CIO role: 5 strategies for success in 2023

From implementing zero trust to managing a multi-cloud environment, these five IT strategies will help ensure that your organization stays competitive in the coming year
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The past few years have brought unprecedented changes to the business and tech landscape, and CIOs have had to adapt quickly to these shifts. As we begin the new year with continuing uncertainty, it’s more important than ever to have a clear plan to secure your workforce and position your organization for success, no matter what may come.

Here are five strategies that savvy CIOs should implement in the coming year:

1. Implement a zero trust strategy

As cybersecurity becomes increasingly important, many organizations are turning to a zero trust security model to protect their systems and data. Zero trust assumes that all users and devices are potentially malicious and requires them to authenticate and authorize all access to applications and data.

While many companies are in the process of implementing a zero trust model, there are many more that have stalled or have yet to get started. In 2023, prioritize the implementation of a zero trust architecture to ensure the security of your entire organization.

In larger organizations, it may be helpful to appoint a “chief zero trust officer" or another expert to oversee the implementation across the enterprise. Empowering a dedicated leader to coordinate and execute the strategy can ensure a successful zero trust rollout across your organization.

[ Also read IT leadership: Top 5 challenges to expect during 2023. ]

2. Prioritize email defense

Email is the most broadly used business application. Email is the most common target for attacks, as more than 90 percent of all cyber attacks begin with a phishing email. As a CIO, you must prioritize the protection of your organization’s email systems against cyber threats.

While user education is important in preventing phishing and other types of email-based attacks, we likely need to adopt a zero trust approach to email security rather than blaming users when attacks are successful. But built-in protection offered by the big email service providers often isn’t good enough.

In the coming year, consider implementing more advanced email phishing protection to better secure your organization against these email-based attacks. Prioritizing a solid email defense will reduce the risk of a breach in 2023.

3. Protect the user

In the digital age, CIOs must ensure that their organization’s systems and data are protected against cyber threats. One powerful approach is implementing more robust authentication methods, such as phish-proof multi-factor authentication or even eliminating passwords with password-less authentication. These strategies can help to reduce the risk of unauthorized access and protect against attacks.

In addition, consider implementing remote browser isolation to provide an additional layer of protection for users when accessing the Internet. By helping users be more secure, you can protect your organization’s systems’ overall security and integrity.

4. Fully embrace hybrid work

CIOs must adapt to the changing business landscape brought on by the pandemic. With many organizations embracing hybrid work, the internet plays a more prominent role in the overall network strategy.

Ensure that your systems and processes are optimized for this new reality. This includes prioritizing the user experience of remote workers and implementing better end-user experience monitoring to ensure that they can be productive and collaborate effectively. Building a strategy that assumes remote work will help your organization stay competitive in the year ahead.

5. Manage the multi-cloud environment

As organizations increasingly adopt multi-cloud systems to manage their IT infrastructure, CIOs must be able to navigate the complexity of these environments effectively.

One approach is implementing a seamless strategy across all major clouds to streamline management and reduce complexity. Consider how you can optimize performance and apply security uniformly across your multi-cloud estate. Also, be mindful of the changing regulatory and compliance landscape and look for cloud services with built-in compliance features to minimize the burden on your teams.

As we enter a new year marked by continuing uncertainty, it’s essential to have a clear plan to secure your workforce while staying adaptable to change. Implementing a zero trust strategy, focusing on email defense, protecting users, embracing hybrid work, and effectively managing multi-cloud environments will help your organization navigate the evolving tech landscape and succeed in 2023.

[ Leading CIOs are reimagining the nature of work while strengthening organizational resilience. Learn 4 key digital transformation leadership priorities in a new report from Harvard Business Review Analytic Services. ]

John Engates joined Cloudflare in September of 2021 as Field Chief Technology Officer and is responsible for leading the Field CTO organization globally. Prior to Cloudflare, John was Client CTO at NTT Global Networks and Global CTO at Rackspace Technology, Inc.

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