The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic has tested IT leaders, especially as it relates to how they lead their teams to meet surging customer demands for a seamless digital transformation. These demands will only continue to increase. The past year gave CIOs an opportunity to take on the lead role of being real business changemakers and accelerators, and they will continue to build on that momentum for 2021 and beyond. This new responsibility inevitably comes with its own challenges. CIOs now have more on their plate than ever before.
But, with those challenges, CIOs have a great opportunity to influence and continue to help promote and grow their service offering. CIOs should look at this year with great optimism—the company, employee, and customer experience are in their hands.
Keep calm—and keep leading us through the pandemic.
Let’s face it: While we’re on the way up, the pandemic isn’t over—and with so many businesses still in a hybrid or work from home environment, IT leaders are being called to take up that challenge. The rules are changing constantly, and CIOs in 2021 have to make their department (and the business as a whole) agile and ready for anything, at any time. This means scaling cloud capacity and accessibility to the needs of your business, promoting and executing virtual training for remote staff, ensuring cybersecurity is on point (especially considering the volatility of everyone’s “home office”), launching new remote applications, and more. COVID-19 forced businesses across the board to react in big ways, and with so much still unknown, IT leaders need to make their businesses proactive and able to handle anything else that comes their way.
Make the digital customer experience a priority.
With everything going online, the digital customer experience has essentially become the new standard for any company to survive—and if executed properly—even thrive in this new world. As with all things digital, the CIO is responsible for bringing this to fruition. Digital services in 2021 will continue to appear as an extension of human services, and as consumers’ only interaction with the business, it’s safe to say they’re expecting a lot from it. CIOs who invest in modernizing their business with advanced machine learning and artificial intelligence will be able to put their name at the top of the customer experience game.
Defend yourself with the right cybersecurity.
As technology constantly evolves, so have hackers—meaning cybersecurity continues to be critical. Factor in the pandemic effects of “secure” offices now moving to employees’ homes (and a predominantly digital environment in general) and that criticality has only grown. Experts predict that phishing and ransomware attacks will increase in 2021, meaning CIOs need to be laser focused and implement extra security measures to protect sensitive data. On top of that, changes in the business landscape have driven more mergers and acquisitions in 2020 and 2021, forcing many IT leaders to face the challenge of securing an expanded or completely new range of systems on top of everything else.
Whether you’re a veteran CIO or taking on the role for the first time in 2021, the current digital business landscape is rife with new challenges and opportunities that put everyone on the same playing field. This “new” 2021 CIO will succeed when he or she capitalizes on the opportunity and uses technology and digitization to drive the business through real, lasting change.
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