The Top 7 CIO Challenges In 2017

In today’s security landscape, the CIO has a large and important role to fill. They must be aware of and compliant with regulations in their industry, focus on ensuring that the right security controls are in place for the organization and its vendors, and be able to consider the risks and benefits of new business processes.

Becoming aware of some of these specific challenges now sets you up for success in 2017. So here are seven of the top CIO challenges bound to come up regularly the new year.

The Top 7 CIO Challenges In 2017

1. Managing the digital ecosystem.

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Your internal systems need to interoperate with your external systems, services, connections, and channels. For example, what do you do with your data analytics? What about the security and systems around that data? How can you take that information and make informed business decisions? How do you leverage your application-based services? These are questions every CIO needs to take into consideration in the new year.

2. Partnering with other business functions in the organization.

The digital ecosystem enables reach and growth in a company, and it also requires that the CIO bridges the gap between its internal functions and other functions across the company. For example, how can you—as the CIO—partner with the chief marketing officer regarding the ties between social media, customer sentiment, and information technology? Furthermore, how can you partner with the Chief Operating Officer on their Internet of Things (IoT) strategy or the Chief Financial Officer on financial operations to drive a better security position?

3. Creating new ways to make sense of analytics.

Analytics and data visualization are mainstream and have been around for a while—but in 2017, the third CIO challenge will be to look at new ways to deliver value therein with rich analytics from the digital ecosystem. The CIO should consider how to help the business take IoT-connected data and make sense of it, as this will add value to both the business and the customers.

4. Automating processes.

There are a lot of back-office IT functions that can and should be automated, like DevOps, hyperconverged infrastructure, and cybersecurity monitoring and alerting. It’s up to the CIO to figure out how to best automate these processes in a way that will drive the most value. CIOs should be consistently looking for those they work with to add more value to the business, and automation allows individuals to get out of any tedious operational tasks.

5. Communicating risks to the board.

Ten or so years ago, cybersecurity and cyber risk weren’t critical issues discussed in the boardroom. Today, this has changed dramatically. Boards today expect to be updated on the organization’s cybersecurity posture and often require regular updates on the program. If this is something you’re facing for the new year, remember that you’ll need to report on two different types of metrics. Audit and compliance metrics deal with legal or fiduciary requirements like “Are we ISO-27001-compliant?” and “Do we have any outstanding high-risk findings open from our last audit or assessment?” Operational effectiveness metrics are quantitative (backed with actionable data) and take a deep dive into the state of your cybersecurity program. For example, “How quickly can we (or our vendors) identify and respond to incidents?” and “How did we compare to our peers across a certain time span?”

6. Determining new ways to innovate.

CEOs have always demanded innovation in every business function, so this isn’t anything new—but in 2017, CIOs should consider new ways to add value through this innovation. For example, if you, as the CIO, do not have the capacity to innovate, you should consider outsourcing. Additionally, you should consider how other businesses in your space (or those in entirely different industries) are doing things and potentially adopt some of those practices in your business model.

That brings us to our final CIO challenge in 2017: benchmarking.

7. Benchmarking against other organizations for cybersecurity.

We’ve recognized that today’s CIO will need to continue to look at new ways to assess, present, and innovate. But it’s also critical for CIOs to know how their organization is doing in comparison to their peers—which is why being effective at benchmarking will be critical in the new year.

CIOs understand that cost-saving techniques, outsourcing, and the innovation of new business processes may pose new and considerable risks. And if you, as the CIO, don’t have a complete picture of your organization’s security performance compared to your peers, you’re unable to determine if you’re taking on too much risk. For that reason, we consider cybersecurity benchmarking one of the top CIO challenges of 2017—and here are a few reasons why:

  • Your job may be on the line. CIOs are often the first on the chopping block when things go wrong in the cybersecurity space. So as the CIO, you’ll want to know with certainty how your organization’s IT security is performing so you can feel confident in your practices.
  • You have to know that your benchmarking efforts are effective. For example, if you are gathering data on the best practices of your peers and competitors, simply knowing that many of them have a cybersecurity training program for employees isn’t enough. As the CIO, you have to know whether or not this training program actually works. In other words, gathering qualitative information without any hard and fast metrics to back it up is useless.
  • Accuracy in benchmarking is critical. One of the most famous pieces of advice in the cybersecurity field is the oft-quoted “trust, but verify.” If you or your consultant gathers data through interviews and discussion with peers and competitors, you may not have any way to verify that the information you’ve been given is accurate. Your employees, consultants, and peers are only human and are prone to misinformation, misinterpretation, and error.

All of these challenges need to be considered by today’s CIO as they head into the new year. But we recognize the unique criticality of benchmarking—so we’ve taken a closer look at the subject in our latest ebook. Download it today to learn about the different methods of benchmarking you may want to consider and how BitSight Security Ratings can solve some of your benchmarking challenges.