Welcome to the fourth installment of our CIO Extreme IT Strategies to Navigate the COVID-19 Pandemic webinar conducted by Cloud4C, where IT Leaders from reputed organizations in the Middle East region participated as panelists and shared their experiences and views on the above questions raised by the audience.
In the first blog post, we spoke about the measures taken by these IT leaders to deal with the new world order. Cost optimization measures and value optimization decisioning were also discussed. You can read the first part here. The second post discusses the likely outcome of the COVID-19 crisis in terms of cost reduction vs cost optimization here. We also discussed the role of technology in organizations, especially, B2C companies in our third post here.
Infrastructure has for long been considered an expense, and is treated as such. Technology, however, is fast becoming an investment in terms of the value it creates for the organization.
The journey to the cloud has been picking up pace in the recent years. In the light of the pandemic crisis, cloud technology has shown the immense value it has for companies during even emergencies. Organizations had to revisit their business strategies, and even growth forecasts in this unprecedented time. Companies that have already been on this journey have benefited from the agility, and scalability of the technology to cater to customer needs seamlessly. It has been possible to scale up and down overnight due to the cloud capabilities. So we expect the cloud journey to be further accelerated as organizations prepare for business in the new normal.
Our panelists agree that the future will see a turbulent recovery curve. They were happy to share their insights into how businesses can get ready for it.
Chief Information Officer at RAK Ceramics, UAE
“We are not yet out of the crisis. Recovery is most likely going to be turbulent, and we don’t know for sure how the new normal is going to look like. So organizations worldwide will focus
on becoming truly agile. Agility will be the measure of how well organizations can thrive in a crisis-like situation where it can face challenges successfully.
Creating long-term strategies at this time may not be wise. True, there will have to be a framework for how to proceed, but it will have to be flexible enough to adapt to the day-to-day changes. As per changing situations, organizations have to be dynamic. For CIOs, the priority will be to make IT infrastructure and solutions more agile. Whatever opportunity presents itself, IT has to enable organizations to capitalize immediately.
The best example is the Cloud, which has given a lot of adaptability to businesses today, including ours. Going forward, we will be deploying IBM’s Watson, which will factor in the probable crises and potential solutions for them. We will undoubtedly be in an even stronger position in the future.
Businesses will have to be ready for a lot of things, as barriers fall down further in the aftermath of the crisis. Organizations, and teams, will have to be ready for multiple things. So investments will also be geared towards responding to business challenges and be ready for quicker responses.”
I would say that the role of the CIO too is evolving again. What is expected of us post-Covid will be different. Our focus will have to shift towards technology that will bring us the highest value return on expenditure. Agility and decreased response times have to be the priority for organizational investment and strategy.
We believe that AI will find greater acceptance in achieving business goals. We are at the beginning of the AI journey, and will find acceleration in the aftermath of this crisis.
Shafique R Ibrahim
Group IT Head - AL FARDAN GROUP
We have to accept that Work from home is not a luxury anymore but a necessity. We foresee that this situation would continue for a year or two at least.
Our concerns at this time are about maintaining and enhancing employee productivity when working remotely. On the CIO, there will be additional responsibility of driving change while pushing organizational strategy. And no matter how much we prioritize technology, CIOs have to drive the change in employees as well so they can add value at every step.
From the IT perspective, we have seen organizations, industries, and even customers change over time. This has helped us always be ready for changes. We were able to face turbulent challenges and now it is up to us to drive our organizations through this challenge. Going forward, organizations have to be able to adapt to change and to challenges.
The world has irreversibly changed due to the pandemic, but we have to remember that it is not over yet. Recovery will be gradual, and will take some months or years. This is the new normal, for people and for businesses.
Organizations have to reconsider their strategies and make immediate plans. Long term plans will have to be laid out only after the situation stabilizes. Instead, they should focus on building organizational and technological agility that empowers them to face crises like this and thrive. Not only outward technology facing customers, but also organizational management technology. There will be a move towards remote working, so companies will have to learn to make that work on a larger scale than they have till now.
There will be additional responsibilities on CIOs to help business leaders navigate this period with relevant advice and solutions. They will have to ensure business continuity among various departments, while accelerating growth and development.