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Kristian Merritt, CTO - Commercial Viability, Cyber Sec and People


Article posted by Lisa Holmes

The last of our series of 3 blogs, Kristian Merritt shares his focus for 2024:

Kristian Merritt, CTO

​Today's technology landscape requires a nuanced understanding of each organisation's unique context, priorities, and challenges. Rather than offering a one-size-fits-all approach, the following tips are framed within the principles of Jim Collins' "Good to Great," recognising that all organisations aspire to achieve greatness in their own way.

Drawing upon these principles, CIOs/CTOs can chart a course for success, leveraging their strengths and opportunities to drive transformative change. Here are five of my top tips for CTOs in 2024:

1) Focus on Commercial Viability:

It's imperative for CIOs/CTOs to prioritise initiatives that align with the organisation's commercial objectives. Leveraging the Hedgehog Concept, they should identify areas where technology can create tangible value and sustainable competitive advantage. By focusing on activities that the organisation can excel at and that drive economic opportunity, CIOs/CTOs can guard against pursuing technology for its own sake and ensure that investments in innovation are strategically aligned with the business's core strengths and revenue-generating potential.

2) Prioritise Cyber and Data Security

Maintaining a robust cybersecurity posture is non-negotiable for CIOs/CTOs in 2024. Today’s landscape is rife with evolving threats and stringent regulatory requirements, security breaches can have severe consequences for both reputation and bottom line.

By instilling a culture of discipline across the organisation, emphasising adherence to security protocols, and promoting continuous vigilance, you can mitigate risks and safeguard sensitive data effectively.

Recognising that cybersecurity is not just a technological issue but also a cultural imperative, ensure that every employee understands their role in protecting the organisation from cyber threats. In doing so, it makes sleeping a little easier at night knowing that the business is fortified against potential security breaches.

3) Build the Right Team and Partnerships Globally

Assembling the right team of talented individuals and forging strategic partnerships across the globe is paramount in 2024. Adhering to the principle of "First Who, Then What," prioritise attracting and retaining top talent with diverse skill sets and cultural backgrounds, ensuring alignment with the organisation's mission and values.

Additionally, leveraging offshore technology teams in a post-COVID, remote-work environment presents new opportunities for competitiveness and innovation. By strategically selecting partners who complement the organisation's strengths and enhance its capabilities, you can establish a dynamic ecosystem of talent and expertise that drives technological excellence and accelerates global growth initiatives.

4) Lead Technology as a Driver of Business Growth

CTOs must embody Level 5 leadership qualities to effectively represent technology at the executive and board levels, positioning it as a strategic driver of business growth rather than merely an enabler.

Humility, determination, and a relentless focus on organisational success, are all part of elevating the perception that technology is creating new revenue streams and fostering product innovation.

As visionary leaders, you need to be an advocate and should champion a forward-thinking mindset that embraces technological advancements and identifies opportunities for leveraging emerging technologies to gain a competitive edge in the marketplace.

By demonstrating the transformative power of technology to fuel business growth and drive innovation, you can secure buy-in from stakeholders and pave the way for a future where technology is integral to the organisation's success.

5) Strategically Harness AI as a Technology Accelerator

We must recognise the immense potential of artificial intelligence (AI) as a catalyst for innovation and growth. However, it's crucial to approach AI adoption strategically, ensuring alignment with the organisation's core strengths and market opportunities as outlined by the Hedgehog Concept.

AI should be viewed as a technology accelerator that enhances existing capabilities, supports workforce productivity, and drives new product innovation. By identifying areas within the organisation where AI can create tangible value and aligning AI initiatives with the intersection of passion, talent, and economic opportunity, CTOs can maximise the impact of AI while avoiding the trap of pursuing technology for its own sake. This balanced approach ensures that AI investments are directed toward solving real problems and capitalising on genuine market opportunities, ultimately driving sustainable growth and success in 2024 and beyond.

By embracing these principles and tailoring their approach to the unique needs of their organisations, CIOs/CTOs can navigate the complexities of the tech landscape in 2024 and drive their organisations from good to great.