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New year, new you: 5 data resolutions to help CIOs create a game-changing IT department

IT
(Image credit: Shutterstock / carlos castilla)

We did it, we made it through 2020 and all that it entailed, but now it’s 2021 and it’s time to sort out how your business wishes to use data over the year ahead. So we’ve created a list of new year resolutions that we think IT leaders should adopt (if they don’t already) to make 2021 and beyond an easier and more effective time to manage your data.

Over the past twelve months, IT teams have operated under extreme conditions. They’ve had to deal with reduced teams and tech budgets, enabling staff to work from home, fast-changing organisational priorities, and increased threats in terms of business continuity and information security.

About the author

Ezat Dayeh is SE manager UK&I at Cohesity

Clear objectives from the business

Technology is still often implemented in isolation. Rather than being purchased to achieve set aims, IT is bought as a solution looking for a problem. Yet 2020 has seen a step change; IT is now seen as a problem solver. Digitisation helped companies deal with the challenges of coronavirus and now the business wants more from its tech.

With IT budgets still under downward pressure, CIOs and IT teams need direction from their business peers. They need to work in unison to create strongly-defined use cases. With data-led emerging tech, like artificial intelligence and machine learning, moving from the laboratory to the enterprise, that requirement has never been more pressing.

The good news is that CIOs and their IT teams will have spent much of the past 12 months engaging closely with their business peers to ensure that their technology demands are met. Now they must create a clear long-term digital strategy that puts the business first.

More commitment to the cloud

The past 12 months have almost been like a giant beta-test for the cloud. At a moment’s notice, companies had pressures to switch to home working, deliver real-time collaboration and online fulfilment. It was a test that the cloud passed with flying colours, but not everyone made the jump. If that’s you, 2021 could be the year.

For those that did make the jump to the cloud, your task in 2021 is to make even more use of the cloud, looking at what additional benefits you can get from this new delivery. Global spending on public cloud services is forecast to grow 18.4% next year to total $304.9 billion, up from $257.5 billion in 2020, according to Gartner. The analyst says companies have more IT to do and less money to do it, so they will spend on areas such as the cloud to help accelerate digital business.

Some fundamental elements of legacy IT remain in incumbent businesses of all sizes. If CIOs and their tech teams want to help their businesses change directly quickly, then they will need a cloud-first approach that allows the organisation to move with flexibility. Migration away from legacy IT has been discussed for years, 2021 is the year to make good on having that plan.

Agile development methodologies

Moving quickly, however, isn’t just about implementing the right technology. Without a people-centred information strategy that allows employees to exploit new opportunities collaboratively, then the promises of big data will go unfulfilled. 

That’s where Agile development methodologies come in. Unlike traditional Waterfall approaches, which use a linear approach to task completion, Agile methods rely on iterative collaboration. While these techniques started in the IT department, Agile techniques have moved out of the data centre and out across all lines of business.

Smart companies use Agile techniques to bring in various stakeholders to explore how a business aim can be reached collaboratively. By working together, cross-organisation teams can take small, iterative steps towards fulfilling data-led business aims in 2021.

Effective data management

Even if you’re moving towards completing business aims in an Agile manner, there’s still one area where your organisation can come unstuck: poor data management. It’s only possible to act on data if the information your business collects is consistent, accurate and secure.

Gartner says CIOs and their IT teams must as a matter of urgency prioritise spending on data management through 2021. The central role of data in the business is only going to increase, as companies rely on key performance indicators to ensure their organisation is making moves into the right market areas.

Your business will need to break down the traditional walls that define it. Rather than holding information in silos, CIOs will need to consolidate information so that decision-makers can make informed and intelligent choices. It will also likely see your storage costs drop, as removing deduplication frees up server space or cloud spend, and enables you to deliver file shares, which enhance security and limit the attack surface of your corporate data.

Great account management

From the cloud through to data management, organisations needs to rely on the external partners they selects. Building trust is not necessarily straightforward, as CIOs have to use an ecosystem of IT providers with different capabilities for specific areas of provision.

With the business likely to up its demands for digital transformation through 2021, IT departments need partners that can deliver on their operational promises. For IT teams, you need to enquire and select vendors that offer the highest possible level of account management. With IT budgets likely to remain constrained, tech teams need trusted account managers that can work to help them deliver data-led digital transformation plans, not those that just offer a good margin. Over the past few years the relationship between a systems integrator or reseller and a customer has gotten much tighter, with greater understanding shown. This will continue to be the way forward, as needs become more unique based on the challenges of a particular organisation.

The next 12 months are going to involve building on some of the lessons learnt through 2020 and undoubtedly a host of new challenges. IT leaders have weathered the storm of 2020, its now about how they can ride the wave and not just survive, but accomplish goals and deliver more return to the wider business.