CIOs must prepare for the fourth industrial revolution

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Hot on the heels of the release of Chat GPT-4o and the Google IO conference where lots of AI tools were on show, a recent study has shown that Chief Information Officers (CIOs) are investing in AI tools to ensure they position themselves front and centre in the world’s fourth industrial revolution.

Results in the 2024 CIO Report from global technology service provider, Logicalis UK&I, revealed that 85% of CIOs are earmarking budgets solely for AI development and implementation.

Undoubtedly, this needs to be a strategic objective for many senior leaders in 2024 as 87% of CIOs reported a substantial demand for AI technology from across their organisations.

Before the calls of ‘the robots are taking over’ are made, it is worth noting that there is an air of caution amongst many CIOs. 72% said that they are apprehensive about the challenges of regulating AI use internally and 64% of business leaders expressed worries about AI threatening their core business propositions.

Neil Eke, CEO at Logicalis UK&I says, “Our survey shows that CIOs are unequivocally embracing the disruption. Compared to our 2017 report when CIOs were mainly focused on keeping the lights on, their remit in 2024 is far more strategic, forward-thinking, and business-driven. Digital transformation is being replaced with AI innovation as more investment goes towards emerging technologies. With AI becoming the top priority for CIOs in 2024, it’s not surprising that many are actively seeking opportunities to incorporate such capabilities into their companies.”

The Logicalis CIO Report surveys the views of 1000 CIOs across the globe and has tracked the strategic influence of the CIO for over a decade. During that time technology leaders have moved from the basement to the boardroom. Now, in 2024, CIOs have to juggle major disruptive forces. The rise of AI and advancing security threats, global economic uncertainty and the mounting need for climate action, are upending the status quo and bringing a whole new set of leadership challenges.

Cybersecurity findings from the CIO Report include:

  • 83% reported experiencing a cyber hack in the last year
  • Less than half (43%) felt their business was fully equipped to handle another major security breach
  • Malware and ransomware (41%) are the most significant risks to organisations over the next 12 months, with a similar portion reporting data breaches (36%) and phishing attacks (35%) as the two other most significant risks.

It is staggering that 83% of CIOs reported experiencing a cyber hack in the last year and, even more concerning is that almost all of those surveyed experienced business damage as a consequence.

Mike Fry, Security and Cloud Business Unit Director at Logicalis UK&I explains, “Everyone now has easy access to sophisticated AI models, including cybercriminals, which could explain why so many CIOs reported they’ve experienced a cyber hack recently. There is also a skills gap in the IT industry which is particularly pronounced in the cybersecurity sector, leading to fatigued and overwhelmed IT teams trying to tackle more incidents and alerts.”

Fry continues, “As we enter the era of widespread AI use, the use of AI by threat actors will be one of the single biggest threats we face in Security. However, if used correctly, AI also represents the best chance we have at defence. As a result, organisations should be looking to deploy security systems that leverage AI technology to remain one step ahead. By integrating AI into your Security Operations Centre and deploying AI-enhanced threat detection the technology can help tip the scales in our favour when it really counts.”

As if getting to grips with emerging AI and combatting sophisticated cyber hacks wasn’t enough, CIOs are also facing growing pressures to limit the environmental impact of their organisations on top of the traditional demands to control costs.

Sustainability findings from the CIO Report include: 

  • 92% of CIOs are increasing investment in environmental sustainability initiatives
  • 89% of CIOs have clear targets to reduce carbon emissions from IT
  • 96% of CIOs say their function has a voice in the company’s overall sustainability planning and target-setting

To identify potential areas for improvement, CIOs have to know where to look and the data deluge continues to make this a challenge. 80% of technology leaders struggle to analyse performance across their digital footprint. This lack of visibility is not only a time drain, but a barrier to finding opportunities to bring down costs, enhance service and deliver maximum value back to the business.

No single company can tackle these challenges alone, so it’s encouraging that almost all respondents are alive to the need for collaboration and see the value in assessing the sustainability credentials of new suppliers.

Reflecting on the findings of this year’s tenth-anniversary CIO Report, Logicalis UK&I CEO, Neil Eke concludes, “With the undercurrent of economic uncertainty and an ever-widening skills gap, disruptive, authoritative, innovative thinking is needed. However, the CIO also needs to get the balance right. It’s about using technologies to create opportunities without heightening risk. It’s about driving change now to shape future success.”

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