titled, The State of Phishing, over six months up to the end of October 2022, there were more than 255 million phishing attacks, representing a whopping 61% increase over 2021. The act of phishing itself involves the sending of emails that appear to be legitimate, but in reality are fake, usually leading naive employees to click on malicious links and attachments. In some cases, employees may receive emails that seem to come from the organization's CEO, asking for a "favor." As an employee, it is best to verify the email address is consistent with that of the individual emailing you. Another good practice is to hover over buttons and links to analyze that it is driving to a recognizable location.
What can you do as a CIO? These issues are worrisome to CIOs because they have little control over employees' actions in these scenarios. They are often left to deal with the aftermath. Hosting regular educational training sessions for employees is a great first step. Sending out "dummy" phishing emails, recording who clicks, and providing extra training to these individuals can also be useful. Investing in technology to scan incoming emails and attachments can also be a great way to alleviate stress and disaster for CIOs and the overall organization.
Supply Chain Disruptions
One of the top CIO trend issues of today is supply chain disruptions. What began following COVID-19 lockdowns around the globe, supply chain disruptions have affected almost all industries to some extent. Local pharmacies are short on medication, and home builders are short on supplies like lumber and garage doors. This is caused by a chain reaction of events that follows a flow similar to this:
- A quick drop in demand: We can associate this with the initial wave of COVID-19 in March and April of 2020. Since many people remained home, there was lower demand for goods and services.
- A surge in demand: When the economy opened back up, there was subsequent demand for goods and services. Who remembers the worldwide rush to purchase toilet paper?
- Reduced production: Production slowed due to COVID-19 workforce layoffs, safety measures, and lower demand overall.
- Operational shutdowns: Whether natural disasters or a COVID-19 outbreak, many producers periodically shut down their operations.
- Raw material shortages: As it relates to China, they have experienced issues with procuring raw materials. Whether it be cotton or memory chips for Apple's iPhone, there have been several recent instances where raw material shortages have caused product delays.
When it comes to IT at your organization, one of the top issues continues to be the delay of critical tech components, specifically chip shortages for laptops and smartphones. Through NETWORKWORLD, Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger says that he expects chip shortages to continue into 2024. The root cause of these delays is a lack of manufacturing equipment and the availability of tools. These shortages make it more difficult for organizations to procure the equipment needed to make their employees efficient and their organizations competitive.
Increasing demand for CX
The demand for customer experience (CX) has been increasing in recent years as more organizations recognize the importance of providing a positive customer experience. This trend is being driven by several factors, including the rise of social media and the increasing influence of online reviews, the proliferation of choice for consumers, and the growing importance of customer loyalty in an increasingly competitive business environment. As a result, companies are investing more in CX initiatives and are looking for ways to improve the customer experience at every touchpoint in the customer journey.
The role of a CIO could involve the implementation of customer relationship management (CRM) systems to handle customer interactions, using data analytics to gain insights into customer behaviors, and implementing self-service technologies to make it easier for customers to get the information they need. The CIO can also work with other departments, such as marketing and sales, to ensure that the company's technology effectively supports CX initiatives.
For most medium to large organizations, it has become almost unacceptable to solely offer telephone and email support. Customers want to get a hold of you and get a resolution to their problems as soon as possible. The introduction of chatbots and other self-help tools, as well as the evolution of omni-channel customer service platforms can assist you in meeting the demands of today's customer.
Implementing Automation of Processes
Implementing automated processes at an organization is one of the top CIO trends, however, it can also be challenging for a number of reasons. Here are a few:
- Cost: Automating processes often requires the purchase of new software or equipment, which can be expensive and outside of available budgets
- Training: Employees may need to be trained on how to use the new software or equipment, which can take time and resources
- Change management: Introducing automation may require changes to existing processes and workflows, which can be difficult for some employees to adjust to. This can cause temporary downtime at an organization
- Integration: Automated processes may need to be integrated with existing systems and processes, which can be complex or perhaps, impossible
- Maintenance: Automated systems and equipment may require regular maintenance and updates, which can be a strain on team capacity
Overall, the challenges of implementing automation will depend on the specific organization and the processes being automated. It can be a complex and time-consuming process, but it can also bring significant benefits in terms of efficiency, accuracy, and cost savings. In today's market, implementing artificial intelligence technology is almost a necessity to remain competitive.