By Prasad Ramakrishnan, SVP of IT and CIO at Freshworks.
From economic slowdowns, the looming threat of a global recession, supply chain challenges, escalating inflation, and more simultaneously bruising our respective economies, it’s no wonder we can all feel the ground shaking beneath us. But when the ground shakes, we need to find ways to steady it.
While we cannot throw uncertainty to the side as the world changes around us, what we can do is refocus our business priorities to keep us on solid footing through turbulent times. This is especially true for IT, which over recent years has morphed into the de-facto “department of business enablement” thanks to widespread digital transformation initiatives.
At this time of year, it’s useful to look ahead and take stock of what we may expect to see from an IT practitioner perspective in 2023. A mixture of caution, frugality and more automation seems to be the way forward—and doing these things well can bring immense opportunity to IT.
- Doing more with less
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicts global inflation will peak at 9.5% before dropping back down to 4.1% by 2024. So, while we are tightening our budgets in our personal lives, we can expect the same for our work lives, with businesses finding ways to spend less. For IT, it means doing more with less, as well as stopping or significantly slowing discretionary spend.
One of the main areas of focus will be app rationalization. Just about every CIO I speak with is planning (or in some cases already in the process) of reviewing their app inventory across the enterprise. It’s important to know which apps should be retired, maintained, re-platformed or postponed.
Asking the question, “What are we actually using, and are we using it in a meaningful way?” is good practice regardless of economic conditions. But often, it’s quite low down on the CIO to-do list of more pressing priorities. When times are good, profits are high and spending is flowing, it’s easy to keep adding in various apps to boost disparate areas of functionality. But full visibility of your application estate is a fundamental part of any investment and divestment decisions and usually only comes into focus when budgets are constrained.
- Shining the light on Shadow IT
In addition to app rationalization, shadow IT may come under greater scrutiny. You know, those workarounds rogue departments have put in place to bypass what they feel are any shortcomings or functional restrictions of central IT systems. While this might solve ad hoc smaller departmental issues, it can represent significant hidden costs for the bigger corporate picture, as well as introducing a host of other issues (this is why consistent audits are important).
While in some cases shadow IT may go unnoticed, IT departments must remain prudent with consistent auditing to make sure all apps being used are enterprise-approved. The same rationalization and utilization mindset applies to software licenses that have already been purchased. CIOs should look to check if the company is really using all licensed seats from technology vendors in an effort to shift further hidden costs since there is no room for wasted overheads.
- Sweetening the Deal
And speaking of tech vendors, we can expect some to try “sweetening the deal” with more creative sales offers in an effort to secure longer-term contracts. In my view, this is an area of caution for IT procurement. My personal recommendation is to reevaluate your contracts on any subscriptions often to ensure you still need them. Being mindful of what you are subscribed to will give you more flexibility when it comes to renewal time and prevent you from buying more than you need.
- Bot Workers
We can also anticipate companies shifting much more of their manual payloads into bots via robotic process automation. This not only reduces human dependency on mundane tasks so live agents can focus on the more complex projects and issues at hand. Bots are a way to assist live workers while enabling companies to achieve efficiency without increasing headcount.
- Automation Rewriting Automation
Finally, we can expect the next wave of automation to automate its own development. In other words, code will be written by AI engines, intelligently generating its own code. As low-code and no-code platforms continue to enable the technology behind these innovations, we’ll see more maturity, time savings, fewer errors and faster development.
While economists can’t agree on whether we’ll officially enter a recession in 2023, they can all agree on a definite slowdown. Regardless of the size of your organization and how diversified your revenue streams are, it’s worth leaning into these trends, as they’ll benefit companies of all sizes in the year ahead and help to keep us all on steady ground.