In 2020, CIOs put on their hard hats. The pandemic forced the IT leaders of many organizations to get back to the delivery of fundamental services for their organizations. Truly, fundamental – VPN, laptops, internet connections, and even power chords. As much of the world, and certainly most of the U.S. knowledge industry, moved to remote work in response to the pandemic, we depended on our technology leaders to flip the switch overnight. CIO teams assessed, rated, selected, and deployed new tools to their teams and enabled their teammates to be anywhere and serve anyone. They performed laudably in so many ways and went above and beyond across so many organizations. To every CIO who served in 2020, thank you!
As we turn to 2021, CIOs will get back to the challenges of building their organization for the future. They will do so against the backdrop of the lingering pandemic, which means many CIOs will continue to maintain a remote workforce for the majority of the year. This will continue to strain their support and cyber security teams that manage the increasingly distributed network. However, there are opportunities that run alongside the challenges of 2021.
The real opportunities for technology advancement in 2021 come as lessons from the 2020 pandemic. Here are four principles that CIOs may want to consider over the next year to help build their technology organizations with the resilience to respond to the post-pandemic world:
- Digital First – The pandemic saw a massive shift from physical to digital for the buying and entertainment habits of the U.S. economy that created an increased comfort with technology. CIOs have an opportunity to leverage this newly found comfort as an opportunity to improve both internal and customer facing platforms. CIOs can leverage this comfort to finally sunset antiquated systems and processes.
- Continuity always – Likewise, the pandemic gave many companies a crash course in continuity of operations planning (COOP). One major challenge in COOP are “homegrown” solutions or tool where there is a “gatekeeper” who has been holding on to an asset in a business division for years, sometimes leading into his retirement. The pandemic shows why these can no longer be siloed assets.
- Protect the supply chain – The supply chain has historically been viewed as an operational challenge for many production-based companies, but increasingly has a strong technology component. Whether it is the machine-driven warehouse, the RFID-labeled package, or the simply the data generated by the supply chain ecosystem; the CIO needs to be ready to engage. One emerging trend is Process Intelligence or the ability to leverage analytical tools to identify gaps and drive process improvements.
- Enable the masses with data – Just as the pandemic has created a new understanding of digital technology, many people have an enhanced understanding of data due to the use of tracking and trends to understand the pandemic. CIOs and Chief Data Officers can leverage this moment to liberate data within their own organization to create citizen data scientists within their workforce to identify challenges and solutions to their toughest challenges.
The pandemic certainly brought us many challenges and our CIOs saved us. Thank you! The pandemic has also brought us many lessons about how we can and should use technology in the post-pandemic world. These four principles are among the many ways we can continue to build our technology organizations with the resilience for the post-pandemic world and beyond.