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A CIO Checklist: How to Lead Digital Change After COVID-19

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IT leaders will be instrumental in executing digital recovery after COVID-19, so it is important to prepare a CIO checklist for that recovery pathway.

In this post, we’ll explore some of the most important activities that CIOs, CTOs, and other IT leaders should focus on.


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A CIO Checklist for Leading Digital Change After COVID-19

Whether you’re a small company, a medium-sized organization, or a large enterprise with a massive IT strategy, here are some of the most important items to include in your checklist of action items:

1. Review technology trends

Technology is reshaping the world, especially now – COVID-19, after all, has accelerated digital transformation across the globe. 

With these changes come new challenges, as well as opportunities. 

Those on the leading edge of technology have a huge competitive advantage, so it is important to stay up-to-date on emerging technologies, such as:

Not only should CIOs stay current with these trends, but they should also to be able to anticipate how those technologies will impact their industry and their business.

After all, today’s emerging technology will become the norm in the post-COVID era.

2. Review your process and procedures

Digital-first business processes are quickly becoming prerequisites for success in today’s economy.

Businesses can realize significant performance gains, for instance, if their processes exploit:

  • Data and analytics
  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning
  • Enterprise-grade SaaS platforms

Companies that automate their business processes through the use of such IT solutions will see productivity increase, which in turn will lead to more better organizational efficiency overall. 

In other words, since technology is a cornerstone of business strategy and performance, every organization must become a technology-driven organization.

3. Review your employee’s skills and abilities

As businesses undergo digital transformation, they need more digitally savvy employees.

Digital literacy is therefore becoming more and more essential in order for organizations to meet their performance goals – and while many employees have basic digital skills, there are also many who don’t.

Many CEOs actually feel that a lack of key skills inhibits innovation, growth, and performance.

CIOs should therefore evaluate the current state of their workforce and what skills will be needed in the years after COVID-19.

4. Review your company culture

The workplace is becoming more digital by the day.

During 2020, for instance, the world adopted telecommuting practices on a global scale. And with more and more of us using smartphones, tablets, and laptops for our daily work, it’s time for CIOs to ask – should your company culture be digitally native?

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It might seem like a daunting task, but creating a digital workplace culture will become critical for driving success in the years after COVID-19. 

When the company culture embraces digital technology, after all:

  • Employees will be more willing to adopt and learn new digital tools, which will reduce resistance to change and software-related frustration
  • Businesses will be able to adopt new tools more smoothly, efficiently, and cost-effectively
  • It will be easier to drive digital transformation 

CIOs may not feel that culture change lies within their domain of expertise.

Gartner, however, feels otherwise. They have suggested, for example, that CIOs will lead culture change in the coming years.

5. Review customer-facing technology

Customers are changing their behavior, buying more digital products, and consuming more digital content.

Though this trend has been ongoing for years, COVID-19 accelerated many changes in customer behavior. 

For instance, many research firms expect customers to:

  • Buy more digital products
  • Consume more digital content
  • Increasingly prefer online shopping 

In short, customer-facing IT will become even more fundamental to business models, regardless of the industry.

To adapt, CIOs should work with other executives to understand their audience’s shifting expectations and then evolve IT strategies accordingly.

6. Review your finances

Most industries experienced major financial difficulties during COVID-19. Solvency, profitability, and business continuity became major concerns for many organizations.

Yet many companies also recognized the need to stay invested in digital technology – or even expand their investments, despite financial constraints.

The recovery from COVID-19 will be digital, after all, and only innovative, digital business models will succeed in the years ahead.

To ensure that their organization continues to invest in IT, CIOs should educate other executives, such as CFOs, on the financial value of digital technology.

7. Review your IT resiliency strategy

As we saw during 2020, the most digitally savvy organizations were also the most resilient.

For instance, the companies that were most successful:

  • Were able to rapidly implement remote working policies
  • Had adopted cloud platforms and cloud-based IT infrastructure
  • Were prepared to deliver online products and services to their customers

IT resiliency, in short, was directly tied to organizational resiliency.

While the worst of the pandemic is likely over, many research firms expect volatility and uncertainty to continue for some time. CIOs and other IT leaders, therefore, should maintain a solid IT resiliency plan designed to minimize business risk and maintain operational continuity in the face of disruptive change.

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