Forrester outlines its predictions for CIOs in 2021

Forrester predicts future-fit technology strategies that enable firms to reconfigure business structures and capabilities will drive tech innovation in 2021.

According to Forrester’s research, 30% of firms will continue accelerating their spending on cloud, security and risk, networks and mobility in 2021, including those struggling to survive.

Forrester further predicts that about one-fifth of conservative Fortune 500 firms will close or be bought out due to their lack of technological maturity. Leading firms, however, will embrace cloud-first and platform strategies for speed and aggressively invest in employees, breaking down old ideals and ferreting out and resolving resistance.

Forrester predicts these fast-acting companies will grow 350% faster than others.

Forrester also predicts that large enterprises will shift toward blending business, technology and operations strategy. They can do this through unicorn leadership by moving the chief information officer (CIO) responsibilities under a tech-savvy chief operating officer (COO) or promoting a business-savvy CIO into a COO role.

Not all companies will fall into the unicorn leadership path, as others may opt for shared responsibilities between a COO and a chief strategy officer (CSO).

The research also shows that CIOs will have to think globally but act locally due to rising national borders and mistrust in international tech relationships. If a CIO steps outside the borders, some people could see it as unpatriotic, resulting in backlash. Forrester predicts this could lead to 75% of multinational CIOs disengaging from certain partners for political reasons.

CIOs will then have to work with risk and procurement executives to lead localization efforts for tech choices, partnerships and data models.

CIOs must also worry about CEOs craving more artificial intelligence (AI) to help their businesses run more effectively. Unfortunately, 90% of CIOs won’t be a key player in a corporate AI strategy, as they tend to focus only on the generic AI policies and tactical AI deployment. This may make many CIOs expendable.

However, according to Forrester, CIOs can protect themselves from potential redundancy by becoming proponents of the work-from-anywhere mode. This flexibility will not only be a beacon for top-level talent, but it’ll also help with retaining the best employees. This will make a CIO nearly indispensable.

Forrester has also released a new report, “Your Future Fit Technology Strategy: Adaptive, Create, And Resilient”, explaining how a future-fit technology strategy will reset the pace and focus of tech investments. Key forecasts from the report include:

  • Future fit tech will spark innovation and spawn new startups
  • Open source will accelerate innovation around platforms
  • Upstart vendors will upend the market with new pricing models and industry focus
  • Late adopter firms will outsource entire business functions and strategies to partners
  • A tech trade war will force firms to leverage hybrid ecosystems

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“The 2020s ushered in an overnight forced migration to all things digital and virtual, thanks to a global pandemic crisis. And that's just the beginning. New customer preferences for values, privacy, and experimentation; work's redistributed future; and operating models redefined by shifting market dynamics will challenge even the best technology strategies,” Forrester mentioned in its report.

Download Forrester’s 2021 Predictions guide to understand the business and technology trends critical to 2021: