As we move into a challenging year for businesses, our community of technology leaders and practitioners have been asking what impact technology will have on transformation.

How can you harmonise technology and people? How can organisations truly innovate when faced with budget, resource and security constraints? 

With a focus on people, process and technology, speakers at the Tech Predictions Mini Summit shared strategies and case studies as well as the ways in which they’ve re-evaluated priorities to prepare for the year ahead.

The panel was moderated by Lynda Girvan, head of agile at the CMC Partnership Consultancy, and included Ellen Pengelly, head of business operations & talent and recruitment lead, Imperial College London; Belinda Finch, CIO of Three; Manisha Mistry, COO of R² Factory at Rolls-Royce; Gary Foote, CIO at Haas F1; and Claudia Zieschang, VP, EMEA, marketing at Cohesity.

These were the key takeouts.

True change can only come from taking (calculated) risks 

Organisations wanting to truly transform and become digital-first must first decide the level of risk that they’re willing to take. Traditional structures don’t work today and so change is necessary, but how far leaders are willing to push the boundaries will determine the level of transformation achieved. 

IT is an enabler 

There is no question: IT has presented solutions to mission-critical problems faced by businesses in recent years, but IT is no longer just a means to an end. Through facilitating change, collaboration and creativity,  IT teams are truly enabling digital innovation and transforming businesses. Bringing IT to the forefront is crucial to navigate what’s next on the horizon. 

CIOs must have a spot on the board

The role of the CIO has changed dramatically, but for many, the board doesn’t know it yet. Today, the CIO is tasked with meeting ever-changing communication and collaboration demands (from customers and employees), whilst also ensuring business needs are met and infrastructure is protected. Businesses not big enough to have a CIO still need to recognise and value the role of technology within their organisations. 

Remote teams present huge opportunities – & threats

To retain and attract the best talent, offering flexible and hybrid working is a necessity, but with this comes a greater threat landscape. Companies need to figure out how they can allow employees to use technology to work smarter and solve problems, whilst mitigating risk and protecting company infrastructure and data. 

Senior leaders need to live the change 

In today’s new way of working, those at the top can no longer rest on their years of experience and technical knowledge. Good leadership means leading by example and this is especially true when it comes to hybrid working. Good leaders must also create an inclusive culture which meets inter-generational and diverse needs, whilst also delivering on the commercial aspects. 

Moulding bids farewell to the ‘stiff upper lip’ and fights back

Hiring processes are critical in creating a culture for change 

In order to create a culture of continuous innovation and one which embraces change, you need to bring on board the right people! Companies need to better understand the individual joining your business and ensure your business can meet their optimal ways of working in order to support their transition into your organisation. 

Prioritise, plan then plot a migration course

For organisations looking to invest in digitising systems, deciding where to start and where to prioritise your investment is the first crucial step. Ask yourself where does the value lie currently and what risks are you willing to take? Invest in people and value and then build a centre of excellence of passion and capability. Figure out how you’re measuring success in order to show value and scale.  

Shift left on digital design to embed security from start 

When it comes to digital transformation of core systems, organisations need to think about their software supply chain and shift left. Don’t get too far down the road before you meet your biggest hurdles, which are often security-related. Security has to be one of the first things you consider, as opposed to a bolt-on. 

Threat modelling is key to better intelligence to avoid a cyber attack

While no organisation can achieve 100% visibility to an incoming cyber threat, a business can reduce its impact drastically by using threat modelling tools to map a potential attack and understand how and why they occur. Businesses are still approaching threat intelligence systems as a tick box exercise and need to implement them properly, collecting and using available data to get further insights. Unfortunately, only by experiencing a cyber attack do businesses really analyse how they happened and look at implementing comprehensive threat protection strategies.

Focus on easing pain points to drive workplace tech adoption 

In today’s modern workplace, unified communications and collaboration tools offer the potential to make a massive difference to productivity, but they have to be absolutely bespoke to the business needs and supportive of its culture. Consider the major pain points, for example, when you introduce a new tool, you have to take employees on the journey and invest in the necessary training to explain the benefits and get buy-in. Everyone needs to be aware this is not an overnight fix. It takes time to embed new technology, but ensuring ROI on your investment is crucial.

Shy bairns get nowt (and other leadership lessons from my mum)