CIOs & Covid 19, Diversity & Digital Opportunities

With organisations still busy trying to navigate the complexity of political, socio, and economic impacts, technology is in the spotlight as organisations lean heavily on digital solutions to position themselves to survive and subsequently thrive.

After nearly eight months, CIOs are stepping out of firefighting mode; having set people up to work from home, ensured system reliability, and mitigated against the increased risk of cyber-attacks. Full pivot completed, CIOs are now focused on future proofing and innovation. There is a real opportunity here for trailblazing technology leaders: finally the chance to address some of the mostly hotly debated topics in technology with real gusto, to initiate and instigate real change, and set the tone for the new normal.

Large portions of the conversation so far have focused on CIOs accelerating the digital agenda due to Covid-19. With new patterns of customer demand emerging, and potentially increased traffic through digital channels, there is an impending need to focus on all aspects of the digital ecosystem. As we all move towards understanding new customer rhythms and digital engagement opportunities through these unprecedented times, there is unquestionably an opportunity to accelerate digital transformation, identify new revenue channels, and develop true differentiation.

This is nothing new in reality! Most CIOs have been beating the “Digital Transformation” drum for years. The modern CIO was fashioned from the first onset of the digital age years ago as companies asked them to become customer advocates, commercially savvier, and to help drive business strategy. The real change is seeing slow to agree executive boards finally come round to the same mindset. The next shift must see all technology leaders jump on this unexpected opportunity and move from theory to practice quickly and effectively, before they get left behind.

There is another substantial opportunity within grasp. The solutions of a transformed digital eco-system could well be the answer to another hotly contested topic – diversity. Not only can technology leaders accelerate their digital programmes with fresh aplomb, but now they can also address diversity in a way never possible before. Previous barriers have been weakened, if not eliminated entirely due to the pandemic. The lowered expectations to be in the office or even be in the same country are great for diversity. Companies have never been so comfortable with working from home models, and far from seeing it as detrimental, most are highlighting the positive increase in productivity. With this agenda firmly set in future strategy, there is an opportunity for CIOs to change the fabric of their teams and finally begin to narrow the IT diversity divide.

CIOs and their leadership teams have never had a better opportunity to set themselves apart and further make the case for a seat at the top table.  The digital agenda has never been more prominent, but CIOs must deliver swift, cost-effective solutions that deliver sustainable long-term business benefit. They must also grasp the opportunity to embed improved diversity within their teams and acutely overcome the technology diversity challenge.

Norman Broadbent’s CIO Practice works with CIOs and their leadership teams to help address these issues. With services covering Leadership Consulting, Research & Insight, Interim and Executive Search; we are well equipped to support technology leaders in delivering and embedding digital transformation and helping to address diversity across entire organisations. If you would like to discuss this article further, learn more about The Norman Broadbent Group, or discuss specific people or organisational challenges, please do not hesitate to contact Ross Stacey via ross.stacey@normanbroadbent.com for an initial confidential discussion.