COVID-19 has impacted the technology landscape in a such a dramatic way that CIOs are ever more challenged to support ongoing business operations while also trying to drive new technology solutions to gain competitive advantage.
To that end, forward-thinking CIOs are re-positioning their priorities to take best advantage of this extremely difficult COVID-19 reality.
Enhancing Remote Working
COVID-19 and the associated social distancing measures imply that large gatherings of office staff are simply no longer functional. Even when social distancing is eased, most offices would need to significantly limit the number of staff in attendance at any given time – possibly for years to come.
Furthermore, CIO strategy must also engage and connect with ongoing remote working practices. Even after the Coronavirus crisis subsides, remote working is likely to continue. Leading organizations will recognize that remote workers can be as effective and efficient as office-based teams.
But getting the technology behind remote working right can be difficult. Some businesses still depend on large footprints of on-premise equipment and have a small number of employees that work remotely. In these scenarios , CIOs would need to be very creative in the way that they introduce remote working arrangements and deliver the technology to support remote working.
Many organizations are already leveraging the cloud, and have some form of remote working policies. However, remote working at scale is a different matter altogether. In other words, moving from a minority of the workforce working remotely to a majority is a completely new challenge.
Regardless of how advanced an organization is with respect to its remote working position, CIOs still have much to do to adjust to this new environment, including managing new, remote endpoints all accessing corporate data across unknown, uncontrolled networks.
Security and Cyberattacks
One of the biggest ways in which COVID-19 is impacting CEO priorities is related to cybersecurity. As more employees work remotely, CIOs have already discovered that cybersecurity risks are spreading rapidly – and that new risks are emerging daily.
For instance, remote workers are increasingly targeted by sophisticated phishing attacks. These attacks exploit the uncertainty and interruption brought on by remote working. With staff now working in private environments, defense against deception has become much more difficult. It is no longer easy to simply walk over to a colleague to verify a request.
Phishing is just one example. Hackers also know that home office networks are more vulnerable. Criminal actors will take advantage of the overall reduced level of control over most corporate networks.
So what does this mean for CIOs? It means that they must review tried and trusted security systems to make up for the new COVID reality.
Strain on IT Budgets
From the viewpoint of technology budgets, COVID-19 is putting CIOs in a complicated position in two ways. First, CIO priorities must shift to cope with expenditures from remote working arrangements while operating within a pre-existing annual IT budget.
There is another growing issue, however. The economic impact of COVID-19 is placing pressure on the revenues and bottom-line of organizations globally. For a period, a large percentage of businesses will concentrate on reducing expenses. It is unavoidable that technology expenditure will be at the forefront.
As a result, typical CIO responsibilities must now include managing a potentially dwindling budget. IT leaders will likely need to shift priorities to:
- Look for any non-essential projects that can be deferred. Chances are that budgets will be under pressure for a period of up to four or five years. Now may be the time to defer projects that are useful, but not essential.
- Decrease spending in affected business lines. COVID-19 may affect some business lines more than others. IT leaders should work with other CXO staff to identify where IT requirements can be cut without affected business lines that are seeing less demand.
- Evaluate vendor agreements. Some vendor agreements may offer some flexibility to reduce billings where demand drops. Cloud contracts are typically structured in a flexible, scalable manner and this is where IT leaders should try to find potential savings.
- Don’t reduce security budgets. COVID-19 is, without a doubt, bringing new security challenges to the forefront – now is not the time to cut relationships with security vendors or postpone security initiatives.
- Target IT spending toward the new normal. Finally, it’s worth tweaking technology spending, even where budgets are cut. Expenditure must reflect the new normal. Doing so will tap more business value out of limited IT budgets.
The pandemic is proving to be a moment of major change, and undoubtedly it also suggests change in the way businesses use technology – and how CIOs react to their company’s technology requirements.
A forward-thinking, strategic approach will extract the most value out of IT budgets. Nonetheless, CIO priorities will need to adjust in order to respond to current challenges. Refining remote working efficiency and concentrating on an adapted cybersecurity position will deliver immediate benefits.
The Future is Digital
Digital transformation is first and foremost a business transformation that impacts organizational structures, activities, processes, competencies, cultures and business models. Digital transformation is driven by an ever-changing customer landscape that is highly connected and digitally savvy. Litcom’s digital transformation services are designed to enable companies to fully leverage digital technologies to support their business transformation and create impactful customer experiences. Contact us for more information.