Top 3 Goals & Challenges for CIOs in 2022

2022 Survey Report


C-suite technology leaders have increasingly become all-encompassing business leaders with digital initiatives driving growth and impacting all areas of the organization. Digital business strategies are now part of the core business strategies, increasing both the influence of and pressure on CIOs.

Driving growth through digitalization is a team sport, though. As Gartner notes in their Top Strategic Technology Trends for 2022, “IT cannot match the pace of change alone. Fusion teams — made up of IT and business staff — will collaborate and drive innovation to rapidly digitize the business.”

This suggests that CIO leadership is becoming more complex, as they must reach beyond and within the organization to achieve their goals in the remainder of 2022. Here, we take a closer look at those goals, based on our annual survey of nearly 1,000 CIOs from Evanta’s communities. 

Top Priorities for CIOs

CIOs from leading companies around the world reported that their top priority for 2022 is cybersecurity strategies, followed by data and analytics. These two areas of focus switched places since 2021 when we last surveyed IT leaders. In addition, digital talent moved into the top five priorities for the first time – reflecting the urgent need for talent and skills in the current environment.


Executing Cybersecurity Strategies

Each year, we also survey CIOs about the goals and challenges to making progress on their top initiatives -- in this case, cybersecurity strategies, data and analytics, and digital business priorities. CIOs primarily cited improving business outcomes as a crucial goal for this year, while a lack of skills is causing challenges for many IT leaders across their objectives. 

These are their specific goals and challenges in creating and executing cybersecurity strategies.

Goals for Cybersecurity Strategies

86% Mitigating risks

52% Improving resiliency

35% Improving processes and efficiencies

Challenges around Cybersecurity Strategies

52% Quickly changing landscape 

40% Lack of resources

39% Lack of skills

Here is a sample of what technology leaders have told us anecdotally about managing cybersecurity issues: 

We’ve spent 18 months investing in cyber. It is a complex environment, and you can never be fully prepared for the next attack.”

Because of the increase in threats, we’ve had to invest resources in improving and maturing our incident response plan.” 

How do you bring risk best practices into the security conversation? What's your return on security investment? Cybersecurity has an opportunity cost if not done properly.”

CIOs primarily want to learn more about this topic from a strategic perspective (77%), but also from an execution point of view (65%).

Focusing on Data & Analytics

For their second highest priority of data and analytics, CIOs reported that making data-driven decisions (80%) is their primary goal, while they view a lack of skills (53%) as their main obstacle to achieving that goal.

Goals for Data & Analytics

80% Making data-driven decisions

71% Improving business outcomes

44% Delivering and defining value

Challenges around Data & Analytics

53% Lack of skills

41% Lack of resources

34% Legacy technology


These are some opportunities and concerns we have heard from CIOs about their goal of leading a more data-driven organization: 

The problem we’re seeing is that people in business are not trained to use the tools we give them – they have to know how to use and leverage the data.”

What we’re still learning is how the organization makes it so that activities are not superficial or done in a silo. How does data become part of the core of how the business is run?”

Our issue is how to make data more business driven. We are building out platforms to share data, but unless there is a specific business problem to solve, it's difficult to get buy-in.”

CIOs want to discover more about data and analytics from a strategic perspective (77%), but also how to execute on those strategies (65%).

Driving Digital Business Priorities

For CIOs, digital business initiatives are their third highest priority for the second year in a row. They cited expanding digital business and increasing maturity (66%) as their primary objective, while a lack of skills (44%) is the biggest challenge to meeting their goal.

Goals for Digital Business Priorities

66% Expanding digital business & increasing maturity

60% Improving business outcomes

57% Optimizing the customer experience

Challenges around Digital Business Priorities

44% Lack of skills

38% Legacy technology

36% Lack of resources

CIOs articulated these concerns and observations about their digital business priorities: 

As digital capabilities are becoming more important for business objectives in different departments, these divisions need to have even more hands-on control with digital – but it also creates a more siloed focus, instead of shared across divisions.”

We have a digital program with lofty goals. How are other companies defining digital, creating awareness of their programs, and then prioritizing the goals?”

We are working on building new capabilities and taking digital to the next level, but it’s hard to determine the right things to invest in to push the business forward in uncertain times.”


CIOs want to hear more about digital business from a strategic perspective (77%), with how to execute their priorities coming in second (62%).

What Lies Ahead

Overall, CIOs responding to our survey this year have a goal to improve business outcomes in their functional area, which is aligned with their top enterprise goal of driving growth. Their major challenge to achieving that is a lack of skills, suggesting a need for upskilling, reskilling and recruiting to meet their objectives this year. 

While improving business outcomes and driving growth are their primary goals, the thread that connects all of their priorities is digital. From cybersecurity to talent and from data to growth, the CIO’s goals and challenges are closely integrated with the rapid expansion of digital business opportunities. As one CIO noted, “Our digital strategy is our company strategy. It's one and the same.” 

Digital is interconnected with their top concern of cybersecurity, as well, as this CIO asked: “At one point do we consider these [cyber] conversations to be part of everything we do? Cyber is a theme across everything digital.” 

Another IT leader reported: “Cyber risk is not just a technical problem – it’s a risk problem… Cybersecurity hits that sweet spot between negative reputational impact and adversely affecting the revenue of the company. That’s why it’s an issue for CIOs.”

CIOs are also thinking about what’s next for digital. As some told us in the survey, they want to “move on from transformation” or have made strides in customer-facing digital initiatives and want to apply that learning elsewhere. As one said, “How do we really start thinking about digital first?” 

The acceleration of digital growth and transformation offers opportunities for CIOs to collaborate and influence their peers across the C-suite. In fact, as we recently noted in a summary of our Leadership Perspective Survey findings, driving growth is a top priority for all roles in the C-suite, providing areas for CIOs to align their goals with others’ outside of their function. 

If you want to talk about what’s next for CIOs and how they can collaborate across the C-suite, Evanta offers regional communities of CIOs that meet both in person and virtually throughout the year. Join them to discuss the mission-critical priorities and challenges addressed in this survey report. Click here to find an opportunity to connect with your community.

Based on more than 980 CIOs’ responses to Evanta’s 2022 Leadership Perspective Survey.


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