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Tech predictions: 2019 will be the year of the CIO

Simnikiwe Mzekandaba
By Simnikiwe Mzekandaba, IT in government editor
Johannesburg, 27 Nov 2018
Forrester Research expects 25% of CIOs will expand their roles and responsibilities in 2019.
Forrester Research expects 25% of CIOs will expand their roles and responsibilities in 2019.

In 2019, 25% of CIOs will expand their roles and responsibilities, while the rest will be relegated to other organisations. This is according to Forrester Research, which expects to see top-performing firms search for new CIOs next year.

The firm's annual report analyses what is on the horizon in areas critical to business success and competitiveness.

Forrester believes 2019 represents a year when strategic ambitions will translate to pragmatic efforts.

In regards to the CIO role, the report says 2019 is the year when the executive in charge of the organisation's IT strategy takes the reins.

The market research company points out the CIO sits at the centre of a storm in terms of addressing aging systems and long-standing data issues, driving a business strategy that harnesses the value of a wide range of new technologies, and maximising the value and security of today's environment.

However, Forrester argues the issue is not strictly about the size, scope, or complexity of the CIO's job but rather the diversity and interdependency of the mandate that make this hard.

"In 2019, more CEOs and CIOs will come to terms with the scope and interdependence of this mandate and the criticality of its success to the very destiny of their companies. They will agree that one executive, the CIO, will lead and orchestrate this vital effort. CIOs will spend the time to build their leadership teams, empowering trusted operators to handle much of the day-to-day.

"Arguably the most important outcome of 2019 is that leading CIOs will build a model that translates tech-led innovation into customer value."

Forrester's list of technology predictions for the year ahead include:

Lowered digital expectations

According to the report, 25% of firms will decelerate digital efforts altogether and lose market share in 2019. Forrester highlights that while organisations' digital transformation strategies have always been painted as hopeful, what's usually missing are the sceptical faces from the board, CEO and CFO.

As a result, 2018 was the year when reality chewed up transformational ideal.

"In 2019, digital transformation moves from super-wide enterprise efforts to a pragmatic, surgical portfolio view of digital investments with the goal of making incremental and necessary changes to operations. Tangible efforts, such as shifting customers to lower-cost digital channels, launching digital products, monetising data assets, and automating processes to improve margins, will come to the fore.

"15% of firms will successfully cross the digital bridge by embracing a fundamentally customer-driven, agile delivery model backed with modern development and architecture."

AI's true promise

In 2019, robotic process automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence (AI) will join forces to create digital workers for more than 40% of enterprises, predicts Forrester.

According to the firm, AI is transformative and a change agent to future operations, but in 2018 many factors held it back. Some of the barriers noted are that AI had insufficient information architecture, was too horizontal and too confusing.

Next year will be different, says Forrester. "Firms will put more potent building blocks in place to accelerate their ability to meet artificial intelligence's extraordinary promise.

"Those barriers describe how AI will play out in 2019, when companies will claw their way out of data debt, to some extent because of GDPR and escalating security concerns. Combined with intelligent tools that move data governance to a more ambient and contextual state, most firms will turn the corner on data governance thanks to AI.

"Firms will also expand RPA and proof of concept to broaden the process, product, or experience scope and better understand the impact of AI. RPA and AI technology innovations will combine to create business value while serving as a test bed for broader implementations of AI."

In its top 10 strategic technology trends for 2019, Gartner also highlighted the impact AI will have over the coming year.

The global research and advisory firm expects that by 2022, at least 40% of new application development projects will have AI co-developers on their teams.

Automation answer to lack of talent

25% of leaders will use automation to address the shortage of talent, according to the Forrester report.

"In 2019, savvy talent leaders will use automation to address the talent scarcity squeeze, giving up on waiting for expertise and instead hiring for good and building to great, using automation to free up time, headspace, and funds to develop the needed expertise.

"Forrester predicts 7% of jobs that can be automated will be lost to automation. But the larger, and perhaps sleeper, issue is talent scarcity: the ability to harness the power of robots and the need to address skill shortages across the board that are acute in different regions."

Blockchain boosts supply chain

Forrester expects that by the end of 2019, more than 50% of the top 100 advertisers will use blockchain for supply chain transparency.

The firm points out that advertising is in a crisis of spend and trust, estimating that dollars wasted on invalid impressions will grow to $10.9 billion by 2021. "Lack of transparency, hidden fees, exorbitant margins, and, ultimately, poor performance came to a head last year, with major brands cutting millions from their digital ad budgets."

In 2019, blockchain will chip away at digital advertising's opacity problem, reveals the report. "Large brands are in blockchain pilot programmes now; by the end of 2019, they will have a better understanding of where waste and abuse lie and how their money is spent."

Based on Gartner's estimates, blockchain will create $3.1 trillion in business value by 2030.

IOT uptake

Over the years, research firms have noted the potential of the Internet of things (IOT) to enable new revenue streams and business models.

True to testament, the Forrester report reveals 85% of firms will implement or plan to implement IOT solutions in 2019.

Based on Forrester's analysis, there are considerable hurdles in consumer adoption of IOT-enabled products, but the same can't be said about industry. There is clear adoption of IOT solutions in the industrial manufacturing, healthcare, retail and utilities markets.

"B2B applications of the technology are set to take off in 2019. The business case is too obvious and positive. B2B IOT will take a play from the mobile rollouts in 2000 that went beyond the buzz of what was possible, focusing on field assets, distributed management, and remote command and control.

"In that same way, B2B IOT will focus on driving efficiencies, connecting the enterprise, expanding the edge, and, in some cases, providing personalised customer experiences."