Wanted: Practical Visionary – The Role of a CIO in a Post-Covid World

April 29, 2020 Share this article:

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The unprecedented global lockdown in the wake of the spread of COVID-19 has catapulted the Chief Information Officer into the spotlight. Virtually overnight, a company’s technology platform became the lynchpin around which all other business functions turned, acting as shopfront, client support, HR, warehousing, dispatch and conference centre, and accelerating a jump to digital that had already been in the wings for some time. With tech having emerged as the only winner in the COVID-crisis, how will this affect the CIO function going forward? We asked five of our top tech practice leaders for their views on the possible impact of the COVID-19 experience on this complex and evolving role. on the unprecidented rise of technology. Read the full article here

Assuming you have the technical skills and domain expertise, this is what will set post-COVID CIOs apart. Do you have what it takes?

Top Trait: Courage. Unless you’re lucky enough to be operating in the narrow band of tech industries that have boomed during lockdown, budgets will be under immense pressure. It will take considerable courage and vision to take limited capital and redeploy it on a digital strategy that many of your senior teammates do not fully understand.

Super Power: Empathy. Intuitive technology that looks at solving people’s problems is where the magic is at. The ability to put yourself in the users’ shoes – be it employees, customers or vendors - is the starting point to building a new generation of products and services that will radically differentiate you from your competitors. If you’ve already shifted from Focus Groups to Empathy Sessions, so much the better.

Top Skill: Cooperability. In the current environment, this is one notch above competency. We’re looking for the ability to successfully collaborate with a cross-disciplinary team to solve a complex, multi-faceted problem in a context that is foreign to you.

Transformation Level: Expert. We’re not talking new CRM systems here, but strategic-level changes that have created end-to-end processes out of legacy silos, or established a data-driven mindset, or addressed slowing sales by putting the customer at the centre of business operations. This is your chance to demonstrate that you have the vision and the project execution skills to land it safely.

Leadership style: Talent Magnet. The CIO can’t be everything to all. Attracting and retaining talent requires solid team-building skills that go beyond adventure sports. Inspiring people to see how they impact on business outcomes, rather than a narrow focus on merely meeting deadlines, builds loyalty and makes for happier, more engaged team members.

Preferred working mode: Networker of Note. Internally, and externally, you manage your relationships up, down and sideways, never relying on the ORG chart to do the work for you. There is just too much happening on every front, and it’s a superhuman task to stay abreast of new technology. Cultivating a good peer network that you can go to for advice and learnings is critical to your sanity and your success.

Competency: Tech-Whisperer. You take pride in driving digital literacy in your company. If the rest of your team don’t speak tech, you’ll never be able to explain the true cost of legacy technologies and the value of increased tech investment.

Bonus points: Venture Capitalist’s Eye for Innovation. You have an eye for new technologies and start-ups and include them in the vendor management mix, knowing that your traditional tech vendors can’t meet all the needs of your evolving technology roadmap

Related Practice

Technology & Telecoms