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How IT Leadership Can Plan for 2021

Plan with what you know, and make peace with uncertainty.

November 17, 2020

As the end of the year rolls around, CIOs must plan their strategies and approaches for the following year. 2020 has been a year completely unlike many others. Planning for 2021 will require unique considerations that many IT professionals have not faced before in their careers.

The economic hardships during and following COVID-19 combined with the surge of technology adoption create an uncertain dynamic for 2021. IT leadership must consider the possible scenarios for spending and budget as well as the uncertainties when planning for 2021.

Here are the keys to CIO 2021 planning:

What Happened to IT Departments in 2020?

Before planning for the year ahead, CIOs must consider how IT departments were impacted during 2020. The annual survey of CIOs and IT leaders conducted by the Harvey Nash Group and KPMG found that technology played a critical role in organizations as they sought to navigate the difficult, and unexpected, conditions in 2020. Businesses that were able to push budgets forward for work-from-home technologies found greater success. The $15 billion extra in emergency spending to equip employees to work from home has now flattened out into more of a steady-state, but that does not mean technology spending will plummet.

Remote Work Will Continue

One major consideration that you should account for in 2021 is remote work. Remote work is an investment for future working conditions as well. 43 percent of leadership believes that over half of the staff members will continue working remotely even when offices re-open. In 2021, you should include remote work in your vision. Consider how remote work will impact your team, communication, and workflow. Some tips for handling remote working in 2021 include:

  • Setting guidelines for the expectations of remote employees. Define goals and provide helpful feedback.
  • Ensure remote employees feel valued.
  • Clear communication is the key to successful remote work. Make sure you have the proper technology in place.
  • Develop a company culture for remote workers so they feel engaged and your team stays connected.
  • Make yourself available to remote employees. Respond in a timely manner to communications and schedule regular catch-ups.
  • Provide the tools your remote workers need to effectively do their job. This may include the correct hardware, software, collaboration tools, and more.

Technology Spending in 2021

Technology can either help or hamper a business. During the pandemic, it allowed people to transition to working from home effortlessly. It also facilitated retailers to offer online ordering options like Buy Online Pick Up In-Store.

As a CIO, you must consider the budget. The reality is that technology budgets will vary by industry. Some industries looking at IT budget increases are:

  • Power and Utilities
  • Government
  • Healthcare

On the other hand, less than 50 percent of businesses in these industries expect an IT budget increase:

  • Telcom
  • Technology
  • Retail
  • Financial Services
  • Leisure

Furthermore, businesses in all sectors are dedicating their technology resources to specific areas. As you plan for 2021, you’ll need to consider the top areas that leaders want to invest in the most important technology investments for the upcoming year are:

  • Security/privacy: More than 41 percent of organizations experienced increased cybersecurity threats from malware and spear-phishing during COVID-19. Additionally, top-notch security is absolutely essential for protecting sensitive data during remote working conditions.
  • Customer experience and engagement: In 2013, Forrester predicted that customer experience would become a top priority for CIOs, and that sentiment rings true for 2021. It’s been challenging for businesses in all sectors to engage customers during COVID, and those that can understand and influence the customer journey most will outperform others. Customer experience is particularly relevant for CIOs entering 2021 as so much of the customer experience is now online.
  • Infrastructure/cloud: To account for remote work, ensure privacy, and deliver the best customer experience, CIOs must have the proper infrastructure. According to CIO.com, “accelerating cloud adoption is the new normal for businesses as they modernize IT infrastructure and enhance tech collaboration.”

Plan for Uncertainty

A huge part of 2021 CIO planning is acknowledging and accounting for uncertainty. There’s still a lot of uncertainty about the future, making it difficult to accurately forecast for long-term planning. You’ll need to take this into consideration as you map out your year, but leaving room for adjustments and changes.

Get Help with your CIO Planning for 2021

There’s no doubt about it, CIOs have their work cut out for them when it comes to 2021 planning. But you don’t have to do it alone! BLM Technologies has an abundance of services that can help you plan and operate throughout 2021. We offer professional solutions, like remote worker support, business impact studies, on-demand repair, and more. Let’s talk solutions and help you prepare for 2021.

Plan for 2021 technology expenditure with LCR