2020 was a historic year for CIOs. Before last year, there had never been a point when nearly every CIO had to completely restructure how their organization did business in just a matter of days — or even a few hours. But that’s what happened thanks to COVID-19.
Seemingly overnight, CIOs turned their organizations into remote companies. Some CIOs were able to accelerate their organization’s digital transformation efforts by years.
It was a tremendous effort, but many CIOs were up to the task – and it resulted in positive changes. According to the 2020 Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey, 61% of 4,200 IT leaders reported that the pandemic has permanently increased the influence of technology within the organization.
However, the job of a CIO isn’t over after this win. No one should be sitting back and relaxing because of this success. Now, I’m not saying that any CIOs are simply sitting pretty, just basking in the success of last spring. But it is easy to slip back into a world of managing the daily fires within IT and lose sight of the larger business.
The organization is going to expect more now from the CIO than ever before. Now that the rest of the organization knows the difference a good CIO can make, they are going to want one that is innovative, proactive, and continuing to work for the bigger picture of business success.
Don’t get lost in the day-to-day management of IT and let the successes of 2020 go to waste.
Are you wasting last year’s success?
Here are some things to check to determine if you’re wasting last year’s success:
You haven’t reviewed what you implemented in 2020 to check for gaps.
This is not to take away the accomplishments of IT. The swift change to remote work was an incredible undertaking and if you knocked it out of the park, then you should feel proud of that success. However, that transition was likely rushed and lots of organizations implemented band-aid solutions. No one had any idea that we would still be dealing with the fallout of COVID-19 almost a year after the initial shutdown. It’s entirely possible the solution you implemented was never meant to be a long-term solution. Now’s the time to review those solutions and determine if they’re meeting the needs of your company today. You should also ensure that these solutions match the current business strategy. Did your organization pivot how they deliver value to the customer? Is remote work becoming a permanent part of your organization? How has your company shifted since the original shutdown last March?
You may find that parts of your remote work solutions simply aren’t meeting the needs of your organization anymore. You may need to revisit technology investments or redesign workflows to better fit the current goals and reality of your organization.
You’re ignoring foundational issues in workflows and service delivery.
Remote work is not easy, especially since many team members are working from home with their families and children. Have you addressed the workflows inside and outside of IT since the beginning of the pandemic? And what about service delivery? Have you surveyed colleagues to ensure their technology needs are being met? Workflows naturally shift over time, and with so much upheaval, there is no doubt that work has shifted and that value might not be reaching the end-user. Get an up-to-date view of your workflows to make sure they’re still delivering.
You’re not involved with the customer experience.
If IT has not been brought into the customer experience yet, your organization is already falling behind. 2020 completely changed how products and services are delivered and used by customers and technology played a huge role in that change. One of the many lessons that 2020 taught us was that CIOs and IT have to play a role in creating and managing the customer experience. So if customer experience hasn’t made its way to your “to do” list, it’s time to prioritize that.
You’re not involved in the employee experience.
Much like the customer experience, the employee experience quickly evolved in 2020. IT has always played a chief role in employee experience, but it’s more vital now. Many organizations are working remotely or operating in a hybrid remote/traditional office model. As I mentioned earlier, employees are under a lot of pressure as many are juggling working from home with their personal responsibilities, like managing virtual schooling or sharing home office spaces with their partners and roommates. CIOs and HR must work together to monitor how employees are operating and if they are receiving everything they need to do their jobs now.
You’re not actively engaging with the rest of the organization.
A true leader is not someone who hides out in their office or only deals with their team. For CIOs to maintain the status they achieved during the early days of the pandemic, they must actively engage with every department in the organization. IT is unique in that it is a cross-departmental organization. IT works with every other department within the organization to help them achieve their goals. CIOs must become more of a presence everywhere — and yes, even remotely. If you haven’t met with other department leaders and gotten up to date on their goals and challenges for 2021, it’s time to book some meetings on the calendar.
How to Capitalize on Last Year’s Success
If any of the above scenarios sound familiar to you, it’s ok! The CIO role is evolving and that takes some level of adjustment. But you want to act now if you want to capitalize on last year’s success. Here are some small steps you can take to get started.
Leverage what worked and previous successes.
Continual improvement is even more important right now. Most organizations are in the midst of change and to keep that change positive, you want to leverage the things that worked for you in 2020. Review your wins from 2020 and see how you can either enhance those wins with better service delivery, tightened workflows, or additional technology. Small wins like this can add up.
Look at where there are gaps in service.
As I already mentioned, some solutions implemented last spring were not meant to be long-term – and that’s okay. But now is the time to address it. Instead of thinking of these changes as huge overhauls or that you’re starting from scratch, they can simply be enhancements in your workflow or service delivery. The good news is that you did so much of the heavy lifting last spring when you originally made the switch to remote work.
Communicate and engage with other business leaders.
You earned their respect in 2020. Now it’s time to earn their trust. Other leaders in the business will be more open and inviting to you if you demonstrate that your goal is to help them achieve their goals. No other leader wants to feel like they have to be forced into IT’s workflows or that IT is trying to control their access to tools and technology. You have to prove that IT has moved past being the “Department of No” by being a collaborative partner who works towards the same goals. Start building these relationships one by one and you will create support for any future IT initiative.
I don’t want to diminish the success that IT leaders achieved in 2020. Like I said at the start of this article, 2020 was a banner year. Every CIO had to step up to the plate. But it’s important to check that you’re still taking steps to optimize services and leverage all your success from last year. My hope is that 2020 was just the beginning and that every CIO can keep innovating and playing a vital role in business decisions.Share