CIOs must align to navigate businesses through COVID-19

CIOs together with other business leaders are responsible for developing a culture of lifelong learning.

The current global pandemic has forced many organisations to change the way they operate and forced many to adapt quickly to change.

It’s imperative that CIOs ensure they have effective communication skills, especially as everyone is continuing to work remotely and being unable to communicate face-to-face.

Professionals will need to be more intentional in developing good written communication skills that will translate ideas into digital documents and effectively convey data insights to others, and continue to have verbal open conversations through virtual platforms to ensure they remain accountable as well.

Communication styles will need to evolve, to become more explicit to ensure that non-verbal contexts are effectively communicated to colleagues and customers alike.

Complementary to this are project management skills, which will help employees oversee a growing range of tasks being automated. As humans graduate from menial and repetitive jobs such as data entry and manual accounting, being able to coordinate and manage a variety of automated tasks successfully will enable employees to contribute effectively and move up to higher roles.

With this in mind, CIOs together with other business leaders are responsible for developing a culture of lifelong learning, to identify technological trends and spearhead education in relevant areas, so that employees continue to contribute effectively and keep up with the demands of the market.

This includes the use of tools that foster cross-team collaborations and breaks down silos, said Terry Smagh senior vice president Asia Pacific and Japan at BlackLine – a cloud finance controls and automation vendor.

“As technology continues to accelerate changes, CIOs and CFOs must work together and align closely to secure their organisation’s future,” he said. “A united force will align IT investment with strategic growth plans and optimise business performance.”

Smagh told CIO Tech Asia for companies to remain relevant and navigate the disruption in this period, they need to assess the capabilities of employees and understand if existing team dynamics and structures are able to respond to industry changes and disruption.

“Only by doing so can they understand where the gaps are and design upskilling and retraining programs specifically tailored to their needs to address these gaps,” he said.

“This is a company-wide exercise and will require employees to be comfortable with job re-design and working with colleagues across a wide range of functions.”

Smagh said when it comes to training and upskilling initiatives, CIOs need to take on the role of the facilitator. They work with other business and team leaders to understand what these gaps are and help support the deployment of the necessary solutions.

“With the current challenges around social distancing and telecommuting, the CIO’s involvement will become all the more important, both to ensure that lessons can be delivered effectively over internal communications platforms, as well as preparing a business’ digital infrastructure for the adoption of new, agile tools and technologies that support remote working,” he said.

“This is a good opportunity for CIOs to align skill development with the company’s overall cloud strategy by identifying platforms and solutions that are delivered as-a-service, scalable, and immediately deployable to support short and medium-term transformation plans.”

According to Smagh by supporting these upskilling and training initiatives the CIO plays an important role in accelerating learning and helping teams transform and adapt faster, in response to increasing unpredictability.

“The lack of face-to-face interactions can impact the communication process resulting in more time needed to access information from disparate sources, and greater difficulty in analysing information recorded in formats and locations not easily accessible with digital tools,” he said.

Technology certainly is being used to take over certain roles and functions performed by humans, and the universe of what can currently be done is expanding every day.

However, according to observations by Deloitte, many of these efforts are focused on increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of their workforce rather than eliminating it, said Smagh.

“By allowing employees to work on more advanced and engaging tasks, the same report also notes that organisations could see lower turnover, higher morale, and increased internal innovation as employees take greater control over their roles in the workplace,” he said.

“That said, it is important for leaders to recognise that such concerns are normal, respond swiftly to allay some of these concerns.”

According to Smagh this is where having the proper resources and support systems for employees to tap on plays an important role.

“For example, ensuring that they have access to sufficient educational resources to guide their use of new technologies or recognising efforts and contributions that add value to a business’ goals,” he said. “Through effective and open communication, business leaders can reduce anxiety around new technologies, and ensure that employees are sufficiently empowered.”













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