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20 Tech Leaders’ Biggest Challenges (And How They’re Tackling Them)

Published August 29, 2023, 8:15 a.m. EST

The role of a technology leader has always been a challenging one. And now, in addition to overseeing initiatives including digital transformation and the development of new tech products and services, tech leaders are dealing with tightening budgets, hiring challenges and other issues.

Tech leaders must balance business and customer needs while staying on top of ever-moving trends. Below, 20 members of Forbes Technology Council discuss some of the biggest challenges they and their fellow tech leaders are facing and how they’re tackling them.

1. Adapting To Industry And Regulatory Changes

The biggest challenge for me is adapting to fast-paced changes in technology and regulatory compliance. To overcome it, I employ three strategies: I consume public information to stay updated and learn about innovations and changes. I engage within my organization to understand their perspectives on changes they’re tracking, and I broaden my network, to learn about what innovations they’re focused on. – Tony Allen, Recurly

2. Embracing Environmental Responsibility

One of the challenges we’re currently facing is making environmental responsibility a much bigger core value for us in the coming decades. Some of the steps we’re taking include engaging our global organization in both company-sponsored activities—for example, we participate in initiatives such as Pledge 1%—and grassroots activities. – Igor Rikalo, o9 Solutions

3. Strategic Workforce Planning

Like many other leaders, one of my top priorities is ensuring that we have the right workforce to achieve our purpose as an organization. We are, in essence, our people. Strategic workforce planning is a crucial key to navigating constant change. By looking at different possible futures and mapping our workforce plans to them, we can meet our promises to our customers, employees and communities. – Alicia Roach, eQ8

4. Successfully Implementing AI And ML Solutions

There’s a gap between the hype surrounding artificial intelligence and machine learning and the number of strategic, pragmatic leaders who can manage expectations, understand opportunities and align a strategic vision with actual implementation. While there are lots of “idea people,” there’s a shortage of leaders who have the discipline and experience to move to successful proof of concept and then scale to full deployment, within a fixed budget and timeline. – Frank JonasKenvue

5. Understanding Enterprise Supplier Risk

One challenge is breaking down the stovepipes and silos in the organization to understand the full supplier risk to the enterprise. A low risk in one area may seem innocuous, but when it’s combined with other low or medium risks, it raises the overall risk to high. Without a cyber supply chain program, the full supplier risk is unknown. Break down the silos and stovepipes by establishing a cyber supply chain program. – Christine Halvorsen, Protiviti

6. Taking A Closer Look At Generative AI

We’re taking a close look at generative AI to distinguish between the hype and the real impact, both for our own offerings and so we can counsel partners and customers looking to drive real business results with this tech. One step I’m taking is to focus on continuing the conversation about the importance of data and to stress that you can’t trust generative AI unless it’s powered by quality, governed data. – Kevin Campbell, Syniti

7. Leading A Diverse Team

One of my biggest challenges is leading people from diverse generational and cultural backgrounds. While I have my own opinions, it’s critical now, more than ever, to be sensitive to other’s thoughts and viewpoints. We won’t always agree, but if we’re kind and respectful to others, we can always communicate our way to common ground. In the end, be kind to others, and it typically works out for the best. – Lewie Dunsworth, Nuspire

8. Keeping Up With Changing Customer Needs

The shrinking life cycles of solutions are an issue. Technology is constantly evolving, and systems and solutions that once may have stuck around for years may now only be viable for months. As customer needs change, we must change with them. To overcome this, technology leaders must stay on top of industry trends and have an architectural strategy that is malleable and scalable to the needs of the business. – Alex WaddellAdobe Population Health

9. Keeping A Focus On Long-Term Value For Customers

It is always difficult to strike a balance between investing time in “excitement-generating” capabilities and others that may be less “sexy” but that will generate more value for the customer—especially with the current hype around generative AI. Keeping a focus on long-term value for the customer is crucial, especially in the current climate. – Clément Stenac, Dataiku

