Is it time to rebalance your tech investments to prepare for the new normal?

4 min read.

News Article
1 September 2021

Top 3 Business Impacts & Recommendations For CIOs: Lessons Learned From COVID-19

The impacts of COVID-19 – which businesses have experienced large and small – serve as a wake-up call for those that are unprepared for the long-term implications of this or a similar pandemic, and what is now being referred to as the #newnormal.

As a result of the impacts of COVID-19, enterprises globally are facing the difficulties of supply chain disruption and employee immobilisation. Since COVID-19 is contagious, businesses are also evaluating the prospect of cancelling in-person meetings, conferences and events. Consumer demand has been impacted differently across industries. Some enterprises have experienced dramatic negative impacts, such as travel and public transportation, while others are experiencing major demand spikes – like pharmaceuticals and medical equipment.

Most businesses are focused on dealing with the short-term impacts of coronavirus, but it’s critical to recognise the long-term impacts, too. Because traditional channels of operation and communication have been disrupted, the value of digital channels has never been more evident. Thus, CIOs can present a better business case as digitalisation serves as a wake-up call for businesses that are potentially overly focused on daily operational needs rather than digital investments and long-term flexibility. To better prepare for future growth, it’s advisable for organizations to rebalance business priorities and technology investments now.

“COVID-19 has disrupted operations and will have prolonged impacts on continuity of operations, modes of working and growth patterns. CIOs need to respond to the crisis with both short- and long-term actions to increase resilience against future disruptions, and prepare for rebound and growth.” – Gartner, Inc. in Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak: Short- and Long-Term Actions for CIOs

Top 3 COVID-19 Impacts CIOs Should Be Aware of and Be Responding To Today

1. Organisations are struggling with business continuity while many employees are stranded in various locations without immediate plans for returning.

Quarantine measures and travel restrictions are abounding globally, leading to significant uncertainty as to when employees may return to their respective work locations. Employees who have managed to return to home base are typically asked to self-quarantine for seven to 14 days. To compound matters, travel restrictions seem indefinite, making it hard to predict when business operations can resume rather than running on limited capacity or remaining suspended entirely. As a result of the geographic disparity of employees and general uncertainty, the demand for cloud based technology and collaboration tools has surged as businesses have worked tediously to enable remote workforces.

There are many hard-hitting lessons garnered from the COVID-19 crisis that may very well be valuable for long-term business flexibility and sustainability. Remote work is sure to become more mainstream post COVID-19; thus, businesses should be preparing for the change. CIOs will do well to develop a robust digital workplace strategy to improve overall efficiency, ensure business continuity and enable employees to work remotely successfully.

2. Changes in market demands are drastic, leading to major stress for businesses

Fluctuating market demands are impacting businesses in a dichotomous fashion: first, many industries are facing considerable declines in demand. Financial challenges are a serious problem as cash flows deplete. Conversely, some industries are experiencing major demand spikes: online grocery, medical equipment and supplies, education, etc. However, many of these organisations simply weren’t prepared with the proper employees or facilities to cope, resulting in frustrated, disengaged customers.

Businesses will need to enable self-service options and diversify their investments in digital tools to respond more effectively to changing demand through digital channels. Making these investments will allow organisations to be more strategic and resilient in the long term.

3. Unclear or limited information is leading to misinformed business decisions, which is increasing employee anxiety and resulting in unpreparedness for future rebound and growth plans
Information on COVID-19 is pouring in from a myriad of sources and government entities. Due to the mix of information, it’s an uncertain environment in which to makes decisions as to when employees can return to the office. Many employees are feeling anxious because corporate communications don’t always address key concerns. Businesses should utilise data to support their go-forward decision making and communicate progress and changes to employees. It’s also a good time to test the quality of data and analytics capabilities designed to influence business decisions.

The above is an overview of the primary business impacts CIOs should be aware of and responding to during this time.