A CIO Checklist for the Post-COVID Era
A CIO checklist can make it far easier for IT teams and organizations to transition successfully into the post-COVID era – or, as McKinsey calls it, “the next normal.”
Making this move into the world after COVID-19 will require a new approach to IT, operating models, and digital strategy, among other things.
It is therefore important to develop a new list of priorities to focus on, both now and into the future.
Below, we’ll look at a few core areas to include when developing a COVID recovery checklist.
How to transition to the post-COVID “next normal”
According to McKinsey, digital will lead COVID-19 recovery efforts.
On the one hand, this places new responsibilities on the shoulders of CIOs. At the same time, however, it presents new opportunities for CIOs to help reshape and prepare their organizations for the digital future.
Here are a few of the areas which major research firms, particularly McKinsey, recommend that CIOs emphasize in the coming months and years:
Maintain emergency protocols
As we have already seen, resurgences in infections can drive new lockdowns and quarantine measures. Those, in turn, often have a direct impact on business operations.
Until we fully transition into the next normal, CIOs and other business leaders should maintain and adjust business continuity plans and emergency measures.
Here are a few points CIOs can add to their checklist of emergency protocols:
Update business continuity plans. Business continuity plans, such as data and disaster recovery plans, will have revealed their strengths and weaknesses during 2020. They should be updated and improved before they are needed a second time.
Boost remote working capabilities. Remote working is unlikely to go away after the pandemic ends. Although the future workplace may never become fully virtual, remote work will almost certainly be more common. CIOs and relevant business leaders should therefore continue to find ways to optimize telecommuting capabilities and support the online workforce.
Enhance cybersecurity measures. Cybersecurity has always been important. But when the entire workplace is remote, new vulnerabilities are introduced. CIOs and IT teams should carefully evaluate and mitigate the risks presented by telecommuting, as well as other risk factors that may have been introduced as a result of the pandemic.
Redesign business processes and workflows as needed. The shift to a virtual workplace and a digital-first paradigm may not be easy for every company. It could require significant updates to existing workflows, and those may carry over into the post-COVID era. Optimizing workflows around agile principles can help improve both efficiency and resilience.
While we want to stay optimistic, business continuity, disaster recovery, and other emergency measures may again become necessary. Having a checklist to deal with such contingencies can help both IT teams and the entire workforce stay agile and resilient in the face of future disruptions.
Scale down until recovery
Economic recovery may take years, and it won’t be easy. As a result, budgets will be heavily scrutinized.
Here are a few areas to prioritize during this time:
Cost reductions. Budget cuts may be necessary not only to reduce costs, but to redirect resources towards new investments and opportunities. This may mean completely rethinking existing projects and cutting or postponing those that have been rendered irrelevant by the pandemic.
Deploying specialized task forces. The more aggressive the changes, the more necessary it will be to have strong digital leadership and support. Specialized teams should be built and deployed as needed to manage new projects and changes as they unfold.
Reallocating IT workers. Significant shifts in IT priorities may also require the restructuring of departments, staffing, and resources, both internal and outsourced. Rapid redeployment or reassignment of personnel may be necessary for the foreseeable future, particularly if further public health restrictions drive more economic volatility.
Agility will be essential as businesses continue to cope with economic disruptions. Once the global economy embarks on the road to recovery, however, the focus can gradually shift towards new projects and strategic growth initiatives.
Pivot and reinvent IT services
No one can say for certain exactly what the next normal will look like – what is certain, however, is that the business landscape will change significantly.
To prepare for and react to these changes, CIOs should focus on the following:
Rebalancing in favor of online interactions. Though onsite office work and retail shopping will certainly return to a certain extent, online interactions will likely become far more common. CIOs should therefore begin pivoting business communications, both customer-facing and internal, towards online channels.
Shift products and services to meet changing customer demands. Customer demands will also undergo significant changes. Not only will customers prefer to shop online, their purchasing preferences will change as well. For instance, Accenture suggests that health-related and home-related products will become far more popular.
Continually reevaluate investments and priorities. Economic uncertainty and volatility may continue for some time to come, even after the pandemic ends. This will present challenges, but it may also offer opportunities for growth. CIOs should be alert and ready to capitalize on those opportunities, which may require the continual reevaluation of existing investments.
One of the key points to note when designing a checklist for the transition to the next normal is that each stage of the recovery will require different actions.
Also, and equally important to keep in mind, is that the recovery may be uneven. More volatility may lie ahead, so CIOs should be agile and rethink their priority checklists when necessary.