This guest blog was contributed by Alex Hoff, Chief Strategy Officer, Auvik
Despite ongoing warnings of an economic slowdown and potential recession, worldwide IT spending remains on track to reach $4.6 trillion in 2023, up 5.5% from 2022, according to a recent Gartner forecast. Gartner analysts emphasized that macroeconomic headwinds do not appear to be slowing down spending on digital transformation projects, as all regions worldwide are projected to show positive IT spending growth in 2023.
Yet we know that the global economy remains volatile, and what goes up must come down. In this choppy climate, CISOs and CIOs can prepare their businesses for any potential economic outcomes by applying a “future-proof” approach to their strategies.
The concept of future-proofing a business is to prepare it for any eventuality. Such preparation involves implementing programs that mitigate worst-case scenarios, while being ready to pivot and take advantage of emerging growth opportunities. A strategic business is adaptive and ready for whatever economic or market changes may occur.
Such long-term resilience requires careful planning, effective processes, the best tools, and an ability to rapidly update systems and integrate new technologies over time. A future-proofed organization can perform nearly any business function remotely, and it remains focused on ensuring user security while continually adding customer value.
However, future-proofing a business requires IT leaders to take a hard look at their past missteps and evaluate their present systems in order to prepare for what comes next. Below are three key areas to focus on for future-proofing your business.
Prioritizing Cybersecurity: The widespread uptake of new artificial intelligence tools into software applications and business processes has introduced a fresh wave of concern about escalating cyber threats. Hackers are quickly adopting AI chatbots to automate their phishing attacks and data thefts, creating new levels of vulnerability for unprepared organizations. In addition to implementing modern security tools and platforms that incorporate AI, effective security strategies must also include human training sessions and education programs to keep users and clients safe online. Social engineering and human errors have been shown to be the root cause of 88% of data breaches, according to a study by Stanford University and security firm Tessian.
Supporting Remote and Hybrid Work: Providing services to hybrid and remote workers has become an essential role for IT in the post-pandemic world, with most employees no longer being tethered to an office. Support for the remote workforce requires robust network bandwidth and cybersecurity protections, even at coffee shops with spotty Wi-Fi connectivity. Future-proofing also requires having strong security protocols on all employee mobile devices, computers, and networks – but the challenge of maintaining personal devices without having physical access to them can pose a real security threat. Employees who download malware by mistake can put the entire company at risk when they log onto a network, making it mission-critical for CISOs and CIOs to secure all digital assets and devices at the network edge.
Addressing the Tech Talent Shortage: The tech industry continues to struggle with a shortage of qualified IT employees, as 86% of CIOs say they face increasing competition to attract qualified candidates today, according to a recent Gartner survey. Without having the right people in place, it can be a challenge to scale up services to meet growing client demands. A talent shortage can also reduce the quality of services and limit the ability to keep pace with ongoing tech advances. To address this problem, IT leaders should consider recruiting more non-traditional candidates and passive job seekers, rather than sticking to standard IT hiring plans that are designed to target active job seekers and new computer science graduates. The solution involves casting a wider net to find a larger pool of job candidates, and offering them more on-the-job training to bring them up to speed.
Future-proofing a business requires a steady attention to detail and a willingness to learn from failure. Technology investments are crucial to maintain an ability to adapt to fast-changing market demands, just as process improvements are needed to increase efficiency and hold down costs. People are an equally integral part of the future-proofing equation. It is more essential now than ever to seek new candidates from non-traditional backgrounds, and to increase mentorships and cross-trainings to continually upskill the entire workforce.
Future-proofing depends on putting a durable survival strategy in place to weather any downturns, combined with a comprehensive growth plan to capitalize on any economic rebounds. We know the roiling economy continues to be a source of uncertainty, but our approach to dealing with it doesn’t have to be.