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5 IT priorities that will shape how we work next year

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Technology now drives the way we work. How will CIOs and IT directors ensure it keeps working in the post-COVID world?
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The current hybrid work environment has made us more reliant on digital technologies. But, while they allow us to connect and collaborate, they’re not always easy or frictionless to use. Given that these new ways of working are likely here to stay both short and long term, how will IT leaders ensure that they’re improving agility and making us more productive, rather than less?

Based on our survey of 100 enterprise CIOs and IT directors, as well as key industry sources, here’s where we think IT will need to focus its efforts in the next year.

The top 5 IT priorities for 2022 – and how they’ll impact the employee experience

1. Productivity will top the list of budget priorities

As adaptations to new ways of working become permanent, companies will seek to leverage them for positive gains, leading to an increased IT focus on productivity. The 2022 State of IT Report from Spicework Ziff Davis revealed that most businesses (53%) plan to increase tech spending or keep budgets the same (35%) YoY. And, according to CIO Dive, “Tech priorities for the year ahead are focused on sustaining operations and advancing productivity.” The publication also states that 80% of businesses expect to maintain or increase their IT budgets next year and that CIOs are searching for a clear return on investment in their software choices

2. Digitally empowering frontline workers will be more crucial than ever

2021 has given frontline workers a status upgrade, and empowering these newly dubbed essential workers will be a new priority for IT. In IDC’s Worldwide CIO Agenda predictions for 2022, the research consultancy anticipates that “through 2026, 65% of CIOs will sustain a cycle of tech-based empowerment, agility, and resilience through collaborative governance, new service delivery models, and a business outcomes orientation.” This aligns with the results of our survey of 100 IT leaders, in which respondents admitted that their frontline workers often lack the same application and systems access as their desk worker colleagues.

3. IT will be more responsible for employee communication and engagement

In that same study, 93% of IT directors and CIOs we interviewed said that employee communications and employee engagement are greater priorities for them since the pandemic began. We predict that the hybrid workforce will cause this trend to continue in 2022—as some jobs become permanently remote, technology will be all that keeps these distributed employees linked to company culture. Maintaining safety and morale among essential workers is also likely to be a key engagement goal, while C-suite leaders will want to ensure the whole workforce is getting critical company news. Technology will be the factor that makes achieving these goals possible. 

4. CFOs will drive a greater IT emphasis on analytics

In an effort to maintain IT budgets while staying cost-efficient during a pandemic, CFOs will place a greater focus on workforce analytics. Research from Gartner supports this, as their recently published survey lists “advanced data analytics technologies” at the top of CFO priority lists. This priority should cross over to IT as well, as COVID-related belt-tightening will mean an even greater need to prove the ROI of their technology investments. Advanced analytics and reporting will be key to showcasing the value to financial leadership.

5. Digital noise will create demand for a seamless digital employee experience

Most employees are now using an average of 6-10 different tools just to communicate, and the number is growing along with the distributed workforce. The resulting friction will counteract the productivity gains expected from remote work. This will result in a mandate for IT to create a seamless digital experience that works for every employee role, whether those roles are onsite, in the field, remote or a combination of the three. Expect CIOs to invest in seamless solutions that enable employees to toggle between multiple tools, systems, and information types within a single environment. 

How Firstup will support the IT evolution of the coming year

The FirstUp platform is designed to support IT goals for productivity, utility, and a seamless experience. Our technology orchestrates the digital employee experience by delivering personalized tools, resources, and systems access to the endpoint or device that each employee prefers. This experience is made even more frictionless by FirstUp Assistant, a built-in chatbot that enables employees to read from and write to any integrated system—all from one interface. FirstUp also lets companies target critical information to specific employees or groups, and ensure that they receive it, which we see as vital capabilities during the pandemic.

Conclusion

We’ve spent 2021 developing many new ways of working. Now IT leaders will need to spend the next year ensuring that they keep working. Learn more about the challenges facing CIOs and IT leaders, and how they plan to address them, in our IT leader survey.

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We are changing our company name, but our platform is still the same—Firstup. We are redefining the digital employee experience to put people first and lift companies up. We make communication solutions that build authentic engagement and create two-way conversation between employees and companies. Our powerful orchestration engine connects every worker, everywhere, on any device with personalized information that helps them do their best work. That’s why 40% of Fortune 100 companies like Amazon, ABInBev, Ford and Pfizer have chosen us to power their frontline, simplify their digital workplace and unlock the potential of their workforces. Get started at firstup.io.

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