IT Leader

A Look Ahead

What Does 2021 Have in Mind for IT Leaders

A Look Ahead – What Does 2021 Have in Mind for IT Leaders

It's interesting to look back at Forrester's 2020 CIO Predictions where they stated, "Uncertainty in 2020 will create a leadership opportunity for CIOs." They didn't have the foresight of the pandemic at that time – but they definitely hit the nail on the head with this particular forecast. They intended to prepare tech leaders and their teams for the only real constant in our future: mounting and rapid change.

From Gartner's 2021 CIO Agenda Report, as a result of the pandemic, 66% of respondents cited increased relationships between the CIO and CEO, 70% of CIO's are assuming leadership of high-impact initiatives, and 80% of CIOs are educating CEOs and other stakeholders on the value of IT. CIOs have been trying for years to break down the barrier between IT and senior business leaders to modernize and take full advantage of technology. Due to the current business landscape, many of those barriers have been removed, and the majority of business leaders are prioritizing these initiatives.

IT Will Continue to be THE Business

CIOs and IT leaders must translate technology needs into the "language of the business." The language of the business today is increasingly technology-centric. It's not just technologies that have changed: it's also the role that information and digital technologies play in an enterprise. Where technology was previously viewed as a supporting function, it is now critical and core to what a company does. In fact, Gartner's 2021 CIO Agenda reports that 70% of CIO's deepened their knowledge of specific business processes to advise the business in the past year. The impact of these moves has shown that the better a CIO performs for the business, the more the business asks of them. Many CIO's have reported that the business is making higher-value, more strategic requests and expect that trends like these will continue in 2021. Now is the opportunity for IT Leaders' to secure their seat as a driving force at the executive table.

President of SoftwareONE North America, Ashley Gaare, states, "The alignment between IT and the business is even closer now - because in many cases - IT has become the business. The conversations we are having with IT leaders today are very different from those I was having over a year ago. Rather than being challenged by the business to explain why to move to the cloud or why the need for transformation, the conversation is now how can we do it faster, with more agility and flexibility."

Modernization and Shifting Business Models

Challenge creates opportunity, and with the new abundance of opportunities for IT - now is certainly not the time to take your foot off the pedal. IT has the chance to shine as the enablers of a remote workforce, maintaining operations and becoming closer to the business than ever before. And for many – IT teams and leaders have seized the opportunity to modernize and innovate in a time of uncertainty. There is a need for many organizations to shift business models to remain afloat and competitive.

Mike Fitzgerald, Chief Innovation Officer at SoftwareONE, says, "More and more, we are seeing organizations reach out for support in overhauling legacy applications, shifting business models to engage with new customer bases, and driving innovation. IT leaders have the opportunity to be the catalyst for change, innovating business models to drive new revenue streams and create new customer experiences."

Legacy applications and infrastructure lack the responsiveness to meet the needs of an organization in times of change. Therefore, application modernization is necessary to facilitate flexibility, agility, and integration of technologies to drive future growth and foster innovation. This is just one example of modernization that we are seeing.


Hard lessons have been learned this past year – but creativity, adaptability, and resilience are the keys to navigating the ongoing change. For companies leading the way in their industry, extending their business processes to new channels can help them expand revenue opportunities across a greater number of users or customers. IT is leading the charge, and the strong relationships that they are building within the business will be needed for further digital business acceleration.

As we head into a new year, with optimism and caution, SoftwareONE will be publishing a series of executive thought leadership pieces to address many of the challenges and opportunities that IT Leaders face. Make sure to sign up for our mailing list to receive our monthly newsletter with relevant content and solutions from industry thought leaders and our partners on the state of the industry and business. Join our Mailing list here.

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Heather Dahmer

Marketing & Alliances Manager

Software Asset Management, Software Portfolio Management & Compliance

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