According to a recent survey by Gartner, Inc. CIOs have enhanced their organizational credibility during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there are some major complex challenges that CIOs must deal with during the recovery to uphold their elevated value. As per a Gartner CIO Research Circle (a Gartner managed panel) survey of 58 CIOs in May 2020, it is revealed that 43% of respondents expressed planning for their enterprises’ post-COVID-19 strategy has commenced, while 38% were still dealing with the effects, but determined to recover soon.
“In many organizations, CIOs were highly influential in dealing with the initial impact of COVID-19. By enabling a newly dispersed workforce to work from home, enterprises continue to operate with a heavy lift from IT organizations. Consequently, many CIOs have a fresh opportunity to take a seat at the table when senior leaders decide which lines of business to ramp up and which ones to reduce, along with enterprise strategy,” said Andy Rowsell-Jones, distinguished research vice president at Gartner.
The Gartner survey has revealed that the COVID-19 catastrophe has improved CIOs’ relationships with business leaders and the benefits flowed both ways. Almost 75% of respondents believe that they educated CEOs and other senior leaders during the crisis; while two-thirds of CIOs said they were benefitted with the knowledge of business operations.
“The refined engagement with the CEO originates from business capabilities delivered by IT during the initial COVID-19 response,” said Mr. Rowsell-Jones. “For example, 67% of CIOs said they ‘assumed leadership of high-impact initiatives’ during the response. This supposedly refers to support the employees working from home as 70% of CIOs have extended support for ‘work from home’ as their proudest accomplishment in the pandemic response. However, this goodwill with the CEOs will fade swiftly unless CIOs can lengthen it by helping the business deliver on other significant initiatives required during the recovery.”
Focus on the Next Set of Business Challenges to Sustain Momentum
The COVID-19 pandemic is not accountable for a major IT reorganization and it may have delayed one that was already underway. Many IT organizations were progressing steadily to a more product-centric delivery model when the pandemic struck and as a counter measure replaced these plans with something much more immediate. However, what worked well during the preliminary response to the pandemic will not help the enterprise to achieve success as organizations reset their strategy.
CIOs will have to make substantial changes to help their enterprises achieve their top business objectives during the recovery. The survey showed that CIOs have already identified some of the alterations they need to make to the IT organization but they are not certain about the limits up to which these changes can be executed.
The Gartner survey enquired respondents about the amendments in priority they adopted in response to COVID-19. A large percentage of CIOs listed prioritized a few things, including changing the organizational culture and aligning to business priorities. However, most CIOs who changed priorities did so only to a small degree, just enough to deal with the immediate crisis.
“For the IT organization to play a larger role in developing and executing the business strategy, CIOs will have to make a much larger degree of modification in many areas. For example, using cloud services to deploy applications faster to remote workers may represent a significant change in platform for some enterprises, but it remains confined to the realm of operations,” said Mr. Rowsell-Jones. “A business-oriented IT strategy would probably involve the construction of a digital business technology platform — a long and complex undertaking.”