CIOs: Ask 3 Questions Before Updating Strategy Post-Pandemic

July 15, 2020

Contributor: Katie Costello

Rethink what resilience and reliability mean for the post-pandemic organization.

As organizations move beyond the immediate response to COVID-19 and reset business strategy, CIOs have to decide how best to contribute.

While CIOs have continually re-evaluated operations during the pandemic, they must now focus on more strategic priorities: making their enterprise more resilient and better able to respond to uncertainties, capturing value from new digital opportunities and enabling digital business outcomes.

Read more: A Framework for Executive Decision Making During COVID-19

Here are three questions to ask to begin the post-pandemic strategy conversation.  

What factors have enabled us (or our competitors) to be resilient during the crisis?

Gartner defines organizational resilience as the ability of an organization to resist, absorb, recover and adapt to business disruption in an ever-changing and increasingly complex environment to deliver its objectives, rebound and prosper.

Understand how to further bolster your organization’s resilience by reflecting on what has already created it during the COVID-19 crisis for you and your competition. For example, many Chinese retailers were able to quickly shift to online shopping platforms because they already had the underlying IT infrastructure to do so, while other retailers did not. 

Leading CIOs acknowledge that an organization’s business model and strategy itself could be a threat to building its resilience. As a result, they are continuously examining employee and customer experiences for ways to make them more resilient and offset the impacts of COVID-19. Work with partners outside of IT to determine what impact proposed strategy changes might have on the rest of the organization.

Has our decision rights framework allowed us to respond with speed and flexibility in this crisis?

Evaluate the strategic decision-making process by reflecting on whether it enabled the IT organization to spot opportunities and threats across the business and how quickly it was able to respond to the challenge at hand. 

Centralized, top-down decision-making approaches limit organizations’ abilities to respond to volatile market dynamics. Organizations that allow distributed decision making, where business units, functions or teams make strategy-related decisions aligned to overall corporate objectives, are better equipped to quickly respond to the right opportunities and threats.

Who are our key resources inside and outside of IT for execution of technology strategy?

While the pandemic is fueling many digital opportunities across the enterprise — revamping sales and service channels, deploying new systems to support remote work — it also has the potential to burn out IT employees and lead to capacity issues. Leading CIOs acknowledge that corporate IT cannot be solely responsible for “digital” and they look for additional capacity outside of IT to help.

Employees outside of IT who customize or build data and technology solutions are enlisted as “force multipliers” to advance their digital transformation agenda. The role of the CIO is to orchestrate the work of these distributed technology producers outside IT by fostering consistent ways of working, promoting reuse and providing secure, efficient digital foundations for technology production.

With technology proving to be paramount to organizations during this crisis, it is essential that CIOs take this opportunity to reflect on how they can help their organizations be better prepared for future uncertainties.

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