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5 priorities for digital leaders in 2024

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Five technology priorities for digital leaders in 2024.

Five technology priorities for digital leaders in 2024. Image: Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

Kimmy Bettinger
Expert & Knowledge Communities Lead, C4IR
This article is part of: World Economic Forum Annual Meeting
  • We asked chief digital officers from diverse industries about their priorities for technology leadership in 2024.
  • These digital leaders highlighted the need to align technology initiatives with business goals and think strategically about the importance of human capital.
  • To cut costs and streamline operations, there’s a need to shift from testing the waters with AI to widespread implementation.

In the face of a challenging economic landscape and technology disruption, we asked chief digital officers from diverse industries about their priorities for technology leadership in 2024. They highlighted the need to align technology initiatives with business goals and think strategically about the importance of human capital.

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In 2024, businesses are focused on cutting costs and streamlining operations. They're shifting from testing the waters with artificial intelligence (AI) to widespread implementation to help them achieve these goals, potentially bringing big changes in how companies are structured and how they interact with customers.

Yet, with the swift rise of generative AI, leaders must also recognize the value of staying flexible and adaptable when it comes to integrating technology into their business models, and develop approaches that prioritize the role of people in information curation and utilize innovations like policy as code.

‘Simplification and digitalization’

John Schultz, Executive Vice President & Chief Operating & Legal Officer, Hewlett Packard Enterprise

Against the backdrop of economic uncertainty, the buzz around generative AI provides a golden opportunity to focus their people on higher value functions. Most enterprises have unnecessary human interventions built into processes that are a poor use of human capital. The challenge, however, is convincing leaders to have the courage to embrace the future over the familiar and implement the changes necessary to simplify and digitalize their operations. In so doing, they can also begin to direct their efforts on using AI to augment human intelligence so that people can make better decisions faster.

‘Digital safety first’

Jill Crisman, Executive Director, DSRI, UL Research Institutes

As many industries are modernizing and integrating AI, addressing safety risks associated with digital technologies has never been more important. Measuring and mitigating risks sooner, allows businesses to adopt and produce better, safer digital services.

We are developing techniques to measure the costs of digital risks, especially those emerging from AI. The AI Incident Database indexes the collective history of AI harms, which enables industry to learn from experience to help prevent future bad outcomes. By considering safety ahead of adoption and release of digital services, we can together build a safer digital ecosystem for everyone.

‘Aligning data initiatives with business goals’

Vladimir Lukic, Global Leader of Technology and Digital Advantage Practice, Boston Consulting Group

GenAI remains a hot topic. Organizations will need to move fast and excel at harnessing their own data, information and knowledge holistically. In this sense, GenAI is a wonderful catalyst for CDOs to elevate some perpetual data challenges (e.g., lack of governance, quality) and make a case for action. Part of this will be educating the C-suite on what it truly means to be a data driven company – essentially, the “Business management” of the data side. We will continue to see business and IT coming closer together. Aligning data initiatives with business goals, fostering a data-driven culture, and promoting cross-functional collaboration will be a priority and what is critical to achieving success.


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‘Enabling humans for quality information’

James Kugler, CEO of EMD Digital, Merck KGaA

Over the last 40 years, information distribution became easier, faster, freer. In the last 10 years, information creation became easier, faster and we even paid people to share it. We created, consumed and transmitted more content than ever before. What this left us with is a lot of noise. Noise that we cannot digest.

Going into 2024, noise has become limitless in the hands of machines. As companies rush to invest in the next LLM initiative, they risk shortchanging what will matter most in the age of AI: humans. Humans determine quality. And the quality of information fueling AI will determine its ultimate value. To innovate and deliver at speed in this new age, leaders should invest in enabling humans with systems that enhance information transparency, traceability and verification. By doing so, we can fully harness the potential of disruptive technology to drive progress.

‘Transforming data into value’

Ivan Herrero, Chief Data Officer, Intercorp

As we continue to navigate an uncertain economic landscape, it is crucial to leverage every asset of our companies to successfully ride the waves ahead. Understanding and unlocking the value of data, and harnessing AI and machine learning to optimize outcomes will become both a goal and a test of the maturity of these capabilities.

Ensuring permanent alignment from the strategic goals of the company all the way down to the execution is only possible by deploying operating models that enable:

  • Rigorous prioritization, moving from tactical to strategic initiatives;
  • Assessing the efficiency of the Data and Analytics teams and improving it constantly;
  • Integrating Data and Analytics teams within functional areas, in search for common goals; and,
  • Measuring and promoting the adoption of the data products by functional areas (the value materializes only with action).

Bringing consistency to these processes will surely catalyze the transformation of data into tangible value both for our companies and the families that we serve.

Related topics:
Forum InstitutionalEmerging TechnologiesLeadership
‘Simplification and digitalization’‘Digital safety first’‘Aligning data initiatives with business goals’‘Enabling humans for quality information’‘Transforming data into value’

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