The role of IT is changing with the onset of the customer-driven age and the now digital, connected world. IT leaders, once focused purely on technology operations, are now at the helm of business innovation. “Today, we are seeing a marked shift in the conversations happening with the CIO. Instead of talking about the latest bell-and-whistle, it is increasingly more apt to involve topics about business enablement and growth,” says Tim Crawford, CIO Strategic Advisor, AVOA. Crawford will share more insights on the shifting IT climate during an upcoming live webcast with Salesforce’s head of research.

In the “2016 State of IT” report, Salesforce Research surveyed over 2,200 IT leaders and CIOs to discover how their organizations have been impacted by this shift and which strategies top performers are using to stay ahead. Based on the findings, here are five trends that are shaping the future of the IT industry:

1. Digital Transformation: Apps, Mobile and the CDO

Nearly every organization across the globe has been shaken by digital transformation while IT leaders race to leap ahead of new customer expectations and behaviors. As a result, app development has become central to IT strategy. Seventy-nine percent of IT teams are developing apps for customers, partners and employees. And, nearly 90% of new apps launching in the next 12–18 months will be created with a mobile-first mindset.

As the core roles of IT become more customer-centric, so does leadership. The chief digital officer (CDO), a position that specializes in knowledge of customer and digital trends, was a role scarcely heard of just ten years ago. Today, sixty percent of companies employ a CDO.

2. The Skills Gap is Widening

As digital dominates, new skills are needed for IT teams to compete. Technology evolves rapidly and it can be challenging to keep employees up to speed. One-third of IT leaders rate keeping skills current with emerging tech and trends as a top pain point. Top performing companies are responding with increased investment in training and development. They are also using technologies like the cloud to help fill the gap caused by staffing new needs.

3. Cloud Adoption Supports Quick Innovation

High-performing IT teams are turning to the cloud to help support increasing development demands. Cloud services allow companies to offload data management, backend development and even design so that their talent can focus on innovation. Eighty-percent of those developing in the cloud say they are working primarily on projects that will transform the business.

4. Data Security is a Top Priority

While IT teams turn to technology to help innovate faster, data security becomes a top priority. It’s difficult to improve security efforts when technology is updating so rapidly. This is likely why top performers rely on the cloud services to ensure data security since the cloud can update security features regularly, in real-time, and without maintenance burden on the IT organization. Seventy-two percent of high performers trust storing core infrastructure data on a public cloud,

5. Emerging Tech Leads the Way

IT leaders are thinking about emerging tech in order to get out ahead of future trends. Sixty-percent of IT leaders rate predictive analytics as absolutely critical/very important over the next 5-8 years and 58% rate Internet of Things (IoT) the same. Increased investments in business strategy emerging tech shows that IT leaders are focused on being able to develop faster and more securely. Use of custom software with a microservice architecture is anticipated to grow 96%.

Want to learn more about the five trends that are altering the IT industry? Click below to register for the upcoming live webcast on 3/29 at 8:30am PDT:  See Where IT is Going: Master the 5 Trends. with Tim Crawford, CIO Strategic Advisor at AVOA, and Peter Gaylord, Head of Salesforce Research.