Post COVID World, What it means to CIO/CTO of an Organization

By Sesh Vaidyula, Practice Head, Risk Compliance and Assurance, Americas Geo, Wipro Technologies

COVID pandemic has challenged the hypothesis of existing operating models of the business, tested the ability to withstand and remain solvent, and resilient in the post COVID world.

The business organizations not prepared to manage the pandemic. The existing business/IT strategies and plans failed because they developed on the premise of upward growth. Even the business continuity/disaster recovery plans fallen short in addressing the sudden shift in the business operating models and spurt in demand for remote computing.

CIO/CTO had to rapidly shift their focus to enable the organization to operate in a new normal state. As a consequence, the life of CIO/CTOs took topsy turvy as they had to stretch beyond their means to fulfill the sudden spurt in demand for remote computing while navigating thru several constraints and roadblocks related to but not limited the following –

  • Reduced budgets
  • Resource availability and mobility
  • Enterprise architecture agility
  • Infrastructure scalability
  • Application systems and infrastructure resiliency
  • Cybersecurity and data privacy

To enable remote computing, CIO/CTO had to fight a battle with executive leadership, security, risk, and compliance teams to get the exceptions to comply with corporate policies and standard practices approved. Despite rising above the bar and supporting the organization at the hour of need, the spotlights were on CIO/CTO questioning the agility built into IT capabilities to handle business disruptions.

Agility is the Key

As the world adjusting to the new Normal, agility is the key to manage business disruptions in the post COVID world. Rightsizing resources and infrastructure with an ability to switch between on-premise and remote computing is going to be the new norm for every business.  The organizations must build agility in their operating models, translate and reflect that into the enterprise business and IT architecture to address the current and future disruptions to the company.

Increased Expectations – Back to Basics would be the Mantra

It is evident from COIVD that Information technology (IT) is not just an enabler but a strategic driver of the business. Going forward, the CIO/CTO has more skin in the game and expected to play a more significant role in operating the business. With business reliance on IT increasing, a twin edged sword is on CIO/CTO’s head because the decisions they make today will determine the future of the organization.

To meet the increased expectations, the CIO/CTO must withhold the urge to jumping back to the routine, look beyond the existing practices and IT strategies and plans. Come out of the comfort zone, collaborate, and get every stakeholder on their side to build agility, scalability, and resiliency into the IT capabilities of the organization. To succeed,

Rationalize IT Portfolio

Rationalize the existing IT portfolio by leveraging the insights gained from the temporary shutdown and the quest to enable remote computing. Identify and prioritize the applications, systems, and infrastructure that needs to be modernized or decommissioned.

Digitalize Business

Digitalization might be the old mantra. However, Analysts predict that the adoption of cloud and sensor (IoT) based technologies followed by Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning will increase than ever before. Resist the temptation to join the race to digitalization. Work with business stakeholders to understand the priorities and leverage the insights gained from the shift in operating models during the lockdown period to identify the computing needs for determining and prioritizing the digitalization initiatives.

Embrace Risk

Adopt a risk-based approach to identify and prioritize IT modernization and digitalization initiatives for efficient use of resources, budgets and generate a good return on investment

Embrace Security

IT and cybersecurity go hand in hand and are inseparable.  IT modernization and digitalization initiatives may expose the organization to a new plethora of cybersecurity risks. Adopt security by design principles early in the program initiation to ensure all relevant security requirements considered and addressed.

Embrace Privacy

Recent privacy regulations such as GDPR, CCPA set a bar on corporate obligations to facilitate individual privacy rights and protection of personal information collected in due course of business. Embrace privacy by design principles into IT modernization, and digitalization program initiatives to comply with existing and emerging privacy requirements.

Build a Cross-Functional Team

Information Technology (IT) is no longer a function that can be run by technologists alone. Build a team of cross-functional members with business, finance, security, risk, compliance, operation, and marketing backgrounds/skill sets to position IT as a business driver.

Establish CIO/CTO Advisory Group

CIO/CTO can no longer afford to operate in silos. Engage the ecosystem, partner, and collaborate with other key stakeholders such as security, business continuity, risk, and compliance teams to build agility, scalability, security, and resiliency into the IT capabilities of the organization.

Revise IT Strategies & Plans

Revise IT strategies and plans based on prioritized IT modernization and digitalization program initiatives and align not only to the business (based on new operating models) but also with cybersecurity, privacy, and business continuity/resiliency. Ensure IT strategies and plans developed with flexibility or cushion to handle not only the business growth but also the time to time disruptions to the business.

In a nutshell, to succeed in the post COVID world, CIO/CTO has to transform from technology managers to transformational leaders driving growth and building resiliency of the organization through technology innovation and convergence with business.

Author

Sesh Vaidyula, Practice Head, Risk Compliance and Assurance, Americas Geo, Wipro Technologies

Sesh is a seasoned professional with 20+ years of experience in advising companies on cybersecurity, risk, compliance, and audit transformation and technology enablement programs.

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