COVID-19: Shaping the future through digital business

Perspectives

COVID-19: Shaping the future through digital business

Leveraging technology to support the recovery and produce lasting change

Never has there been a time in which the role of the CIO and other digital technology leaders has been so pivotal to shaping the future of their organisation. As the pandemic shuts down the physical world, everyone is assuming that the digital world will step in and fill the chasm. But is that realistic?

The challenges placed on technology leaders are among the most multi-dimensional in which organisations have had to grapple. Virtually overnight, they have been asked to support a broad sweep of new pressures—changing customer demands to digital channels, reconfigured supply chains, additional necessary workforce collaboration capacity and bandwidth, licenses and equipment to support remote work, and a litany of other issues requiring immediate scale and resiliency.

Although there is no proven roadmap available for dealing with a global humanitarian crisis with the scale of COVID-19, we believe that leaders at all levels will need to act across three phases. Globally, technology decision makers in every organisation have already made significant choices to Respond to the COVID-19 pandemic crisis with speed to maximise the safety of employees and ensuring continuity of business. Gradually, as the pandemic begins to evolve, they will have to transition into the next two phases: Recover – during which an organisation learns and emerges stronger from its response; and Thrive – in which the organisation prepares for and shapes the “next normal.”

Jumpstart the recovery to ensure scalability

Given the complexity of the pandemic, there is reason to believe that the recovery phase for COVID-19 will require unprecedented levels of orchestration, communication, and changing of existing configurations during what promises to be a challenging and potentially protracted period across the globe. For many technology leaders, the first steps they take during this phase will be informed by the necessary series of adjustments they enacted as the crisis erupted and came to a head, specifically:

  • Support and enhance the workforce experience for collaboration and co-creation
  • Secure technology supporting the new work environment
  • Construct monitoring “command centers” for strategic response
  • Produce a playbook for future disruptions.
Stabilise business operations for future readiness and resilience

The world will ultimately reopen for business. When that happens, the quick fixes and patchwork solutions adopted during the response phase may not stand up to rigorous testing. The focus at this stage will be on stabilising and strengthening many of the solutions and processes rushed into place, by being more thoughtful and strategic about their deployment, developing the support infrastructure around them, and fully understanding the impact they will have across their organisations and partner networks.

Specifically, technology leaders will need to:

  • Enhance digital innovations and presence
  • Post-modernise customer support operations
  • Build a trusted technology ecosystem
  • Scale automation pilots
  • Create a resilient IT architecture
  • Establish a sensing function
  • Reallocate tech funding for agility
  • Keep an eye on their assets
  • Get to know their people, inside and out.
Position to thrive longer term by shaping the “next normal”

As organisations recover, it is essential to cast an eye on the future competitive landscape, considering which changes wrought by the crisis will constitute a “next normal.” Those technology leaders able to get ahead of these shifts will help their organisations thrive beyond the near and intermediate terms. Three longer-term priority areas represent a good start:

  • Reimagine customer experience by focusing on human-centered design
  • Bridge the physical and digital worlds to deliver new value
  • Establish trust as a key business value.

Published: May 2020

COVID-19: Shaping the future through digital business
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