What are the biggest challenges facing IT leaders today?

Published Jun 2, 2022

Well before Covid shifted work remote, IT departments had already begun to face key challenges that persist today. Think SaaS sprawl, shadow IT, and maximizing ROI on the software companies use. What’s changed is that the context of the post-pandemic work world has made meeting these challenges even more urgent. “This is not just about managing a complex portfolio anymore,” said Sham Chatterjee, CIO of Linksys. “We’ve all heard about the ‘Great Resignation.’ So it’s the problem of attracting and retaining talent, especially in a distributed workforce.”

Chatterjee spoke as part of a panel of IT leaders at Pendo’s Guide: The Digital Adoption Summit. Moderated by Enrique Jenkins (VP of Business Technology, Pendo), the panel discussed a host of topics, but ever-present in the conversation was how the new normal of a hybrid and distributed workforce has transformed the role of the CIO today. 

The key to driving software adoption? Empathy

One of the key points of discussion was the role that IT should play in driving software adoption. Because of the nature of the digital workplace and a hybrid environment, experiences with software are a larger and larger factor in shaping the employee experience. Being able to understand employee wants and needs and empathize with their pain points is crucial in order for them to successfully adopt new digital technologies. “Putting yourself in the shoes of an employee and designing an experience that is truly unique for them is very important,” said Ekta Chopra, chief digital officer at e.l.f. Beauty. 

Becoming more people-savvy will be crucial for IT leaders going forward. “How can we now become a team that’s enabling, that’s empowering, that’s truly understanding?” asked Saket Srivastava, CIO of Asana. “Talking about employee experience is so important. We can no longer be a team or a function sitting behind a desk and saying ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ That does not work. How can you make people understand what’s in the [digital] ecosystem, what it’s being used for, and provide consultation, guidance, and build that partnership with them?”

Cultivate cross-departmental partnerships

In order to be truly effective, the panel argued, IT can’t work in a silo—and neither can other departments across a company. Only real partnership can drive real results. Pankaj Jain (divisional CIO, corporate systems and data, Silicon Valley Bank) pointed to the example of how IT can and should work alongside product teams in driving adoption. “Product defines what needs to be built. And then IT defines how to build it the right way. It’s a joint responsibility of product and IT to collaborate on software adoption.”

For Chatterjee, partnership and collaboration are increasingly important for driving business results as a whole. “I’m a firm believer that IT should have a stronger context of what the business problems are,” he said. “IT can start to understand and appreciate what the business wants and inform them that this is what technology brings. We can expand the problem space and start thinking of solutions in a bigger and a better way.”

What the future holds for IT

As the panel wound to a close, each speaker gave thoughts on what the future holds for IT and its role in shaping the digital workplace. For some, it was greater agility and responsibility for realizing key business goals. “I think going forward, IT will be expected to deliver high quality resident products with lower cost and fast time to market,” Jain concluded. For Chopra, the future will involve IT “having its ears to the ground and really listening to your employees and understanding their needs.”

Srivastava took a larger view, one that the panel as a whole agreed with. “This is the best time to be in IT,” he said. “In one word, the future is bright.”

To learn more about how IT is shaping the digital workplace, watch the full Guide session below: