2023: An interesting year ahead – what are your priorities?

We’re quickly approaching 2023, and if you’re anything like me, it’s one of the hardest years to call in terms of defining priorities. There are lots of predictions of a downturn, but un-employment is at a historical low. Consumers still seem to be spending, but there’s a cost-of-living crisis. It’s hard to tell whether CEOs will look to drive productivity and do more with less, or invest in the future.

There are, I think, a few key points that we can concentrate on with certainty. As for everything else, we just have to make sure we’ve got a team that’s ready to weather any storm or seize any opportunities that come along.

Business Continuity. Reading the Daily Mail, you might think that power outages are almost a certainty. But in reality it’s probably only a slim chance of businesses having to deal with power cuts. And Covid has already prepared businesses for rapidly changing working circumstances. But it’s still a good idea to review business continuity plans with an eye on what you’ll do in case of a power outage.

Employees. This is not a time to be compromising on your key employees. People are struggling with the cost of living, and if they can get a step-change in salary by moving to another company, then they will do it. It can be hard work, but we should never have anyone leave the team simply due to salary. So making sure your team is paid appropriately now will save heartache further down the line. Above all though, make sure your employees are doing interesting, satisfying, and fulfilling jobs that they enjoy, because they’ll stick around a lot longer.

Productivity. As IT leaders, we hold the keys to improving productivity across the whole business, and we should make sure the CEO knows that. In fact, we should be spending time with all department heads to help them achieve more with the same resources (if not fewer). Start with the simple things: consistent data and reliable, integrated systems. Increasingly, Machine Learning and potentially AI may well also have a part to play. Removing drudgery and dull repetitive activities from employees can provide a step-change in their productivity and engagement with the business (see above about employees!).

Flexibility. Another message for the CEO from IT is about flexibility. CEOs will be charting a course through troubled waters in 2023. If you can support and enable their decisions, it will be of great value to your CEO. Work with your team to think ahead. What if the business pivoted? How would the IT function react? How might IT enable success? Today’s technical environment is capable of far more flexibility than previously, and having an agnostic set of services to use for whatever the company does to keep growing will be hugely helpful for any CEO working hard to keep shareholders and customers happy.

Self-care. Finally, we should be taking good care of ourselves. We have a lot of people relying on us, both above and below, and it’s very easy for the pressure to become overwhelming, for an amazing job to become a hard, stressful, and thankless role. So take time out, find a coach, engage with the CIO/CTO community. I strongly believe that to be successful in 2023, you’re going to need some outside support, care, and comfort.

You can start by enjoying the holidays—take some proper time off and get some rest, so you can come back refreshed for what’s going to be a really interesting year. You probably don’t need it, but good luck out there!