Three Areas of Focus for CIOs in 2024

Community Blog
Written by Katie O'Reilly

FEBRUARY 22, 2024

After facilitating nearly 200 Evanta CIO community gatherings in 2023, we are taking a look back at the key trends and topics and thinking about what the critical areas of focus will be for technology leaders this year. Economic uncertainty, high inflation and ongoing supply chain challenges were the backdrop for C-level executives globally in 2023. These economic forces meant that CIOs were focused on finding operational efficiencies, optimizing costs and demonstrating the value of technology initiatives, in addition to managing risk and securing the enterprise.

With the explosion of ChatGPT and other generative AI tools onto the scene, we facilitated numerous conversations about AI last year and expect that to continue in 2024. CIOs continue to manage the evaluation of AI tools, strategize on the best use cases for their organizations, and strike a balance between the benefits and risks of AI implementation.

As this Gartner report on AI Readiness points out, “The C-suite expects CIOs to lead the organization’s AI strategy to capitalize on the benefits of AI while avoiding the risks. The stakes are high, given the combination of AI excitement and disillusionment that exists in every organization.”

On top of this, CIOs face an ongoing and constantly evolving need for skilled technology workers. With all of these factors in mind, here are the three key themes we believe CIOs will focus on in 2024:

  1. Shaping the Future-Ready Enterprise with AI & Automation

As CIOs navigate their organizations’ pathway to adoption of AI initiatives, they are establishing use cases, testing how to govern the usage of tools, and determining the ROI. One of their main concerns as an enterprise leader is to increase operational efficiencies and productivity, so they not only need to implement AI and automation in a secure way, but also in a manner that demonstrates value to the organization.

Many CIOs in community discussions express concerns about protecting their organization’s data, particularly when it comes to the usage of generative AI tools. Risk management is a concern with AI, in general, as this Gartner report points out: “More than 60% of CIOs say AI is part of their innovation plan, yet fewer than half feel the organization can manage its risks.” 

The topic of AI and Machine Learning has moved into the top three functional priorities for CIOs in the early results of our annual Leadership Perspective Survey, where we ask executives in our communities about their specific priorities for the year. While the survey is still accepting responses for 2024, this year would mark the first time that AI would be among CIOs’ top three priorities.

  1. Strengthening Partnerships for Wider Business Impact

As business growth is increasingly driven by technological and digital initiatives, the CIO role has become more and more interwoven with organizational change and improving outcomes across the enterprise. Gartner’s 2024 CIO Agenda suggests that CIOs will be more successful in delivering on their digital priorities by partnering with other CxOs across the business. Their research found that “CIOs who co-lead and resource digital delivery teams end-to-end with their CxOs are more than twice as likely to meet or exceed the outcomes from their digital technology investments compared to CIOs who leave the delivery of digital capabilities to their IT departments.” 

This emphasizes the importance of partnering with C-suite peers to deliver digital initiatives. The Gartner report calls this “a franchise model for designing partnerships with other CxOs,” and found that CIOs who adopt this approach meet or exceed the target outcomes on 63% of their digital initiatives.

  1. Illustrating IT’s Value through Business-first Initiatives

We think that CIOs will remain focused on demonstrating value and driving enterprise initiatives like growth, cost optimization and increased productivity this year. Gartner’s 2024 CIO Agenda states that “CIOs are being tasked with an increased demand in delivering business value from technology initiatives without additional resources.”

In our own Leadership Perspective Survey research, 44% of CIOs currently say that their budgets are increasing this year, while 39% report that their budgets are flat and 17% said that their operating budget is decreasing. With less than half reporting an increase, CIOs are likely to have to do more with less – or with not as many resources as they might need.

Gartner’s recommendation to partner with other C-suite leaders and adopt a franchise model cites one benefit of this approach as sharing or overcoming budget and talent constraints. But they caution that the other executives must be bought-in, noting, ”For business leaders to commit their own time, their teams’ time and their resources to digital delivery, they first need to view it as a shared responsibility.”

Year after year, CIOs have led growth and transformation, adapted and grown their role in the organization, and delivered value through technology to their organizations. They support constantly evolving and accelerating digital initiatives – now dominated by AI and automation – to positively impact the business.

As CIOs in Evanta communities continue to respond to the 2024 Leadership Perspective Survey, we will share their specific priorities, opportunities and challenges for the year ahead. To stay up-to-date on key topics for CIOs, you can join an Evanta CIO Community, or if you are already a community member, sign in to MyEvanta to check out and register for your upcoming community programs.


Katie O'Reilly headshot

Katie O'Reilly

Director, Content at Evanta, a Gartner Company