Discover the evolving role of the CIO after Covid-19. Chief Information Officers (CIOs) have always been aware of the key role they play in their organisation’s success. Others were not so convinced. No matter how commonplace concepts like digital transformation have become, a sizeable portion of today’s business world still regarded IT as a bare necessity, one of the many cogs and wheels that keep the enterprise moving forward. There was no need to know how everything works, the details, as long as it did work. That’s until COVID-19 showed up.
The sudden shift in paradigm has left companies scrambling to come up with solutions to new logistical and business model issues. Adapting normal operations to a fully remote workforce. Devising alternative ways of conducting normal operations while cutting down costs. Identifying new revenue streams. In this climate of uncertainty, a realisation has hit uninterested board members: technology is not just one of the many parts of the behemoth that is the modern enterprise – it’s the engine propelling it into the future.
IT has never been more critical to a company’s prosperity than it is now. And, as the person in charge of designing and bringing to life corporate digital strategy, the figure of the CIO is finally receiving the spotlight it deserves. But CIOs are not only facing the greatest practical challenge of their careers – their role is fundamentally changing, and it will keep on doing so.
The pandemic took many organisations by surprise, forcing IT leaders to adapt company infrastructure to support remote work and comply with safety regulations. That was the first of three stages that CIOs will have to navigate to see this crisis through. A mighty task as it is.
Some companies are still ultimating work on this initial step. Together with the C-suite and division managers, CIOs have had to take a deep look at all available resources — not only at the digital transformation strategies and tools already in place, but also at the existing talent within their team.
Covering the holes is not easy in times of dwindling budgets and company-wide cuts. CIOs have had to resort to a mix of ingenuity, agility and adaptability to find creative and efficient ways to save everyone’s day.
When it comes to talent, IT leaders have continued hiring for the most business-critical digital transformation projects: cloud, cybersecurity, digital payments, shipping logistics, etc. In addition to permanent hires, CIOs are enlisting external IT consultants as a great way of upskilling their teams.
Once the fire is out, the second step for CIOs to take is to consolidate the new measures, protocols and ways of working. CIOs are working together with HR to develop online training programs and tools that live on beyond the current crisis. They also have an important part to play in the return to the office, advising the larger organisation on how to best use digital resources to implement a process that is both safe and seamless.
As the world slowly starts going back to normal, the lessons learned from this health emergency will have severe implications on how IT is approached in the future. Rather than supporting business decisions, CIOs will have a bigger say in how companies are run — from helping companies develop a more adaptable work culture, to being a decisive factor in defining new business strategies.
This is the third and last stage in the journey towards a more relevant and recognised CIO. The novel coronavirus has only sped up what was already bound to happen. IT leaders are now in the driver’s seat. Godspeed.
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