The New Normal: Meaning and Implications for CIOs

For CIOs and IT departments that want to plan for the new normal, meaning matters – after all, in order to plan for the new normal, we must first understand how it will impact the business world.

In this article, we’ll learn what the new normal means, how it will impact the business landscape, and what IT teams can do to prepare.

The New Normal: Meaning and Implications for CIOs and IT Teams

Many researchers and analysts predict that COVID-19 will usher in a new global paradigm. 

The deep shifts that we are witnessing today, they suggest, mark the beginning of a new and different era.

McKinsey, for instance, dubs this era the “next normal” and claims that it will ultimately result in major economic and social restructuring across the globe.

In the months and years ahead, we can expect fundamental changes that impact:

  • The Economy – The health crisis, as we all know, quickly gave rise to a financial crisis. This crisis, unprecedented in our lifetimes, will alter spending habits, business strategies, and ultimately the economic landscape.
  • Society – Health concerns have driven many governments to take a more active role in public health policy and the economy. These changes may revert to a certain extent after the crisis, but some of them will undoubtedly remain.
  • Customers – Customers’ finances will not be the only thing driving a change in customer behavior. Greater concern over health and safety will also affect customer sentiment and, as a result, business strategies.
  • Employees – Employees will also become more concerned about their own health, as well as the health and safety of their families. Sentiments such as these will almost certainly fuel an increased interest in workplace safety, the virtual workplace, and related trends.
  • Technology – IT budgets have universally decreased (see below), but technology continues to advance. The pandemic, after all, has revealed a number of benefits to digitalization, such as organizational resilience, increased productivity, and improved workplace safety.
  • The Competitive Landscape – A single trend may not be enough to alter the shape of the marketplace. However, the current protracted crisis will have a permanent impact on the world, which will ultimately reshape the post-COVID marketplace.

Preparing for such a changed world will be challenging, to say the least. 

But businesses that take action now will stand a far better chance of succeeding in the post-COVID age.

3 Key Planning Strategies to Stay Successful During COVID-19

Fundamentally, businesses should adjust their strategies and tactics to fit the circumstances.

As business leaders chart a path forward, plans should focus on:

  • Crisis response and management during disruptions
  • Long-term stability during the pandemic
  • Innovation and growth during the new normal

Though many industries have suffered significantly during the crisis, digital technology remains a priority for many organizations, as we will see below.

The Digital Transformation Imperative

Overall, IT spending is down as a result of COVID-19.

However, despite decreased budgets, IDC research shows that investment in digital transformation remains high.

Many other organizations concur, and their investments align with their assessments. 

Accenture has compressed years’ worth of digital transformation efforts into the span of a few months, for instance. And Microsoft claims that increased use of its products demonstrate “two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months.”

In short, many industry leaders expect that the post-COVID age will be far more digital than the years leading up to 2020.

To keep up with these global shifts, CIOs, IT teams, and business leaders should prepare for a new normal characterized by:

  • A changed digital landscape
  • Uncertainty and long-term instability in the economy
  • New challenges and disruptions
  • Emerging opportunities in the digital space

When developing digital strategies for the new normal, organizations will naturally need to assess their own circumstances and act accordingly.

However, a few fundamental themes hold true across industries.

In order to stay strong in the next normal, businesses should:

  • Cultivate a digitally savvy workforce and corporate culture. Employee training is no longer a luxury in the modern workplace. Businesses continually adopt new software, adapt workflows, and make changes to the workplace. To keep up, it is not only necessary to onboard and train employees effectively, businesses should develop a digitally savvy work culture and a digital-centric workplace.
  • Modernize the IT infrastructure. It should go without saying that a digital-first business strategy depends on having a modern IT infrastructure. Not only will a modern IT infrastructure improve organizational performance, it will also offer resilience against crises. Cloud computing, for instance, can improve remote working capabilities, security, and more.
  • Invest in emerging technology. A number of technologies have seen new applications during the pandemic. Robots, IoT, and automation, for example, have allowed businesses to stay productive while keeping people safe. Telehealth-related technology, likewise, is also seeing boosted investment and use.
  • Stay data-driven, customer-centered, and agile. Economic and social disruptions can rapidly alter customer sentiment and behavior. To stay current, businesses must adopt strategies that are customer-centered. The successful implementation of such strategies, of course, will also depend on the adoption of proper technology, such as analytics platforms.
  • Accelerate efforts to match the speed of global transformation. The pandemic has vastly altered many aspects of the business landscape. Businesses can no longer afford to follow pre-existing plans or hope that “things just go back to normal.” To thrive in the post-pandemic world, businesses must recognize, adapt to, and match speeds with today’s ongoing changes.

Many of these recommendations fall in line with existing digital transformation strategies.

However, given the state of the world – and the ongoing digitalization of the global economy – digital transformation and adoption are more important than ever. 

Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.