Top 5 Challenges Facing Tri-State CIOs Today

Table of Contents

Top 5 Challenges Facing Tri-State CIOs Today

Current Trends in Metro New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey

  • Introduction
  • 1. Locking in Better Enterprise Security
  • 2. Training and Retraining for New Technologies
  • 3. Using Data and Analytics to Drive Growth
  • 4. Securing and Retaining Today's Technology Talent
  • 5. Understanding the Candidate Perspective


The changing IT landscape requires Tri-State CIOs to make business-critical decisions every day. Area tech executives face the nearly impossible task of understanding and evaluating how a continual barrage of new technologies might effectively drive business goals. Once selected, they’ll have to lead their implementation while the next innovation is already waiting for review.

Meanwhile, the IT skills gap has made day-to-day management even more complex. Recruiting and retaining top talent is a constant challenge, with all of it happening against a backdrop
of increasing security concerns and budgetary woes.

These are just a few of the obstacles tech leaders across the nation, and in the Tri-State area, must overcome to keep their IT departments running smoothly and their organizations ahead
of the curve.

Read on to explore the top five issues affecting Tri-State CIOs in metro New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey today.

1. Locking in Better Enterprise Security

It’s a fact of life, just when cybersecurity experts solve a problem, cybercriminals develop new ones. In 2018, the average cost of a data breach ranged from $2.2 million to $6.9 million depending on the total number of records hacked. By 2021, global damages are projected to cost over $6 trillion annually. At its core, effective cybersecurity presents two primary challenges: “How do we create and implement best-in-class security measures?” and “How do we effectively manage the resources required?”

By establishing defined security priorities, resources, and protocols, organizations can be better equipped to prevent breaches. These involve incorporating information security into the daily corporate lexicon and making sure it’s ingrained within the “muscle memory” of every department, person, and process. It means assembling a “right-sized” information security team, including a dedicated CISO, and building secure infrastructure for each database and entry point within the organization. These steps help solidify information security as a top priority for the entire organization, and moreover, provide proactive and accountable resources dedicated to understanding and averting the latest security threats. Further, it gives each business unit and entry point a secure lock and key, ensuring that future breaches will be less devastating, as a single hack has little chance of jeopardizing the entirety of the organization’s data.

How to raise the bar on cybersecurity:

  • Make information security part of your organization’s everyday lexicon.
  • Understand and quantify the potential business impact for each system vulnerability.
  • Implement a security program that’s people, process, and technology based.
  • Understand that effective information security is a permanent approach, not a one-time fix.

The European Union’s recently implemented General Data Protection Regulation Breach(GDPR) is further transforming the cybersecurity landscape while potentially providing U.S. companies an actionable “risk-based” blueprint for stricter privacy and security standards. GDPR has introduced rigorous government-regulated compliance standards that are much more robust than what most U.S. organizations have. While these regulations only apply to American companies’ interactions with E.U. residents, stricter GDPR guidelines can provide a useful outline for U.S. companies looking to step up their security measures and better protect customer data going forward.

Challenges Facing Tri-State CIOs

2. Training and Retraining for New Technologies

Companies looking to stay ahead of the technology curve are continually updating the key skill sets they seek in new hires. DevOps and Cloud Engineers didn’t even exist five years ago, while outdated positions like Windows Server Engineers are slowly disappearing. These developments beg the questions: What should companies do with talent who possess increasingly obsolete skills, and how can they implement new technologies when proficient talent is scarce?

training for new technologies

It all comes down to training and retraining. When a specific skill set is difficult to find, recruit professionals with transferable skills and a proven track record of early adoption. In other words, hire for potential. By investing in training, your organization can gain needed talent – like Security or DevOps Engineers – despite the low unemployment rates for those roles.

A look at the talent market:

  • There will be 1 million more computing jobs than applicants who can fill them by 2020.
  • 54% of professionals say it will be essential for them to develop new skills to keep up with workplace changes over the course of their lives.
  • IT and engineering professionals cite staying professionally relevant and employable – learning new skills – as their top professional concern.
  • 2 out of 3 organizations do not have a formal plan to address the tech skills gap.

The same is true for retraining valuable performers whose roles are becoming increasingly obsolete. It makes sense to retrain and upskill your most valuable performers. You’ll fill your organization’s open position while retaining their valuable institutional knowledge. In fact, retraining top talent can be more cost-effective than hiring to fill existing openings.

A recent proprietary Benchmark IT Candidate Perspective Survey reveals that learning new skills and technologies is the top concern among Tri-State tech pros when considering their next career move. This points to the added benefit of a robust training and retraining program – employee loyalty. Companies who offer dedicated training and development in emerging technologies can boost retention by alleviating this common concern.

3. Using Data and Analytics to Drive Growth

For the 10th consecutive year, business intelligence and data analytics ranked as the top differentiating technology in Gartner’s annual CIO Agenda Report. It’s no surprise since data analytics is a chief focus for companies looking to create and drive strategic growth. Organizations that leverage the data they already have – and collect more– can create distinct competitive advantages. A University of Texas study found that the average Fortune 1000 company could increase its revenue by more than $2 billion a year by increasing data usability by just 10%. Results like these have put data analytics and business intelligence at the center of the C-Suite.

Challenges CIOs face

The impact of data analytics is most evident in organizations that use data to improve customer targeting and experience, and measure and optimize ROI. Properly utilized analytics can accelerate lead generation, deliver the right message to the right prospects, and improve conversion rates. The more a company knows about their customer - either from data they have collected, third-party data, or a combination of the two - the better they can deliver a predictive and fully- customized experience throughout the customer lifecycle.

