Many disruptive forces such as mobility, BYOD and big data, to name a few, are shaping enterprise technology in today's global market. For CIOs too, life in 2013 is going to get very interesting. Indian CIOs across industries are bracing up for the IT challenges they expect to tackle in 2013. But to ensure acceleration with the ongoing developments, a clear idea of what lies ahead is very vital.
We will keep it simple. Here's what you will need in order to sail through 2013:
1. Beefed-up Security
As the world quickly shifts from mobile to cloud-based IT, security-related challenges will rise simultaneously. This basically means that mobile as well as cloud platforms will be high risk IT infrastructures to handle this year.
Unstructured and unmanaged use of mobile devices within the corporate network--caused due to BYOD--had already raised eyebrows in 2012. Experts across the world have predicted that the New Year will bear fruit for CIOs who will quickly lay down mobile strategies, but only keeping in mind to include a "cross-channel interaction."
But as these unmanaged devices begin to pick up data over the cloud, CIOs will have to begin looking at the critical security breaches that will come their way. "When technologies like mobility and cloud converge, newer opportunities are created. 2013's big challenge will be information security for these newer avenues, and looking for solution compatibility across platforms," says Makarand Sawant, GM-IT Facilities, Deepak Fertilizers and Petrochemicals.
2. A Trustworthy Service Provider
With all that's coming your way, a long-standing partnership with your most important vendors should come in handy. Sawant says that in such situations, self-imposed vendor lock-ins can also turn up beneficial. "At the moment, support for mobility and BYOD are a big cause for worry. We are now looking at asking our service provider for an improved WAN performance to help the situation," informs Sawant. "And our strong vendor relationship will ensure we will not be denied of this service."
Obviously, CIOs who have not been in constant discussion with their strategic vendors have good reasons to worry.
3. The Gut to Face More Budget Cuts
The average IT budget for Indian enterprises in 2012 was Rs 20 crore. But the bitter truth is that budget cuts are coming, and they're coming bad. Thirty-two percent of Indian CIOs in our "State of the CIO Survey" have said that the economic slowdown is the top issue impacting their organizations in 2013. Many enterprises will see very less increase in their IT budgets, and therefore, it's imminent that most CIOs will look at fund cuts again.
Exactly when these cuts occur will, of course, depend on the industry type and its performance through the year. But what will be common across all industries is that this time CIOs cannot get away with the usual budget cuts.
That means the pressure to do more with less is back. However, CIOs like Sanjay Chowdhry, Head-IT at General Cable, are facing the challenge undeterred. He believes that this will only encourage the growth of innovative strategies. "Looking at the flat growth of IT investments, 2013 will be another year of budget cuts and reducing AMC costs. As a CIO, I will feel the pressure of delivering better with the existing IT setup. But we still have a core set of services that we must adhere to," says Chowdhry. "That's where I'm looking for innovative ideas to sprout up. Just like the shared services approach enterprise IT departments adopted.""
4. Preparation to Outsource
According to the "State of the CIO Survey", about 34 percent of Indian CIOs plan to outsource 50 percent and more of their IT in 2013. Many CIOs who want to gain access to world-class capabilities or access to new technologies or services are outsourcing their internal resources to make way. "Our main challenge this year will be to establish a reliable, secure WAN network in small towns to support our expansion plans. We have outsourced our new applications, datacenter and DR to help focus on core business processes," says Dinesh Chandna, Sr. VP and CIO at Magma FinCorp.
However, not all CIOs are excited about outsourcing. For example, General Cable's Chowdhry is looking at some serious internal resource changes. "It will be difficult, but my focus this year will be on scrapping outsourcing, and hiring back IT employees at lesser payout to reduce costs," he says.
5. Competent Resources
For two years in a row, CIOs, in our "State of the CIO Survey", have told us that inadequate in-house skill sets has remained one of the top three challenges they face. As per the survey, about 46 percent of Indian enterprises are expecting their IT headcount to increase.
But with CIOs being pressured to perform better with lesser staff, the rise in demand is only for resources with deep technical skills. "Today, IT turnovers are being scrutinized more closely. And so, we strive to keep our key resources with us, especially when they are constantly being recruited away. Also, we are strongly focusing on rapidly acquiring high quality IT resources with knowledge and experience, for both in-house as well as outsourced purposes," says Chandna.
Shweta Rao is a correspondent for CIO India and ComputerWorld India. Send your feedback to [email protected]