Looking at 2018 from the Eyes of the Indian CIO

Digital Transformations will be continuous agenda for Enterprises in 2018 as we take a look at the year gone by, challenges faced, technology plans, projects and expectations from partners and vendors in 2018 for the Indian CIO.

Digital Transformations gathered steam and spearheaded all projects across organizations and verticals in 2017 to become the biggest norm in enterprise technology plans. IT Decision makers witnessed increased involvement of the board in technology related decisions and likewise saw their roles evolve from the organization’s technocrats to critical business and growth drivers. IT finally became business and with it changed perceptions of seasoned business leaders and influenced areas and avenues that were yet unchartered in terms of technology enablement. This recent digitization of the Indian enterprise segment coincided and can be partially credited to the ongoing transformation of the country as a whole when Digital Platforms and paperless working environments are being quickly embraced by Governments and PSUs, Smart City initiatives are beginning with deployments and the mobile internet and smart phone revolution that has quite literally redefined the approach of customers, with it forcing transformations in business operations and marketing approaches as well.


The internet economy, coupled with the latest technology elixirs like Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, third platform technologies like SMAC, Cognitive Computing, and Robotics and Automation are being analyzed, understood, experimented and deployed in all kinds of business processes from back end and marketing operations, to product engineering, R&D and supply chains. Enterprises have been competing and collaborating at the same time towards redefining their businesses in sync with evolving customer demands and perceptions. Customer experience, as an example, is an area which has been totally redefined by technology and the amount of customer data now at leverage to corporations. Governments and organizations are able to improve services and process efficiencies across a number of areas. Several organizations have started hiring spree specifically targeted at increasing their IT skill set and a number of new roles have evolved like the Chief Digital Officer and Risk and Compliance Officer. CIOs and similar designations are no more just looking after the internal and external IT of their organizations, but are coming to the forefront as innovators redefining products and services, thus becoming primary torchbearers for the future success of their organizations.

With 2017 already in the history books and 2018 just heating up towards full engine efficiency, the Indian CIO has been a busy man, wearing multiple caps and spearheading projects in different areas of the organizations, at the same time able managing the existing infrastructure and regulating non-critical tasks. Apart from the added work pressure, now these CIOs face an additional pressure from the CEO, CFO and Company Board of Directors who now seek direct answers and advisory from the CIO on how to take the organization forward.

Looking back at 2017

The Indian CIO had a challenging yet exciting 2017. A number of new technologies were played with as organizations started digital transformation journeys focusing on business benefits and specific areas that could be improved with IT. Forming digital strategies was a common highlight for most of the industry. Organization as a whole started talking about technology and exploring use cases on how to leverage digitization for business benefit.. Digital transformation in enterprises touched across different areas like Business Process Automation, Enterprise IT Security Framework, Collaborations, Datacenter, IT Innovations, Cloud Computing, Mobility and consolidation of IT Infrastructure. The CIOs were busy in forming Digital Transformation Strategies & IT Road map and initiated projects on Digital Transformation in different silos. Though challenging, the year was fruitful for Enterprises with a number of novel projects.


When talking about cybersecurity, it can be said that 2017 was a havoc year in terms of attacks and created a mass scale operation of revamping security approaches for organizations, something which we will discuss in details further down the story. Enterprises increased focus was towards ensuring that the right controls are in place to protect data and prevent breaches. Another major technology trend of 2017 was the shift to the hybrid cloud model which will continue and even spread across organizations and verticals as organizations prepare for a digital future by upgrading our infrastructure to a hybrid cloud model.

Challenges to overcome

The change of year doesn’t change much in terms of the role as Digital transformation is an ongoing process. However some key challenges were noted which were more or less similar across the community. Among the major concerns and challenges faced by the Indian CIO in 2017 was cybersecurity, just like everywhere else in the world. CIOs had a hard time keeping the multitude of ransomware attacks and breaches at bay. This grew even more critical with the multiple ongoing projects around digital transformation, which in turn simultaneously opened more doors for such attacks. This was coupled with the dearth of skill set and knowledge, a constant problem at the core of India’s IT Infrastructure. Worth mentioning would be challenges when moving from legacy to software defined architecture and adoption of Hybrid IT model.


“Information Security in Networked Environment and upgrading the IT Infrastructure to meet the ever growing requirements were the biggest challenges in 2017.”