10. Managing Burnout Among SOC Analysts

Burnout is a huge issue in cybersecurity right now. A recent survey found that 55% of security operations center analysts have considered walking away from their jobs due to it. Organizations are struggling to hire and retain staff, which also impacts security posture. One step we’re taking to address this is working with the organization Cybermindz to raise awareness and foster more support for security pros. – Marc van Zadelhoff, Devo

11. Falling In Love With Problems Before Solutions

We must strike the right balance between innovation and customer delight. You must first fall in love with the problem and then think through the solutions new technology can enable, rather than the other way around. I am resolutely focused on our customers’ problems and offer engineers the space to prototype, learn and experiment so we can find new ways to solve them. – Ankur Sinha, Remitly

12. Freeing Up Time For Adaptation And Team Empowerment

The biggest issue we’re facing today is the lack of time. Tracking updates and evolutions in technology, dealing with a widening skills gap, expanding security and fraud requirements and so on requires the dedication of a limited resource. Finding ways to adapt means empowering the team and expanding educational opportunities to free up that most precious of resources needed to strategically manage a business: time. – Len Covello, Engage People Inc.

13. Optimizing Workflows With AI

Like many tech leaders, I’m keeping a keen eye on the effects of generative AI on our products and business, which we’re adapting to capitalize on that once-in-a-generation technology. Ever dedicated to raising the efficiencies and effectiveness of employees and customers alike, I’ve asked our team to assess how, with the proper controls and governance in place, we can optimize workflows with AI. – Darren Guarnaccia, Uniform DXCP

14. Defining The Roles Of CIO And CTO

Running debates about the responsibilities of a CIO versus a CTO are muddying waters. The CIO should be focused on governance and cost optimization, not emerging tech, which is the responsibility of the CTO. We need these roles to be distinct, or else they may ignore the core of the business for which they were hired. Instead, we should foster partnerships between both leaders; this would be indicative of maturity in the industry. – Danny Allan, Veeam Software

15. Harnessing The Strengths Of Diverse Team Members

My biggest challenge is managing and leading diverse teams effectively. A diverse team can be a great asset, but it also presents challenges in terms of communication, collaboration and alignment on common goals. To address this, I strive to create a more cohesive and high-performing environment in which each team member’s unique strengths and perspectives are harnessed to drive innovation and success. – Zechariah Akinpelu, Unity Bank Plc

16. Navigating The New World Of Work

Without an intentional collaboration strategy, distributed working environments can lead to increased silos and slowed collaboration, negatively impacting productivity and, ultimately, the bottom line. As teams become more reliant on software as a service to stay connected, it’s crucial for SaaS platforms and apps to be as integrated and dynamic as possible. – Andy Boyd, Appfire

17. Fostering Adaptability

As a tech leader, the biggest challenge I face today is leading and coaching people to be adaptable. Think of surfing: To stay on top of a wave, leaders must constantly look and think ahead to balance risks and opportunities—in rapidly changing conditions. The waves are constant. How do we help people prepare for and navigate this new pace? – Chris Briggs, Mitek Systems

18. Responsibly Integrating AI In Business

As AI adoption accelerates, leaders today are grappling with how to responsibly integrate it across their businesses. My advice? Start by separating the technology’s value from its hype. Identify how companies are currently using AI to determine how to institute operating systems that respect privacy and data rights, while also implementing ethical guardrails that enforce accountability and transparency. – Jeff Wong, EY

19. Building A Strong Engineering Team

Building a strong engineering team is challenging. The market is highly competitive, which is why I am a big believer in growing teams from the ground up. Start hiring from colleges, and train folks early. It will take time, but the process is like building a college football team. The first day is not representative of your team’s true potential. – Raghu Bongula, ConnectWise

20. Doing More With Less

As the global economy tightens, resources become scarce, yet CISOs face the same threats—if not worse ones—than before. Meanwhile, cybersecurity teams are already feeling overburdened and at risk of burnout. Balancing these headwinds requires creativity—tailwinds, including automation with the aid of AI and ML, can help. – Corey NachreinerWatchGuard Technologies Inc.

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