In a rapidly evolving digital landscape, the role of Chief Information Officers (CIOs) within mid-market companies in the UK is experiencing significant transformations. A recent survey conducted by Acora in April 2023, with insights from 126 decision-makers in UK-based financial services companies, sheds light on these changes. The research primarily aimed to uncover the challenges and adaptations resulting from the shift to a hybrid work model following the pandemic. Here, we delve into the key findings and what they mean for the world of CIOs.
Evolving Role of CIOs
The Acora survey found that 65% of IT leaders believe that the emergence of hybrid working has elevated their roles within their respective organizations. Interestingly, 61% reported taking on additional responsibilities, including direct involvement in due diligence activities. This points towards the dynamic nature of the CIO’s position, which is rapidly expanding to encompass broader business functions.
Focus on Cybersecurity
Undoubtedly, one of the most significant takeaways from the survey is the continued prominence of cybersecurity within organizations. A resounding 67% of respondents listed cybersecurity as their top focus area, highlighting the fact that the “big, scary cybersecurity monster” remains an imminent concern. This is particularly noteworthy, given that previous reports suggested that cybersecurity might not be an immediate priority for CIOs.
Investment in Cybersecurity
While IT budgets are still in focus, there has been a shift in expectations. Approximately 55% of IT leaders anticipate an increase in their budgets for the upcoming year. However, this figure is notably lower than the previous year’s prediction of 77%. Additionally, there is a growing inclination towards working with Managed Service Providers (MSPs), with a staggering 92% of respondents planning to collaborate with them this year. This is likely due to the increasing complexity of cybersecurity challenges, which often require specialized expertise.
Integrated Cybersecurity and IT Operations
The survey also revealed diverse patterns in the management of cybersecurity operations across different organizations:
- 50% of respondents indicated that Cybersecurity Operations and IT operations are managed together as a single in-house department.
- 32% reported that Cybersecurity operations function as a separate, standalone department within their organization.
- 10% have opted to outsource both Cybersecurity and IT operations, which a third-party provider collectively manages.
- 8% have outsourced Cybersecurity operations to a third-party provider that operates separately.
Interestingly, one in five (20%) respondents indicated that cybersecurity operations are not an immediate priority, but they plan to explore it in the future.
Challenges in Outsourcing
For those organizations outsourcing their cybersecurity and IT operations, two significant challenges emerge. Firstly, they must identify a trusted partner with the right capabilities and reputation that aligns with their current business needs and future growth plans. Secondly, they must navigate the complexities of managing multiple third-party providers. Finding a single partner that can address both IT and cybersecurity operations could allow these companies to reap the same benefits as those that manage these functions in-house.
Focus Areas for Cybersecurity
As cybersecurity threats become increasingly sophisticated, organizations are faced with the dilemma of how to best protect their digital assets. While technology tools are undoubtedly helpful, the complexity of these threats often necessitates the involvement of skilled professionals. However, maintaining an in-house team with the required expertise can be both impractical and costly, leading organizations to seek external experts.
Furthermore, the rise of AI adds an additional layer of complexity to the current landscape. IT leaders must take on the responsibility of guiding organizations through the implications and opportunities of AI, as it presents both technological and strategic challenges. As Chief Information Officer Lee Ganly aptly puts it, “AI isn’t ‘difficult’ technically; the challenges are around intellectual property, security, and policy issues. It’s hard to predict where AI will sit in the wider IT landscape, even this time next year. All we can say for certain is it’s going to be a fascinating journey.”
In conclusion, the Acora 2023 CIO report unveils a rapidly changing landscape for CIOs, highlighting the ongoing importance of cybersecurity within organizations. CIOs are adapting to their evolving roles and exploring various strategies, including outsourcing, to effectively address the growing complexity of cybersecurity challenges. As we move forward, the CIO’s journey will indeed continue to be a fascinating one, filled with new technological advancements and strategic opportunities.
About Acora: Acora is an award-winning managed IT and Cyber Security solutions company, providing a range of IT support, cyber security, applications, data, and cloud solutions. The full version of Acora’s 2023 CIO report is available here: https://acora.com/resources/acora-cio-report-2023/?utm_medium=pd-ld-gen&utm_source=proutreach&utm_content=cnt-ind-rpt&utm_term=07-2023&utm_campaign=cio-report-2023