Srinivasarao Muppaneni
Group CIO
Andhra Pradesh and Telangana State and Central Cooperative Banks


“2017 was challenging, but we managed everything on time. However, one challenge that we still have is connecting all technologies on one platform and orchestrating them.”

Vilas Pujari
ACG Worldwide


“ERP management and security constraints came around as challenges however we worked on and resolved the security issues this year itself.”

Bipradas Bandyopadhyay
Zuari Infraworld

As data grew leaps and bounds and scalability and agility came around as crucial differentiators, network revamp and storage problems came to the forefront. Issues revolved around Data Lakes, Cloud, lack of open source competitive alternatives and a lack of indigenous solutions in the market. In 2017, security came to the forefront as customer focus, engagement, agile applications grew more essential. IT became a topic of board room discussions. With this evolution of IT, consolidation of IT and connecting all technologies, a vital part of digital transformation, came around as a challenge for some enterprises unifying their IT and enabling orchestration on a single platform. With the surge in Data, Data Lake, DR implementation on cloud, Storage, protection of data and network from ransomware attacks were big headaches for CIOs. In the domestic IT landscape, there is a general observed lack IT knowledge in trends such as IoT, industry 4.0 and Cloud. There is also a lack of indigenous solutions which culminates in solutions that are originally developed from the Western perspective and then tweaked for India context.


“One particular challenge that we faced in 2017 was that open source competitive alternatives were not available for most common utilities.”

Gyan Prakash
DGM – Operations & Maintenance
Hofincons Infotech & Industrial Services


“Major challenges were security and technology adaptation but we expect our technology vendors to provide secure technology with focus on automation in 2018.”

Anil M Singh
Head IT
Inox Air Products


“Enterprise Connectivity, cybersecurity & threats like ransomware were some of the key challenges which came up to counter during the year.”

Anand Ruhela
IT Head

Increased demand for emerging technologies AI, RPA and Data Analytics; buying for hybrid cloud model and threats to business through data loss; coupled with infrastructure changes due to transformation were major issues of 2017. The growth in competition leading to the need for constant innovation and disruption was another big responsibility that fell on the shoulders of the CIO.


“2017 challenges were substandard level of understand for manufacturing IT, lack of knowledge in industry 4.0, and the fact that IT team still functioned in old approach for IT lifecycle.”

Manoj Sawant

Expectations from Technology Vendors

The 2018 CIO looks at the vendors and expects true technology partners. With transformations forming the guiding lights for businesses, the organizations demand from IT is far bigger than ever. The room for error has reduced and there can be no leverage in the highly insecure and competitive environment today. Moreover, the major part of business productivity and lies on the shoulders of IT Teams which putts far greater pressure on the shoulder of the CIOs. It is indeed challenging times for CIOs across industries, trying to find their roots in digital transformation.


“My technology vendors are no longer vendors – they are our partners and so the expectations are not just project delivery – it is on time, error proof, quick, easy to use, scalable and progressive delivery.”

Priya Dar
Godfrey Phillips India


“My chief expectation from vendors is to provide support for POC’s, run Business Change management and support us in rapid implementations.”  

Milan Kumar
Global CIO


“Vendors should focus on creating solutions suited to Indian businesses rather than solutions for the west adapted to fit in Indian context.”

Sunil Kumar
Mynd Solutions

The vendor needs to emerge as a true partner to the CIO in enabling the fullest potential of Digital for the organization. The vendors should understand needs of the CIO and contribute more as a partner helping the CIO find the best solutions rather than only selling their products. The CIO expects the vendor to climb up the value chain and act as true partner in solve business challenges together rather than doing what is told like a traditional vendor. The norm in 2018 for the technology vendors is to be business enablers and work like partners with CIOs. The expectation exceeds just plain project delivery. It is now support for POC’s, rapid, on-time, foolproof, agile, easy to deploy, scalable and progressive delivery. Vendors need to be more responsive, and understand business requirements, and the vitality of time to market for projects.


“Improving cost and preventing cost overruns are constant challenges when managing IT projects. We want our vendors to maintain fiduciary responsibility.”

Ajay Yadav
Head IT (North)
Arshiya Rail Infrastructure


“The vendors should understand our needs and contribute to our value chain. They should not just focus on selling their products.”

