CIO SA tech news round-up: Foundry’s 2023 State of the CIO study: The most in-demand IT skills in 2023, US regulator sues crypto firm Binance, Gartner study finds data teams fall short of delivering value, and more

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Foundry’s 2023 State of the CIO study: the most in-demand IT skills in 2023

While organisations continue to struggle to find seasoned talent in critical skill areas, they aren’t prioritising talent acquisition strategies as much as they used to. Improving talent acquisition and retention strategies did not even make the top 10 most important business initiatives driving IT investment, and were mentioned by only 17 percent of respondents – and only slightly more in education, financial services, and health care organisations.

Nonetheless, economic challenges are having an impact on prioritising talent acquisition practices – 41 percent of IT leaders said they were ramping up, while 44 percent said they would maintain current efforts. Only 10 percent said that improving talent acquisition/retention was a lower priority than in the past.

As IT departments look to fill critical skill gaps, they are focusing on modernisation and transformation, via technology integration/implementation (42 percent), IT cloud architecture (40 percent), and risk/security management (36 percent). Manufacturing (50 percent) and financial services (51 percent) are the industries most in need of integration and implementation expertise, while risk/security management remains a higher priority for those in education (54 percent) and health care (50 percent).

Soft skills are another area where IT organisations are looking to improve. IT leaders want professionals with experience in project management (31 percent), change management (29 percent), and strategy development/mapping out a digital business plan (25 percent). A quarter of IT leaders cited business relationship management skills as desirable. Not surprisingly, line of business (LOB) respondents had a different perspective on what is required to support digital business initiatives: customer experience management (31 percent), project management (29 percent), and financial/cost management (27 percent).

IT leaders expect to hire in a few key areas over the next six to 12 months, most notably cybersecurity (39 percent), application development (30 percent), and data science/analytics (30 percent). AI/machine learning skills are in high demand, according to 26 percent of respondents, as are DevOps/DevSecOps and agile experience (24 percent).

US Commodity Futures Trading Commission sues Binance

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) charged cryptocurrency giant Binance and its founder and CEO, Changpeng Zhao, on Monday with operating an “illegal” exchange and a “sham” compliance programme, according to the regulator.

Binance, Changpeng, and its former top compliance executive were charged by the CFTC with “wilful evasion” of US law, “while engaging in a calculated strategy of regulatory arbitrage to their commercial benefit,” said Rostin Behnam, chairman of the CFTC.

Changpeng responded, calling the CFTC’s complaint unexpected and disappointing.

“Upon an initial review, the complaint appears to contain an incomplete recitation of facts, and we do not agree with the characterisation of many of the issues alleged in the complaint,” he said in a statement.

Binance, through a spokesperson, said that it will co-operate with regulators in the future. Binance has made significant investments to ensure that its platform does not have any US users.

The CFTC is in charge of overseeing commodity and derivatives markets, including Bitcoin. Firms such as brokers that facilitate US customers’ trading of such products are required to register with the agency, and the organisation accuses Binance of failing to meet the standards expected of a company that operates as a derivatives market, and deals with major US trading firms.

Gartner study reveals data teams are coming short in delivering value

According to the latest Gartner survey, less than half of data and analytics (D&A) leaders (44 percent) reported that their team is effective in providing value to their organisation. In addition, chief data and analytics officers (CDAOs) must focus on presence, persistence and performance to succeed in their role and deliver measurable business results.

“D&A is in the business of driving stakeholder value,” said Donna Medeiros, senior director analyst at Gartner. “The most successful CDAOs are outperforming their peers by projecting an executive presence and building an agile and strategic D&A function that shapes data-driven business performance and operational excellence.”

The survey was conducted online from September through November 2022 among 566 D&A leaders globally. Gartner analysts are discussing the survey findings and how CDAOs can drive business value during the Gartner Data & Analytics Summit, taking place in Orlando through Wednesday.

The survey found that D&A leaders who rated themselves as “effective” or “very effective” across 17 different executive leadership traits correlated with those reporting high organisational and team performance. For example, 43 percent of top-performing D&A leaders reported effectiveness in committing time to their own professional development, compared with 19 percent of low performers.

The survey also found that CDAOs are tasked with a broad range of responsibilities, including defining and implementing D&A strategy (60 percent), oversight of D&A strategy (59 percent), creating and implementing D&A governance (55 percent) and managing data-driven culture change (54 percent).

Furthermore, many D&A functions are receiving increased investment, including data management (65 percent), data governance (63 percent) and advanced analytics (60 percent). The mean reported D&A budget is $5.41 million, and 44 percent of D&A teams increased in size in the last year.

Lastly, 78 percent of respondents rank corporate or organisational strategy and vision as one of the top three inputs to the D&A strategy. Additionally, 68 percent are prioritising D&A initiatives based on alignment to strategic goals.

Suhail Surajpal launches app that offers shoppers additional security

Suhail Surajpal, a 17-year-old matric learner and Glenwood (Durban) resident, has launched Community Corner, a new community marketplace platform that uses advanced artificial intelligence algorithms and machine-learning technology to protect buyers and sellers from fraud and scams. The platform is expected to launch on 1 April online and as an app.

“In South Africa, scammers commonly use marketplace platforms to prey on unsuspecting individuals who are simply trying to buy or sell something. Having experienced that first-hand, I developed Community Corner to not just alleviate those concerns but to also drastically reduce the possibility of it happening,” he said.

Community Corner is available online and on a mobile app. Users would need to launch the app/website before proceeding to search or browse for products or services they’re looking for – similar to how you shop on Gumtree or Facebook Marketplace.

It is also free to use for individuals and small businesses in the community; however, large businesses will have to pay a fee to gain access to certain features such as listing insights, 24-hour support, and customised filter options, among other things.

The app runs through Authenticate AI,a piece of software Surajpal created.

“Authenticate AI works by collecting data from two sources – the first being behavioural data from the device or account you’re using, commonly known as ’cookies’, and the second source being various e-commerce storefronts as well as credit card payment gateways who collectively form our partner network. It then employs machine-learning technology to evaluate identifiable data attributes and compares them to users’ previous transactions on any other online store that employs a piece of software, a plugin, or a service from those on our network,” he explained.

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