CIOs will play an important role as the world emerges into the new normal after coronavirus.
According to many analysts and research firms, the post-COVID era will look very different from the years leading up to 2020.
In fact, according to McKinsey, we are facing a dramatic paradigm shift. The world-leading consultancy states that the pandemic will divide the modern epoch into two eras: the one leading up to the coronavirus pandemic and the one following it.
Such a dramatic shift will have a major impact on the business landscape, which is why preparation is a necessity.
CIOs, as we will discover below, will play an important role in this shift, since the digital economy is evolving so rapidly.
Forward-thinking researchers and analysts have performed deep analyses of the current crisis and outlined a number of ways that the world will change in the years ahead.
McKinsey, Accenture, and others have suggested that the post-COVID era will be characterized by:
- Changed customer expectations, behaviors, and preferences. A number of factors will impact customer behavior, from financial strain to increased health concerns. These will change rapidly as the economy itself changes, so businesses must closely track their customers’ behavior and redesign customer experiences accordingly.
- New needs and expectations from employees. Employees will also shift their expectations and preferences. Greater conscientiousness over health and safety, for example, will prompt many employees to work from home – if employers permit it.
- Different health and safety requirements. Governments have imposed a number of health restrictions during the crisis. Though many of these may dissipate after the crisis abates, certain regulations will likely remain. Businesses may be required to implement certain types of safety precautions or data collection practices, for example.
- A shifted competitive landscape. The financial recession that has occurred as a result of the crisis will fundamentally reshape many areas of the economy. Many businesses have failed, others will have merged, and others will have succeeded. We also may witness new competitors emerge to exploit new business opportunities in the next normal.
- Accelerated digital transformation at the global level. In certain sectors, COVID-19 is fast-tracking digital transformation. Robotics, automation, and telehealth, for instance, have all seen increased investment, in part because these solutions enhance productivity while reducing the risk of infection.
Since digital technology will be so fundamental in the next few months and years, CIOs and IT departments will need to work closely with the organization to drive digital transformation efforts forward.
How CIOs Should Plan for the Post-COVID Age
Every business is unique, and every industry will fare differently in the new normal after coronavirus.
However, there are certain recommendations that will apply to any business, regardless of their industry.
Here are a few areas that organizations should focus on when planning for the new normal:
- Train employees and create a digitally savvy workforce. Digitally savvy workers can adopt and learn new software quicker. Also, they are more productive, efficient, and engaged, which offers many advantages to the organization. Not only do skilled workers boost organizational performance, they also improve a company’s ability to innovate, drive digital transformation, and enact organizational changes.
- Streamline the digital employee experience. Though many HR departments understand the importance of the employee experience, it is all too easy to neglect the digital employee experience. Since employees spend so much time immersed in their digital workflows, IT and HR departments should work together to simplify onboarding, training, and day-to-day workflows.
- Modernize IT systems. IT systems, tools, and infrastructures impact many areas of the business, from performance to security to the workplace. Having a modern IT infrastructure can offer a competitive advantage in certain circumstances, which is reason enough to maintain state-of-the-art systems. However, today’s competitive advantage is tomorrow’s norm, which puts laggards at a disadvantage.
- Stay secure and resilient. Cybersecurity and digital resilience are a must. This is especially true during the pandemic, when so many employees are working remotely. Security will also be important as companies speed up their digital transformation programs, implement new business processes, design business continuity programs, and make other organizational changes.
- Invest in digital transformation and adoption efforts. Since the pandemic is triggering digital transformation in both hemispheres, businesses must push their own digital agendas forward. Transformation, after all, takes time, and if companies pause too long to assess the situation, they may get left behind.
As many digital leaders recognize, humans and technology are equally important – especially in a world that is hurtling so quickly towards the digital future.
To succeed in that digital future, CIOs and IT teams must help to create a seamless interplay between employees and their tools.
The more skilled and savvy the workforce is, the better the organization will fare as the world moves into the next normal.