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Six trends of 2018, Editor’s review of the CIO year

The CIO’s role is more intense and critical than at any other time. When I look back on 2018 and the myriad of discussions held with CIOs and CTOs, whether at networking events, for podcasts or at major conferences such as the recent .Next by Nutanix, it is clear that organisations are well aware of the impact of technology. Therefore the demands on business technology leaders are at an all time high.

Six key trends came out of the discussions and forums for CIOs and CTOs I had the honour of hosting in 2018, these being: adaptation, revolution, leadership, customer focus, data and insight; and a new vendor landscape.


Over the course of 2018 the Horizon CIO Network events and podcasts revealed a number of vertical markets and organisations adapting as a result of technology transforming the way customers, communities and organisations operate. These discussions showed that stalwart markets and organisations who have already been through a number of technological changes are adapting at ever more rapid rate, as a result of technology.

Craig Walker, Global CIO for the Shell Downstream business told the Horizon CIO Podcast how the long heralded environmental revolution is taking place. Shell, no longer aims to be an oil company, but an energy company. In a deep and honest podcast interview Walker revealed how Shell has realised that its extensive infrastructure, developed and invested in for the extraction and processing of hydrocarbons is ideally suited to the creation and shipment of sustainable energy. For the Global CIO that changes a wide range of processes and changes the culture of the organisation.

Walker was not only the CIO witnessing a sector adapt. The rise of low cost travel and web based travel aggregators has changed personal and business travel forever. For Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT) that has led to the organisation using technology and in particular data to provide consulting and services that improve the corporate travellers experience. Improving the business travel experience not only benefits the traveller, it improves the productivity of the organisation and drives loyalty and business back to CWT.

Data led understanding has also modernised the civil service. Mayank Prakash, CIO of the Department for Work and Pensions told the .Next conference (the Horizon CIO Network was a supplier to this event) how data is enabling the civil service to personalise its relationship with citizens at birth, unemployment, retirement and when we shuffle off this mortal coil. Prakash will join utilities giant Centrica in 2019 and will surely bring a data led personalisation approach to the owner of British Gas.


The world of academia is undergoing a major revolution and technology is a major part of that transformation. Over the course of 2018 the Horizon CIO Network heard from technology leaders in major universities. The way students interact, join and study is changing beyond recognition. The challenge for academia is not to repeat the mistakes of sectors such as the media and devalue their product and lose the customer base to new vertical markets.

Just as students have changed the way they deal with educational institutions, the pillars of state are seeing a major change in citizen behaviour. Collaboration between different parts of the public sector is becoming not only possible, but also essential to manage the impact of a rapidly ageing population, climate change, economic damage and conflict. As the nation’s capital, London and its technology leaders are working frantically to ensure that the local authorities, the National Health Service (NHS) and the commercial sector are working together, reducing duplication and improving the value of the service they offer citizens.


As sectors adapt or revolutionise, so too must the leadership methods used by CIOs and CTOs. From procurement to Agile the Horizon CIO Podcast debates revealed that existing structures no longer work in organisations seeking to offer personalised services, that the pace of change required to be a data led business requires an empowered workforce and therefore a coaching leadership stye. For the wider leadership team this means a need for greater access to technology knowledge and insight, as a result more CIOs have become COOs and more CIOs are becoming Non-Executive Directors, helping boards analyse and support the technology journey their organisation is on.

Customer centric
Technology has driven down the cost of many products and services, in part through empowering the customer with levels of knowledge those of us who began our working careers in the early and mid-90s could not have imagined. As a result technology is a key channel for the customer relationship. Over the course of 2018 the Horizon CIO Network has revealed a growing focus on products and customer journeys and don’t be mistaken that this is only taking place in retail. David Cooper at Mitie told this network about the difference technology makes to the working days of staff in offices, airports and Formula One engineering organisations and the improvement in productivity as a result.

Data and insight
From the hospital bedside to the football pitch or pit lane, the ability to collate data and then interrogate it to create meaningful insight is at an all time high. Throughout the year CIOs in every sector revealed how ensuring organisations have data lakes analytics tools and can secure data skills is key.

To hear Damian Smith, (pictured above) CIO of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) discuss how player and spectator safety has improved was just one of a series of compelling discussions we had through the course of the year. With artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) becoming cost effective and realistic for organisations the possibilities are unbounded.

Vendor landscape
This network carries the moniker Horizon as its mission statement is to help CIOs, CTOs and next generation service providers network and build opportunities together. Over the course of 12 months some fascinating organisations in network intelligence, security, low code, cloud computing, data analytics, information management and convergence have shared their insights and begun relationships.

Having hosted CIO events for over a decade now, I still thrill at the sight of communities coming together and sharing expertise. No partner to the Horizon CIO Network has left the room without having gained some valuable knowledge and some productive relationships have begun from shared dinner or a request on our WhatsApp group.

The challenge for the incumbent vendors as we head into 2019 is to become more understanding, to listen, to partner in communities where not every lesson is an easy one and to seek genuine value.

2018 was a year that placed the CIO and CTO community under great pressure. The Conservative Party exit from our largest trading area in 2019 will place our community at the forefront of major challenges. But the Horizon CIO Network offers everyone genuine support – join us and prosper in 2019.

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About Mark Chillingworth 278 Articles
Mark Chillingworth has over 20 years of journalism and editing experience across all media platforms including online, live events, print magazines and television.

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