COVID-19 Response: Long-Term Strategy for CIOs

An effective long-term strategy is essential to stay successful.
Application Innovation / Digital Optimization Strategy / IT Consulting / Software Development / Technology / Thought Leadership

COVID-19 Response: Long-Term Strategy for CIOs

COVID-19 has significantly disrupted the economy. While some companies are getting back to business, there is still an air of uncertainty. What will the future look like? How can we move forward?

The best response to these questions is for CIOs to plan for a new way of doing business. A long-term strategy is needed. The focus needs to be on developing a digital workplace strategy and identifying alternative employment modes. To boost sales, companies should create digital product extensions and contribute to data-for-good programs to improve digital literacy among employees.

As a CIO, you can either treat the current climate as a crisis or an opportunity.  Having a long-term strategy can prepare you for a possible second wave of COVID-19 and strengthen your organization. It can also set your company up for recovery and growth.

Here are the key areas that CIOs should occupy themselves with for the long term.


Develop a Digital Workplace Strategy

Lessons learned during COVID-19 are valuable for moving a company forward. One such adjustment is the move to remote workplaces. Companies would be wise to prepare for this type of employment to become a pattern for the future. With that in mind, CIOs should have a digital workplace strategy as part of their long-term plans. A digital workplace strategy should include:

  • Remote working requirements such as functions and capacity
  • Plans to promote endpoint security and bring your own device (BYOD) programs
  • Support for various devices like phones, tablets, laptops, etc.
  • Support for various channels such as websites, mobile web or apps, contact centers, etc.

Your employees must understand your remote working policies and practices. Clearly communicate them and create a written manual as a guideline for your workplace.


Identify Alternative Employment Modes

In addition to remote working, there are other employment modes that should be incorporated into your long-term strategy. These may include AI or automation, the use of freelancers or even temp employees to fill the gaps.

Automating menial work processes allows you to free up valuable employees who can use their skills and abilities in other areas where you are short-staffed.  It can also improve productivity as computers are often faster at some processes than humans are.

As remote working increases, many organizations are also less hesitant at hiring freelancers to fill in the staffing gaps. While this has often been seen as a stop-gap measure, it should now become part of your long-term strategy. Using temporary workers on projects or for specific tasks can improve productivity and be easy on your bottom line by reducing expenses like benefit payments.


Create Digital Product Extensions

The unfortunate reality post-pandemic is that most businesses are struggling. Some are overwhelmed by a sudden increase in consumer demand for their products or services. Others are facing a significant loss of revenues following a sales slump. Organizations will need to deal with one of these two realities and create a long-term strategy for their sales departments. This should include digital product extensions.

The goal for creating digital product extensions is not to do away with the traditional products or channels but to expand your reach. This is part of the resilience aspect of your long-term strategy. Consider ways that you can add a digital component to your current products. For example, appliance manufactures can introduce the Internet of Things (IoT) features to their products. By offering digital product extensions, you can create a new stream of revenue. It can also help your organization become more capable of withstanding fluctuations in the marketplace.

Another way to add to your digital offerings for customers is to expand your digital channels. Enable your sales and customer service teams to use different technologies to engage customers and collect valuable feedback. This can include social media and advanced tech like augmented reality. For example, the data and feedback from customers using your IoT features can help you improve the efficiency of your products.

CIOs can also investigate different revenue options such as subscriptions. This creates a digital offering for your customers and also provides your organization with a steady stream of income.


Contribute to Data-For-Good Programs

As the world becomes more and more digital, data literacy becomes a key skill not only for CIOs and leaders to master but for every employee at your organization. Data-for-good programs have sprung up in an effort to improve the world through the use of data. Cross-organizational sharing of data is a key element of these programs.

As part of your long-term strategy, you should encourage your employees to join the data-for-good movement. By doing this, you will be working towards improving the data literacy of your workforce as well as society as a whole. By using these data analytic tools, you’ll also improve your employees’ understanding and capability with this technology, which can be applied to other areas within your business.

As part of your long-term strategy, you should share your organizational data with these data-for-good programs. While it is important to follow privacy regulations, you can share aggregate data with others or develop conditional data-sharing agreements.


How to Implement a Long-Term Strategy

A long-term strategy will position your company for recovery and create resilience against future disruptions. When designing a long-term strategy, think beyond the six-month or one-year point. These plans are about setting you up for future success while finessing your business processes.

When it comes to implementing your long-term strategy, here are some tips:

  • Clearly define responsibilities and expectations
  • Include financial objectives and forecasts
  • Focus on the growth and goals of your organization
  • Be flexible and willing to adapt your long-term strategy if it is not working

Regardless of the impact, COVID-19 has had on your industry and your organization, developing a long-term plan is key to helping your company recover from the pandemic and develop resiliency going forward.