Current Trends Facing CIOs

Beyond sales and marketing, improved data analytics helps increase productivity, decrease risks, manage costs, and build real-time insights. These insights can ultimately be monetized across channels and help drive new product innovation. Big data serves as the key to managing and unlocking all of this potential, making it more important than ever to invest in the right data analytics tools and talent today.

Data analytics by the numbers:

  • More than half of fast- growing sales organizations believe they are effectively using data analytics, compared to only 37% of slow growers.
  • 79% of enterprise executives agree that companies that don’t embrace big data will
    lose their competitive position.
  • Of companies that integrate their analytics strategy into their business strategy, 66% report revenue growth of 15% or more.

4. Securing and Retaining Today's Technology Talent

According to a recent LinkedIn report, the technology sector has a 13.2% annual employee turnover rate—the highest of all U.S. employment sectors. Turnover rates are even higher among high-demand skill sets like Data Analysts and Embedded Software Engineers with 21.7% respectively. While Tri-State-area companies may experience lower turnover rates than their Silicon Valley counterparts, a recent Benchmark IT Candidate Perspective Survey revealed that almost 60% of area tech pros intend to change jobs in the next 12 months.

The sheer volume of market demand puts this reality into sharp focus. A September 2018 review of the leading tech job board, Dice©, revealed over 135,000 open tech jobs* in the NY, CT, and NJ metro area alone excluding Manhattan proper1. Stack this alongside an industry-wide 1.9% unemployment rate, and a May 2018 Conference Board report stating there are currently more than six times as many online ads as unemployed people for computer and mathematical science jobs and reality sinks in.

It’s no surprise that top tech candidates in the Tri-State area often receive multiple offers and are rarely on the market long enough for employers to comparison shop. Even firms willing to pay top dollar will often overlook meaningful retention strategies (and we’re not talking about free snacks and break rooms). Implementing a few of the following approaches can help lessen the pain.

1Job Categories Analyzed: Software Development, Security, Data Analytics, IT and Program Management, Infrastructure, and Networking. Total ads are all unduplicated ads posted on Dice© as of September 14, 2018.

Teams and Feedback Matter

Whether you’re trying to entice potential new hires or retain valuable team members, it’s vital that everyone understand the overarching team mission and their place in it. Frequent, informal check-ins that provide actionable feedback and foster a “team of teams” environment are effective in helping accomplish this. Many companies now employ frequent feedback programs and workplace learning initiatives as a replacement to annual performance reviews.

Specific team members also play a critical role. A recent article states that “who you work with appears to be nearly as important to software engineers as what you’re working on.” This sentiment is also supported in the Benchmark IT Candidate Perspective Survey, where “team environment and direct management” (23%) and “learning new skills and technologies” (26%) were top factors when considering a job change.

Bottom line, while competitive compensation and benefits are necessary to compete for today’s talent, firms that take the right steps to explain context and meaning, provide clear metrics for outcome, and provide frequent, real-time feedback can help stem the turnover tide.

Culture “Add” is The New Culture “Fit”

How many times have you heard that “culture fit” is as important as technical proficiency? While the true definition of culture fit – “shared company values and professional ethics” – remains a key hiring metric, the concept has devolved into one of inherent bias, and come to represent a homogenous culture of people who think, work, and even look alike. Most recently, “culture fit” has essentially become weaponized as a code phrase used to reject candidates subjectively.

The idea of “culture add” turns “culture fit” on its head by advancing the idea that diverse opinions, experiences, and specialized skills enhance not just the team, but the overall company culture. As more and more American businesses adopt a robust diversity and inclusion strategy, the fundamental concept of culture “add” helps to meet that objective.

Commit to Advancement and Opportunity

Almost 50% of respondents in the Benchmark IT Candidate Perspective Survey indicated that “Learning New Skills and Technologies” and “Career Advancement Opportunities” were the most pressing concerns when considering their next career move, while 41% indicated it was the most important factor when accepting a job. These stats are right in line with LinkedIn’s global averages which reveal the leading reason tech professionals leave or start a job is due to either a perceived lack of, or more significant, career opportunity.

Statistics like these provide compelling reasons to include learning and development initiatives in your talent acquisition and retention strategies. Many firms, including LinkedIn, have adopted a simple but powerful exercise that encourages all IT employees to draft individual “career development plans.” Employees are invited to write their goals and identify two skills that will help them get there.

While the program is optional, LinkedIn will provide all the training they need. The majority of today’s skills-based training is digital and available on-demand, which allows for greater flexibility at a lower cost. Isn’t it time to consider an expanded employee development plan as part of your talent retention and acquisition strategy?

5. Understanding the Candidate Perspective in the Tri-State Area

What does it take to attract, retain and grow top IT talent? As the war for highly skilled tech talent continues, it becomes even more critical to fully understand what candidates want when considering their next career move or opting to stay in their current role.

To gain a better picture of what area tech pros think, this past June, Benchmark IT surveyed top IT professionals located in metro-area New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey.

Here are the results. Some may be surprising:

retaining the best talent
IT job market
Challenges Facing CIOs Today

Does your organization have the talent you need to keep up with the changing tech industry? Whether you’re looking to step up your cybersecurity measures, integrate new technologies, or dive into data and analytics, Benchmark IT can help you find, attract, and hire the top professionals you need.

Trends in Metro New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey

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