Boardroom Insiders CEO Sharon Gillenwater discussed the top of mind issues for CIOs due to the pandemic. Initially, the CIOs’ focus was on transitioning to work from home along with tightened security. There were also “stepped up initiatives around cloud, automation, and e-commerce in order to keep the business running. In fact, COVID-19 did more to speed up their digital transformation plans than anything else in recent history.”
“You can’t speed up the culture of an organization. You can roll out technology maybe faster… You have to be careful about speed over perfection. Speed is one thing, but you have to make sure that you don’t introduce any security risks, so it’s sort of combining those two things together [that] I think is extremely important at this time.”Box CIO Paul Chapman
The Boardroom Insiders research team spent two weeks reviewing recent CIO interviews and identified five positive by-products of the pandemic that are improving the resiliency and capabilities of the enterprise. First off, tech leaders have emphasized upskilling and reskilling their teams to address skills gaps. Tech vendors have rolled out “a whole host of free training and education programs.” As these programs are virtual, CIOs are encouraging their staff to attend these sessions with zero travel costs and registration fees.
Likewise, CIOs are using the time at home to hone their leadership, communication, and team engagement skills. CIOs have found their teams to be more productive, collaborative, and agile, with rising morale.
The third silver lining is the acceptance and integration of new tools into business workflows. Many of these changes were a necessity due to operational dislocations, but these new tools are “driving new levels of productivity and employee self-service across the enterprise.”
The work from home experience has also served as a “future of work lab” which forced executives and managers to “rethink business processes.” This rethinking has “driven a wave of innovation internally” and let management observe how a remote workforce behaves. This forced experiment has helped CIOs “map out a vision of what the future of work should really look like at their companies.”
Finally, the pandemic has encouraged CIOs to test and revise their business continuity plans and enhance security tools and protocols, readying the firm for the next crisis.
Gillenwater described the current situation as a balance between navigating COVID and growth-focused initiatives:
- Evolving work-from-home into a long-term roadmap for the future-of-work
- Enabling security everywhere and agile/mobile/digital/cloud everything
- Scenario and business continuity planning, in an attempt to plan for future changes and challenges
- Accelerating digital initiatives, at a pace that many say they’ve never seen before
- Cost cuts/expense management, an inevitability in an economically trying time
- Reprioritization and refocusing of IT investments and projects
- eCommerce, as part of the rush to digitize
- Innovation, to identify and capitalize on future opportunities