Syed Kadam Murshed
Head IT, Medica Hospitals


“Vendors should help customers in creating strategies, and deliver powerful automation and security tools.”

Shailendra Choudhary
VP & Head IT
Interarch Building Products

The CIO expects technology vendors to have a sustained commitment towards delivery of product/solutions and rapid post sales support. The vendor needs to have a solid technical knowledge right down to every contact with the customer. Vendor should not just help the CIO in containing present costs, but also ideate and together finds ways to reduce costs over the period of the relationship, thus positively impacting the organization’s bottom line. IT needs to predict technological changes and identify customer pain points. In today’s business environments, traits like prompt response, reliability, availability, agility and cost effective IT Solutions will go a long way in establishing successful technology partnerships and long term commitment on the customer end. The vendor needs to care about not just its customer, but its customer’s customer.


“Vendors should move up the value chain and act as true partner and solve business challenges together rather than as a vendor who does what is told.”

Harish Sharma CL
Group VP, Head – HR, IT & Admin
Toyota Financial Services India


“Vendors need to be more agile, understand business requirements, time to market and be technologically sounder.”

Shalabh Garg
AVP – Head of DC Services
Religare Enterprises


“Vendors need to deliver intelligence in digital transformation with high focus on Security, along with Big Data and AI going hand in hand.”

Nikhil Kumar Nigam
Associate Director – Technologies
Amity University

Technology wise, with the emerging set of transformative technologies, the CIO expects the vendors to be consistently innovative and likewise help the CIO in inculcating the same culture in his team. CIOs expect vendors to support expansion of open source with reliable security methods. They need to provide secure, cutting edge technologies with a focus on effective use emerging differentiators like, in improving customer’s processes in customer lifecycle management, Blockchain-enabled supply chain management, RPA and automation tools, implementing trends like Connected Factories, Industry 4.0 and intelligent agents like AI driven empowered for customer support services. The vendors need to better their support for security and vulnerability scenarios. Good support on the security front is vital for transformation into Digital World. No deployment can take place without high focus on Security. They need to have strong domain knowledge, and create solutions suited to Indian businesses rather than solutions for the west adapted to fit in Indian context. The vendor needs to move ahead of just being consistent in compliance with contractual obligations and needs to be more creative, more collaborative and strategy oriented.

Focus on the Cybersecurity aspect

The CIO community has no doubt about the challenges in store for 2018 with the cybersecurity menace that will surely keep on going and even increase in the coming years. Hackers are evolving faster than security solutions companies and the cyber attacks horizon is increasing. However, the CIO is upbeat about it and expects 2017 to be a lesson well taken. The CIO expects his defense to strengthen with added focus on security with organizations and Service Providers collaborating more, constantly evaluating security. The idea of the CIO is to ensure security is taken seriously. New trends and breaches are expects to emerge and have to be monitored and prevented regularly. With third platform, mobility and cloud, gone are the days of data center and parameter security. With the explosion in the boundaries of enterprise security parameter, prevention effort and systems need to be revamped. For organizational IT, the focus has shifted to cybersecurity along with Infrastructure Management and deployments. The CIO community looks forward to more rapid and better support by OEMs for security and vulnerability scenarios.


“New trends do emerge for cyber attacks and have to be monitored and prevented regularly. A quick and better support by OEMs for security and vulnerability scenarios is expected.”

Bohitesh Misra
VP – IT & BI
Simpa Networks

Quantifying this focus, the CIO community sees security engulfing a cyber chunk of the 2018 IT budget for organizations with response numbering from around 25% of total IT budget to as much as 50% inclination. This is the result of security being a topic important right to the top most level. Data security will be a major focus for every business and especially with the added focus on managing data with EUDGPR and similar guidelines, no organization can afford an attack in the coming time. Cybersecurity will drive most of the technology and product investments for 2018 as organizations progress towards Digital transformation.


“Cybersecurity in 2018 depends on the amount of preventive controls and defense mechanisms the enterprise has and how they perform a thorough risk assessment of their current security landscape.”

Meetali Sharma
Head – Risk
Compliance & Information Security

The Enterprise mindset needs to change from ‘if’ to ‘when’. The new norm in security is automation and outsourcing. CIOs expect to be more comfortable automated security and move away from legacy practices. CIOs are evaluating outsourced SOC. With a number of organizations now deploying apps on clouds which are managed by top-tier cloud service providers, the CIO now has to work less on security on a daily basis, but expects better support by OEMs with vulnerability scenarios surely expected.


