Following a survey of 133 Australian Chief Information Officers (CIOs) representing organisations responsible for one quarter of Australia’s GDP, local research and advisory organisation, ADAPT, has today released the results of its 2022 CIO Edge survey.

Matt Boon, Director of Strategic Research at ADAPT, says:

Amidst the challenges CIOs have faced over the last two years, one positive is the swing of the pendulum away from focus on operations and technology, towards an organisation’s people, as new ways of working demand different skills and capabilities.”

“The purpose of the organisation and its leadership now trumps purely financial outcomes. In fact, this skills shortage amplified by border closures has been perhaps the biggest catalyst we could have wished for in rethinking what ‘good’ looks like in our organisations”.

Attracting & retaining talent now #1 business priority for Australian CIOs A full 86% of Australian CIOs noted a need to acquire & retain top talent as the skills shortage continues to bite.

Cybersecurity, having ranked fourth at the beginning of 2020, is now the second highest business priority for CIOs (83%) as cyber threats grow in number and sophistication. After being the top CIO business priority in February 2020, acquisition & retention of customers has fallen to fifth.

Mr. Boon remarked: “We’ve seen a seismic shift in priorities since the beginning of 2020, when customer acquisition & retention was the CIOs #1 business priority, and sourcing the right talent barely rated a mention. Businesses understand that without the right digital infrastructure in place, they’ll struggle to win and keep customers”.


Hybrid work to remain despite persistent challenges

32% of employees are heading into the office twice per week, while just 2% of employees are back in the office full-time. As 73% of CIOs say their workforces are currently working from home, 53% expect to continue the practice in 2023 despite ongoing challenges to the hybrid work model.

The top challenges to effective hybrid work included difficulties with team bonding and finding a sense of purpose (59% of respondents), digital fatigue among employees (47%), challenges sharing ideas across the enterprise (40%), and a lack of ability to innovate (37%).

“Despite their best efforts, digital leaders still have a long way to go when it comes to optimising the future workplace. Those securing top talent aren’t limiting their focus to salaries, or when or where work is done, but are instead providing meaningful work for their teams and removing the barriers to how it’s done.” – said Boon.


Top five investment priorities relate to people and ways of working

Development of in-house talent remains high on the to-do lists of CIOs in light of the skills shortage, with staff upskilling and training quoted as the top investment priority of CIOs (65% of respondents), as well as leadership development (64%), IT culture development (60%), cybersecurity awareness programs (56%), and workflow automation (52%).

According to Mr. Boon: “To increase productivity and leverage the post-Covid boom, companies need to adopt emerging technologies, but are being held back by a lack of technical know-how and low levels of digital and cybersecurity literacy from the boardroom running all the way through an organisation. CIOs are right to prioritise the development of their organisation’s digital savviness, as the success of new initiatives in the future depends upon their team’s ability to execute in 2022.”


Skills gaps in IT technology departments preventing digital progress

Behind “competing business priorities”, a lack of skills has been revealed as the most significant internal barrier to IT projects in Australia. In identifying talent shortfalls, CIOs noted a shortage of data architects (50% of respondents), cloud configuration expertise (47%), data scientists (44%), full-stack developers (43%), system integration specialists (42%), AI experts (41%), and cybersecurity experts (41%).

“While the skills shortage is nothing new, such a prolonged lack of much-needed expertise in emerging areas has meant CIOs are now looking inward to identify resources that have the ability to lean into them, while leveraging technology to free up these resources.”

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