9 CIO Trends in 2023

Community Blog
Written by Liz Ramey

APRIL 11, 2023

Each year at Evanta, a Gartner Company, we strive to build world class-agendas, focusing on the CIOs’ mission critical priorities. In order to understand their most pressing challenges and business objectives, we use a two-pronged methodology, which includes a survey to gather quantitative information and interviews to qualify and help us scope the best, most relevant stories. 

Looking at our survey data collectively (1000+ CIOs), we are seeing clear trends in the CIOs’ mission critical priorities (an enterprise view), business objectives (a functional view), and their planned spend.

Overall, CIOs continue to focus on driving efficiencies, growth and digital acceleration, as well as navigating quickly changing headwinds. 

Below is an overview of the CIOs enterprise priorities. These are seen as mission critical to the overall enterprise in 2023.

This graphic tells us:

  1. Increasing Operational Efficiencies and Productivity is the top mission critical priority for CIOs in 2023 and has maintained the #1 spot for three years in a row, increasing by 2 points from 2022.
  2. Digital Business Acceleration is still top of mind for CIOs in 2023 though the number of respondents that selected this priority has decreased by 9 percent points. This isn’t an indication that this initiative is losing steam, but it’s a good one to keep an eye on as enterprises continue to shift their priorities in the midst of economic headwinds.
  3. Optimizing or Reducing Costs has jumped six points, moving this priority from 5th to the 3rd rated enterprise priority. CIOs have indicated they are clearing up technical debt and focusing on high value returns in order to achieve this mission critical priority.

Taking a deeper dive into the business objectives, or functional priorities, we’ve learned that CIOs are continuing to prioritize foundational technologies that add value to the business.

  1. Cybersecurity Strategies has been ranked as the #1 most important business objective for 2023. CIOs have said in various forms that this is the #1 priority that keeps them up at night, because they continue to be challenged with a quickly changing landscape and a lack of needed skills.
  2. Data & Analytics is a very close 2nd and is seen by CIOs as the one priority that will drive better decision making and improve business outcomes. CIOs are challenged with the conflicts between D&A initiatives and other competing priorities, and until they can crack the code on data quality and availability, they won’t make much headway. 
  3. Application (Strategies, Integration, etc.) continues to rise in importance, moving into the #3 priority for the first time in five years, replacing digital business initiatives. Perhaps this indicates that CIOs are tackling digital business transformation at a more micro level, as opposed to a ‘boil the ocean’ approach?

On a surface level, it appears that the CIOs’ operating budgets and planned spend have increased year over year. But according to Gartner research, “Although IT budgets will go up an average of 5.1% in 2023, that’s lower than the rate of inflation.” This – coupled with high interest rates – really tells us that IT budgets are remaining flat this year. 

  1. 51% of CIOs have identified an increase in their operating budget in 2023, but this is down from 61% in 2022.
  2. Similar story, 54% of CIOs have identified an increase in their planned spend for this year, but that’s an 11-point decrease from 2022.
  3. Notable investments this year align directly with their business objectives - Cybersecurity, Data & Analytics and Cloud Applications are three highest planned investments for 2023.

Overall, CIOs are in a precarious position in 2023. This is the year they must show returns on the continued investments the enterprise is making toward digital transformation, as well as influence stakeholders throughout the business to make further investments in technologies that will help them achieve department-specific goals. As the data tells us, many CIOs are going back to the basics, investing in capabilities (like applications) that will accelerate time to value and create new business opportunities. 

For the latest on what CIOs from the world’s leading organizations are working on, join a CIO community near you, or check out our calendar for opportunities to get together with CIO peers.

Liz Ramey headshot

Liz Ramey

Director, Content at Evanta, a Gartner Company