Today, the fourth industrial revolution is no longer just a concept describing the potential future of technology. This can be seen in the way we work day-to-day, by example. An increasing number of tasks, previously performed by muscle power, have been taken over by automated machines. It seems that the opposable thumbs are no longer proof of evolutionary superiority, as we more often use the other four fingers to press keys or control computers that give orders to machines that are subordinate to us.
The task profile of C-Suite positions has also changed significantly in this new reality. In 2023, having learned from the experience of the pandemic period, CTOs have more tasks facing them than ever before. They are the people responsible for the implementation and development of technology who are now key to their company’s growth. They have a great responsibility – it depends on their flexibility whether companies stay afloat or sink in the times of crisis. To prepare for what the immediate future holds, CTOs need to ask themselves, what challenges they will face in 2023.
Drawing up a digital transformation strategy
What does this mean? According to the generic definition, digital transformation is the integration of modern technology into all areas of a company’s operations. The objective of such a measure is to reduce costs while increasing productivity. However, if you think that the change can wait because your company is currently doing well financially, you are wrong. The time when the vision of necessary transformation was a mere futuristic concept is gone forever. You have to act fast, but in a thoughtful way. This is why developing a digital transformation strategy is a key challenge for CTOs in 2023. The process must be implemented efficiently but discreetly, addressing the following 3 pillars:
- developing the organisational culture, which means ensuring that employees are open to change by educating them and helping to ease their fears. The organisational culture aspect is often neglected, which in turn means that, despite the implementation of seemingly effective solutions, 70% of the digital transformation processes analysed by Harvard Business Review have come to failure;
- changing the business model, that is, adapting it to anticipated changes on the market. On the surface, this is not a task for the CTO, but in fact they play a key role here. Indeed, the business model is not limited to the mere way in which the end product is distributed or sold – it affects all operations in every department of the company. This means identifying how digitalisation is expected to be used internally, but also thinking about how the processes of producing the goods sold can be modernised and accelerated;
- process automation, which is the final stage of implementing digital transformation in a company. At this stage, you already know what needs to be changed; the only thing to do now is to put this knowledge into practice. Process automation can occur, for example, using cloud technologies – at Stackmine, we have experience in migrating operations previously performed locally to AWS.
Care for human resources
Corporations usually contain an HR department to recruit and ensure proper working conditions, while start-ups and small companies look somewhat different. Namely, CTOs are responsible for technical staff, such as software developers or testers.
The challenge in this role is not only to acquire new people through recruitment, but also to ensure that they do not leave once they have gained some experience. You can address this by making the work more… interesting. This means, for example, sending employees on training courses that allow them to develop their knowledge and broaden their horizons, assigning tasks that provide opportunities for development (and therefore are not boring).
The security of confidential information is an extremely serious issue, yet it is often given too little attention. Some businesses only take the plunge when the entire internet has access to the company’s data, and the company itself is portrayed as insecure and untrustworthy. In other words, the issue of protection against cyber attacks is considered when it is already too late, once such a situation has already occurred and caused financial losses.
Therefore, the Chief Technology Officer faces a challenge based on securing the company’s data. Clearly, this is no easy task – cyber criminals are no more than half a step behind us, all it takes is one hesitant move and we will be overtaken by them.
That said, tight and effective procedures can noticeably reduce the risk of data leakage, or at least reduce the damage once the situation has occurred. This is why a CTO should ensure that every employee understands why it is important to comply with top-down rules and should keep them informed of any new risks.
This article began with a reminder of the idea of Industry 4.0, so it is impossible not to mention the concept of Big Data here. Indeed, digital transformation means generating ever-increasing volumes of data with varying importance. Sadly, they are worthless if the company cannot process them into information and acquire knowledge that way.
Thus, the challenge for the CTO here is to implement data filtering systems that ensure data security (not only in the context of a cyber attack, but also potential storage failure and media loss). It is extremely important that you are not fooled into drawing the wrong conclusions – poorly developed algorithms can lead to overlooking some seemingly irrelevant information in the analysis, leading to inappropriate decisions, which will result in a loss of money or market position.
As you can see, the Chief Technology Officer is a very responsible role, as the responsibilities of such a person are extremely broad. Ultimately, of course, each company determines for itself what its CTO is supposed to do – in start-ups, for example, the CTO has a significant influence on the recruitment process, whereas in larger corporations they devote their resources to other activities. Nevertheless, in the era of increasing digitalisation of businesses and the development of AI, working in the position discussed in this text is a great challenge – but also a great adventure.