WWT CEO: 5 Big IT Trends And Leadership Advice For 2023

World Wide Technology CEO Jim Kavanaugh explains to CRN his leadership advice and the big IT trends solution providers should focus on for 2023.

World Wide Technology’s fearless leader, Jim Kavanaugh, has experienced many periods of economic uncertainty and IT disruptions in his 32 years as CEO of solution provider powerhouse WWT.

His $15 billion St. Louis-based company is gearing up its more than 8,000 employees for a big push in 2023 to help customers digitally transform their business despite any macroeconomic uncertainties ahead.

“When you step back, you look at inflation and challenges relative to the stock market. One of the ways that we’re going to combat inflation and rising interest rates is by leveraging technology more effectively,” said Kavanaugh in an interview with CRN.

[Related: The 10 Biggest AWS News Stories Of 2022]

IT Challenges In 2023

If there’s one thing Kavanaugh knows for sure, it’s that company leaders of all shapes of sizes will need to continue to evolve their hybrid workforce strategy.

“Any employee that has the ability to do their job in a more virtual mode, those employees want that flexibility and latitude,” said Kavanaugh, who has embraced remote working for employees where it makes sense. “Whether CEOs want to bring everybody back and mandate that, I just don’t know if that’s going to work.”

Kavanaugh is bullish about WWT’s capabilities and the opportunity to drive workforce transformation strategies for customers in 2023.

World Wide Technology is placing its biggest sales growth bet in 2023 on digital transformation services as customers demand more IT efficiency and less complexity, especially during times of economic uncertainty.

“When you look at inflation and just the macroeconomic things that are going on, it’s causing a lot of organizations and leaders to pause in regard to, ‘What are we doing around budgets and funding?’ said Kavanaugh. “We’re excited to tackle this next year and help our customers solve these big challenges.”

In his interview with CRN, Kavanaugh provides his leadership insight, what he sees as the customer IT trends next year and what solution providers should double down on in 2023.

Help Customers Leverage IT More Effectively To Combat Inflation

When I look at the market today, there’s a lot of things going on and a lot to be excited about. But there’s also a lot of uncertainty in regard to the macroeconomic issues that are happening.

When you step back, you look at inflation and challenges relative to the stock market. One of the ways that we’re going to combat inflation and rising interest rates is by leveraging technology more effectively.

Organizations can get scale out of technology. Organizations that are able to find those areas that they’re able to digitize their business and find better scaling capabilities are able to compete better in these challenging times.

[For example], you look at workforce transformation. Everybody’s trying to figure out what is the optimal structure to create collaboration and integration.

Customers are wanting to do it in a way that is simple and easy to interconnect to multiple platforms, easy to use for their customers and their executives, but create that optimal experience for employee engagement and how they engage with their customers. It needs to be easy.

So [IT] helps organizations really work through those integration and interoperability complexities with next-generation functionality.

Integrating Advisory, Data And Software Development Teams Is Key

Customers want general resources at the lowest cost possible to support them, but they also want specific subject matter experts when there’s specific initiatives around cybersecurity or big data or digital transformation projects or anything involving software and design.

When I see those things coming together, it’s about the convergence of the infrastructure folks to connect with the consultants and advisers that are working with the customers on the outcomes. Then bringing in the software developers to help bridge any gap.

So there’s a multitude of advisory capabilities, design capabilities, and then the actual people writing the code and building the infrastructure. Those are things happening more frequently, the need to have that interoperability.

For example, almost every app that we build has data and focuses on the importance of data.

So our big data team is integrated with our advisers and our software developers. Because in every case when we’re building those apps, there is a component of analytics that needs to be part of that and needs to be an iterative part.

Mandating Back-To-Office In 2023: ‘I Just Don’t Know If That’s Going To Work’

The transition due to the impact of COVID is not about workforce resignation, it’s more about this massive global workforce transformation that’s happening right in front of us.

You’re going to have to deal with it whether you want to or not. There are organizations that would like to have all their employees back.

Any employee that has the ability to do their job in a more virtual mode, those employees want that flexibility and latitude.

Whether CEOs want to bring everybody back and mandate that, I just don’t know if that’s going to work.

You as a leader and as an organization—whether in tech or outside tech—you’ve got to figure out the right way to manage and lead your people and your company. How to motivate them to create a great culture, to create employee engagement, and create a place that people want to come in and work and want to stay.

To make that work, it’s got to be integrated with technology. So how do you create that great experience with technology? It’s about literally leveraging technology and in-person things to figure out how you do it. We as leaders have to figure it out.

Digital Transformation Will Be A Top Priority For Customers In 2023

Every company has to be thinking about how they’re going to digitize their business. They just need to.

If you don’t, you’re putting yourself in a real precarious position.

You’re going to leave yourself open if you’re not challenging yourself at the board and executive level in regard to what you’re doing around digitizing your business, disrupting your own business, and thinking about new ways of going to market and new ways of creating great customer experiences. Also scaling out your business by leveraging technology.

They’re going to potentially put themselves in a challenging situation if they don’t.

I see that happening in different stages in companies and in every vertical market—whether it’s public sector and federal government, health-care organizations, financial services, fast food, retail—you name it. They all have to be doing that.

Transformation Will Boost The Customer Experience

I met with a CEO and his executive team last night for dinner around a credit union. This customer is really moving toward a very virtual environment, eliminating physical buildings and physical locations and building out a virtual capability to digitize their customer experience.

That involves building out their network, building out their data center and building out their customer experience.

So we’re working with them on the IT infrastructure piece to help them make sure that they build that and it can actually scale, grow and handle the needs as they continue to grow at a fairly rapid rate.

They’re really doubling down at the CEO level and the board level to the CIO, CTO and the lines of business, around the customer experience.

How do they continue to enhance the digitization of the customer experience to create a more cost-efficient model?

So they’re trying to drive down the cost of operating their business and what kind of physical buildings they need to drive that enhanced customer experience to make it easy for their customers to get signed on, engage, get the services, the loans, with the right technology and digital platforms provide that level of functionality.