How Midmarket Companies Can Leverage AI, Cloud, and Data Intelligence to Gain an Edge in 2024

Midsize companies face challenges that are unique to their growth stage, but they’re also subject to the broader market forces shaping the global economy as a whole. Amidst rising interest rates, widespread inflation, persistent supply chain disruptions, and labor shortages, there’s still a great deal of uncertainty about what the rest of 2024 will bring, though increasing numbers of experts are hopeful that the US economy may be able to achieve the much-discussed “soft landing” that the Federal Reserve has been trying to engineer.

The near-term market outlook differs across verticals, of course, and the future is never certain. Still, those businesses that adopt the right strategies now—and make wise technology investments—stand to emerge from today’s economic uncertainties stronger than ever, and far ahead of the competition in terms of revenues and growth.

This means CIOs in midmarket organizations now have a key opportunity to position the business for success, but only if they take the right approach.

What sets midsize organizations apart?

Not as cash-strapped as startups, nor as well-resourced (and typically burdened with technical debt) as major enterprises, midmarket companies occupy a distinctive space within the business world. Their size enables them to be more nimble than larger organizations, and it also allows their leaders to take a more hands-on approach.

CIOs in companies of this size often have to wear multiple hats, serving as leaders in technology, security, data privacy, and several other key aspects of operations, which requires them to have expertise that’s both broad and deep. Also, they often must work within the constraints of a limited budget, making it more difficult (though certainly not impossible) to mature the organization’s capabilities.

To succeed, these CIOs need to adopt a tailored strategy, one that balances keeping the lights on with leveraging emerging technologies like AI and automation to add efficiencies. Such efficiencies are especially important for success in companies where growth is a priority and resources are finite.

With all of the aforementioned in mind, here are the top three areas where CIOs in midsize organizations should focus their attention right now.

1. Making room for AI

Recent, rapid developments in AI’s capabilities have been discussed just about everywhere lately. Because they tend to be nimbler and more agile than larger organizations, and because there’s less red tape involved when it comes to implementing new technologies, midmarket companies have much to gain from being early adopters of these technologies.

AI is particularly valuable in areas where talent is in short supply or unaffordable. From sales and marketing to data analytics, AI can help teams be more productive, so that their employees (usually fewer in number) can achieve outsized results.

Exactly where to implement AI to deliver maximum value to the business will differ from company to company. To understand this, the CIO will need to have a seat at the table and close relationships with the rest of the C-suite. The CIO will need to understand what the CEO and other senior leaders are trying to accomplish, what unique capabilities and competencies set the business apart, and what its strategic roadmap looks like.

AI has the potential to touch nearly every area of the business. Along with automation, it can increase the efficiencies within almost any operational process, and these efficiencies can ultimately make it possible for the business to scale. Implementing AI in the right places can empower the organization to achieve much more within a limited budget, to overcome industry-wide challenges like talent scarcity, and to prepare itself to scale.

New offerings from Microsoft, including Microsoft 365 Copilot (an AI assistant that helps users make the most of Microsoft applications and services) and Copilots for other apps, empower even non-technical employees to take advantage of generative AI’s full potential within the existing Microsoft product suite. This can be a relatively simple and cost-effective way to introduce AI into your organization’s workflows.

2. Becoming data-driven

We’ve recently written about the myriad benefits of becoming a data-driven company, which include becoming more likely to surpass revenue and earnings targets as well as improved employee and customer satisfaction rates. However, most midmarket companies are still running their businesses on Microsoft Excel spreadsheets.

It’s time to change this. Implementing a fully-functional, AI-enabled analytics platform will make it possible for decision-makers across the organization to answer key operational and strategic questions on the basis of real-world evidence. This won’t happen overnight, though. Instead, the organization will have to take a step-by-step approach, one that’s built on a deep understanding of what the business needs, what kinds of data it can leverage, and what its leaders are hoping to achieve.

Advanced data analytics make it possible for stakeholders to better understand the state of the business now, but adopting these capabilities will also prepare the business to better take advantage of future growth opportunities.

3. Taking a smart approach to cybersecurity

Risk management is essential for futureproofing your organization, regardless of its size. But formulating the right cybersecurity strategy is especially important for smaller and midsize organizations that often don’t have as many resources to invest in security operations as larger enterprises, and, as a result, typically have less mature cybersecurity programs.

The CIO who can identify and eliminate the technologies and capabilities within the organization’s security stack that are clunky, resource-intensive, and challenging to operate will be well-prepared to implement newer solutions. Today’s advanced security tools take advantage of AI to create efficiencies in areas like threat hunting and incident response that have historically required a great deal of in-house expertise. Modernizing your organization’s security tool stack—or partnering with the right experts to help you achieve that aim—can enable even a resource-constrained organization to shift from a reactive approach to a proactive one—which will only become more important as threat actors further advance their capabilities.

CIOs in midsize companies can prepare their organizations for future growth by prioritizing the adoption of solutions that create new efficiencies and enable lean teams to achieve more with less. Often, this means taking advantage of technologies like AI and automation, because their potential to create value far outweighs their cost. This is what’s needed to prepare the company—and the technology foundation upon which its ability to scale up will be built—for whatever tomorrow may bring.

Interested in learning more about how Netrix helps companies of all sizes prepare for success in a fast-changing world? Contact us today.


Kevin Walter

Kevin Walter is the Sales Director, Alliance Programs and the Copilot lead at Netrix Global. He has been with Netrix for 9 years with a security background.