The Covid-19 pandemic has become a watershed event in all aspects of the world. Due to social distancing regulations and nationwide blockades, the use of digital technology has inevitably increased. The lockdown causes most people to use the Internet and Internet-based services at home to communicate, interact and continue their work responsibilities. The global pandemic has taken us into a future in which digital channels and collaboration platforms are the main means of connecting with customers, partners and employees, and often the only means. Compared with the level before the lockdown, the utilization rate of Internet services has risen from 40% to 90%.
According to the 2021 CIO Agenda report of Gartner, “During the Covid-19 lockdown, many CIOs helped save their enterprises. They now have the attention of the CEO in a way they did not have before.” The pandemic has illustrated the importance of IT to all organizations and the critical role that CIOs play in managing our remote working methods and business success. Although CIOs faced a series of challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these challenges have allowed them to play a greater leadership role in redefining the future of the business.
IT management consultant and executive coach Bob Kantor states “What I do think the pandemic has done is clarified and incented more CIOs to get on board with being business leaders, and not just technology leaders”. While that is one of the most fundamental ways in which the role has changed, there are a few other changes in the CIO roles. Let us take a look at how the roles of CIO have been redesigned.
Healthier Relationship with the Business Side
According to a Gartner survey, 66% of CIOs said they had strengthened their relationship with CEOs due to the pandemic, while 80% of CIOs said they were educating CEOs and other senior leaders about the value of IT. While traditionally CIO roles were confined to the technology projects, with the advent of digital transformation and adoption of digital technologies, CIO now need to work closely with the business side of things to drive the business in the new digital era.
Turn the 2020 Disruptions into Business Opportunities
It is a fact that most digital innovations have occurred in the past 6-12 months compared to the past decade. Most CIOs leveraged the disruptions of 2020 into newer opportunities to drive business growth. In 2021, the pressure will be on these CIOs to maintain the positive outlook, continue converting disruptions into innovative opportunities and look for new ways to make a positive impact on the bottom line.
Look for Initiatives to Make High Impact
The proliferation of IoT with the boom of technologies Cloud, AI/ML, AR/VR, Digital Twin, Agile, DevOps has accelerated the total investment and expenditure of organizations. CIOs must now more than ever play a key role alongside business decision-makers to develop an organization’s roadmap to identify and execute initiatives that can have a significant impact while staying abreast of the latest trends, and proactively adopting technologies to ensure agility and flexibility, come what may.
Set-up Teams with Remote Employees
Forrester’s prediction for IT employees working from home is that remote work will reach 300% of pre-COVID levels. Pandemic has given CIOs a much larger pool of potential job applicants and they can now easily benefit from highly skilled staff from remote towns/cities at comparatively lower costs. The job market is expected to become more competitive given the remote work of nature and wider spectrum of skilled resources.
Deliver More Products and Services Digitally
Even with people resuming their offices post lockdown in a phased manner, there is still a section of the society which will be permanently work from home. For this section, the biggest challenge for the businesses is identifying means to deliver them products and services digitally. As per a Forrester report, it is expected that in 2021 a majority of all the organizations will adopt digital transformation to some extent to enable technology fueled experiences, operations, products and services to its end users.
Agility will soon resonate with success. Agility is what will set the successful CIOs apart from others in 2021. Organizations with CIOs who are less agile will face major challenges such as higher rate of employee attrition, limitations to tech modernization, lesser talent pool for hiring, losing peer advantage, no real time visibility to data, delay in moving infrastructure to cloud, too much of unnecessary paperwork and more. Agile CIOs will realize the importance of moving to Cloud, automating IT and business operations, flexibility in remote work to stay competitive in their space.
Wear an ‘Extended HR’ Hat
CIOs have worked closely with HR more than ever during the pandemic to maintain the team’s morale, keep them happy and reduce turnover. CIOs focused on employee experience will help their firms attract, develop, and retain talent to provide competitive advantage in the coming years. Greater use of automation will help employees avoid less meaningful tasks and focus more on strategic and innovative work resulting in increased overall productivity.
Cyber-Security skill set is No More an Option
Gone are the days when you could outsource your cyber-security to an outsider firm and be rest assured. With more remote work, cybersecurity incidents, phishing attacks, virus attacks, cyber scams have increased exponentially in the pandemic. It is up to the CIOs to not only be well informed about the various possible attacks but also to make the entire team aware of these attacks to prevent any business, personal, financial or confidential loss of property.
Business Continuity Plan is the Most Crucial Survival Tool
ISO 9001, ISO 27001, CMMI certifications can ensure that you have a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) in place on paper. Pandemic made all the theoretical practices to practical use. Even CMMI and ISO certified organizations had not accounted for ‘Covid-19’ in one of the external factors that might affect their business, potentially bring it to a stand-still. ISO and CMMI certified or not, it is now of paramount importance that the CIOs prepare not only their IT teams but the entire organization’s pandemic proof. Adopt and implement ways that facilitate business continuity with minimal time required to switch between your models.
In the next few years, investment in accelerating digital business transformation will be the top priority. The areas of this investment include cloud computing, edge computing, applications of IoT, AI/ML, AR/VR and Digital Twin with the customers being the point of focus.
If you too are an IT leader looking for digital solutions to elevate end user experience leveraging emerging digital technologies; cloud operations and migration services and support, contact us today. Pratiti Technologies is a unique Digital Product Development and Solutions company that enables innovation driven digital transformation by leveraging our deep expertise in digital technologies such as IoT, Digital Twin, Cloud Computing, Edge Computing, Data Science & Analytics as well as AR/VR.