As the world battles the global pandemic, it will not be a return to business as usual post the crisis. What are the implications of the new normal for the CIO and how does he/she prepare for it? 3dotDigital’s IT consulting team shares what should be the CIO priorities for thriving on the other side of the pandemic, the post-COVID world.

CIOs planning to slow down their digital transformation efforts owing to the pandemic need to think again. In fact, this is the time to double down on them and gear up for growth when the pandemic settles down. We have had the dotcom bust and the great recession of 2008 and all of these have had a telling effect on digital strategies. Some CIOs have a playbook of possible cost-cutting they could do – be it cutting down on hardware or new projects. However, businesses that cut costs post the disruptions in the past have felt the heat from businesses that invested in when the global economy looked up. Balancing short-term crisis management with long-term measures is what will make businesses more competitive.

The COVID-19 pandemic also builds a bull case for cloud-first strategy wherein businesses need to embrace SaaS (software-as-a-service) and IaaS (infrastructure-as-a-service) technologies prior to evaluating on-site solutions.

Besides other digital transformation initiatives, CIOs also need to focus on enhancing business resiliency. The near term business resiliency objectives include bandwidth, VPN access, etc., that enable critical business activities to keep moving forward. In the long term, bolstering business resiliency includes optimizing service delivery, and reducing the vulnerabilities or likelihood of failure owing to cyber threats, disasters, pandemics etc.

Business continuity will evolve as a strategic discipline rather than being an operational discipline. Businesses need to have departments working in tandem rather than in siloes, and this is bound to make them more resilient.

Gearing up for the new normal: CIO’s punch list


(1) Cloud and XaaS capacities:
This is the time for the CIOs to talk to the decision-makers and make them invest in cloud and XaaS (everything as a service). For example, contact centre operations can be moved to the cloud for better availability for customers. Businesses that have migrated one-fourth of their assets to the cloud and everything as a service need to scale that up to half or more. There are several SaaS tools available like Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Slack, Salesforce, etc.

(2) Process automation: Even after the pandemic we could be in for a capacity-constrained workforce. To augment them, businesses using machine learning (ML) or robotic process automation (RPA), or a combination of the ML and RPA called Intelligent Automation (IA), need to invest more in these advanced automation technologies. These need to percolate down from centres of excellence to the entire enterprise.

(3) DevOps: CIOs need to increase automation of software development testing and ITSM (Information Technology Service Management) besides implementing a self-service help desk for streamlining operations.

(4) Data analytics: The data analytics strategies need to be bolstered as this helps businesses monitor their pulse. Decision-makers increasingly want to see real-time instrumentation of business health. The dashboards enable them to see the changes dynamically and take a call on situations better.

(5) Self-service: CIOs should build the self-service capabilities, e.g. the contact centre services for support, in case they have not done anything on this front yet. Self-service channels and platforms help employees, customers and partners to get what they need on their own, thereby lessening the load on IT and business.

All of these initiatives, which are a part of the digital transformation strategy anyways, prepare businesses for the new normal and hence the CIOs should continue to pursue them. Businesses that focus on the aforementioned spheres to become more competitive will eventually emerge as winners.