“We will have a very big focus on cybersecurity as we are going for HIPPA Implementation in the coming year.”

Deepak Kalambkar
IT Head & CISO
Marvel Data Services

On the basis of learning of the past and new innovations in Cyber Security tools, the CIO is optimistic that 2018 will prove to be a better year in terms of damage to businesses. The CIOs are creating more awareness and looking for better solutions. Companies are future proofing data and educating employees about insider threat. The actual cybersecurity scenario in 2018 will depend on the amount and nature of preventive controls and defense mechanisms enterprises will have in place. CIOs know they need to rethink security in 2018 and are already performing thorough risk assessments of their security posture. The CIO community is fully aware of the cyber attack storm on its way and expects to be prepared well in advance to avoid it.


Top technologies for 2018

Digital transformation will continue in full swing across industries. Internet of Things and third platform technologies will take center stage and influence all areas of business from BI in decision making to IIOT, Connected Processes and Industry4.0 transforming production processes. A number of CIOs are already underway with projects around IoT in verticals like manufacturing, healthcare, smart cities, governance, hospitality and transportation.


“In 2018 every application and services will incorporate AI at some level which will enhance decision making, innovate business models and remake the customer’s digital experience.”

Vivek Dharia
KNP Securities


“In 2018 we are planning to consolidate infrastructure and applications with centralized monitoring and management of I.T. infrastructure to be improved upon.”

Parveen Kumar Sharma
Institute of Chartered Accountants of India

AI and machine learning will enable Intelligent Apps and Intelligent agents transforming customer interactions. The influence of Artificial Intelligence is expected to be so huge that every application and services will incorporate AI at some level, enhancing decision making, innovating business models and creating digital customer experiences. Collaboration is expected to be a norm in.


“Cybersecurity will be a big challenge in 2018 and also a big focus for us with a big part of the IT Budget going into securing our infrastructure and data.”

Arindam Singha Roy
Head IT
East India Group

Cybersecurity, quite redundantly is going to be huge and with Data Security getting more critical Governance, Risk and Compliance will come to the fore. Security is a focus for every business in 2017 and technologies relating to encryption, data recovers, coupled with security automation will be big. Automation in security will be a particularly big technology as cloud computing and open source application development is embraced and security becomes responsibility of a number of cloud service providers.


“Cyber Security, automation, digitization and governance will be more influencing this year as robotics becomes an integral part of enterprises.”

Arvind Kumar
Elior India Catering


“2018 will witness a steady traction in cloud based communications as its core advantages of simplicity and lower investment involved will attract larger customer bases to adopt the services.”

Abhijit Chatterjee
C- Zentrix

CIOs will be experimenting with a lot of emerging technologies like Cognitive Computing, RPA, Chatbots and Blockchain which are making inroads and finding a number of use cases in industrial processes, financial systems, supply chains and record management to name a few. CIOs are innovators and believe in collaboration as the best way of moving forward. In 2018, companies will move to common IT platforms in order to be more receptive to market changes and make more informed decisions.

Looking forward to a crucial year for the Indian CIO

Arguably, no project in the organization today goes towards initiation without key inputs from the CIO. It will be unfair not to mention how these guardians of the organization’s IT have evolved, welcomed these challenges and taken the opportunity of pulling the reins of their organizations with utmost capability and zeal. The CIO has grown in stature to become a parallel business head with the CEOs, and COOs of organizations, being responsible and crucial to the biggest and most major decisions in boardrooms. Their voice has become crucial and will continue to be heard more are digital transformations engulf organizations.

The CIO community has a number of projects planned and in deployment for 2018. Cloud computing and open source culture will drive collaboration and innovation in enterprises, in response driving growth. Security is going to be in news all year and the harsh reality is that a number of CIOs will bear the brunt of it. However, with 2017 coming up with sufficient warnings to awaken business as a whole, the number of security incidents resulting in major losses to businesses is expected to decrease. From the Indian Enterprise perspective, 2017 has been a great journey in terms of digital transformations, emerging technologies and exploring newer channels which can be enhanced through technology deployment. The CIOs widened their horizons to the future of IT and new ideas surfaced which will witness translation to reality in 2018.