CIO Skills Shortages Illuminate the Need to Create a Digital Customer Experience

What do CIOs have to look forward to in 2015? It’s time to put major resources behind powering a digital customer experience, or else. IDC, Gartner, and Forrester are all screaming about it, but have CIOs have gotten the message?

It’s not entirely clear, but there are some intriguing hints in CIO Magazine’s fascinating 2015 State of the CIO report—based on a survey of 558 IT chiefs. Apart from the issue of who they report to (the CEO, 44% of the time), how much money they make (average compensation $234,830 and rising), or IT’s role in the organization (a depressing 56% are seen as service providers or cost center, just 13% as business leaders), the survey includes a telling slide laying out The Top Skills Shortages Expected in 2015. Here’s the list:CIO_shutterstock_129137582

  1. Big data, business intelligence, analytics
  2. Security, risk management
  3. Application development, programming
  4. Mobile technologies
  5. Enterprise architecture

Parsing the list shows that the message may indeed be getting through to many CIOs. After all, if CIOs see a shortage, that means there’s a demand:

For Analytics: The operational, supply chain, and customer behaviors trapped inside of software represents a huge opportunity to help prioritize investments inside and outside of IT. Hint: Outside IT is likely a bigger win.

For Security: This is always a priority, but becomes even more important when dealing with customer-facing data, credit cards, and personally identifiable data.

For App Development: Sure, companies can outsource development, but customer-facing software is a living being, and constant iteration and improvement is a requirement for competitive survival.

For Mobile: BYOD is table stakes, going where your customers are has the potential to change the business.

For Enterprise Architecture: CIOs have to figure out how to keep the lights on the back-office systems that once made them successful, while shifting resources to deliver a modern customer experience.

The skills shortage is the upstream situation. The downstream question, however, is what are CIOs going to do about that demand? That’s a critical distinction, because we believe that New Relic’s core businesses have the potential to address these shortages by disrupting the conventional ways of filling these needs.

More hiring? Or better efficiency?

Historically, CIOs would address these kinds of shortages by hiring highly trained experts and/or spending time and money training existing staffers in the required skills. But increasingly, instead of buying or building the needed expertise, you may be able acquire the answers and end results you need as a service instead of a skill.

That can be true across the board, from analytics to mobile. For example, it’s it’s currently very difficult to hire all the application developers and programmers you need. So it makes sense to do everything you can to make the most of the people and skills you do have! Look at it this way, if you can make your programmers 20% more effective, that’s 20% fewer new developers you need to hire. And one proven way to help developers focus is to give them more information—more feedback loops—about how their applications are actually performing in the real world.

Development and app operations groups derive three key benefits from real-time feedback loops on software performance and feature engagement.

First, when something goes wrong, application operations knows exactly who to call and more importantly who not to bother. The result? Less downtime and fewer distractions.

Second, when developers monitor how their releases perform, they tend to write code with fewer errors over time. (For an example, see this Move Inc. case study.)

Finally, when developers and app operations spend less time chasing problems, they have more time to devote to developing the digital customer experience. And as we’ve already noted, it’s that digital customer experience that will dictate success or failure in 2015.
CIO image courtesy of

Abner Germanow was formerly Senior Director of Partner Marketing & Evangelism at New Relic. View posts by .

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