It is one of the most talked-about topics in large companies: the role of technology in the post-pandemic era, which has not only driven huge changes in how we work, but also many other areas of life. Managing technology has always been difficult, with managers praying for decades to be able to distinguish real trends from mere fads sold to them by consultants, but the change of context over the last 18 months has made things even more difficult.
What issues should CIOs or CTOs of large companies be working on right now? How much has their agenda changed from that of February 2020, just before the pandemic brought the world to a halt?
First of all, we should take one thing into account: companies that had already begun their digital transformation before the pandemic were generally able to maintain their operations and activities without too much disruption than those that had not. Companies that were already using the cloud and had established reasonably automated processes were able to tell most of their essential workers, those not directly linked to customer service or the use of specialized machines, to work from home. Those who, in March 2020, had to put in place the necessary protocols to do so obviously had a much harder time. This is just to put into context the value of technology or the importance of a good CIO’s decisions.
What have we learned from the pandemic in this regard, and what is now on the agenda of leading CIOs? First of all, the cloud. It’s still there, because it’s the logical working environment, the one that offers the most flexibility, the most secure, the one that allows us to eliminate more worries and have our staff focus on value-added tasks, and it’s the cheapest. But nothing is free: to obtain these advantages we have to use our imagination, we have to avoid dependence on a single supplier that can make us captive or reduce our bargaining power, and we have to re-train a large part of the workforce.
Another important workhorse is automation: at this stage, employing people to do purely routine tasks that a machine can do better, faster and with fewer errors is characteristic of old-fashioned companies. Hyper-automation of all kinds of processes is part of every CIO’s agenda, and makes sense because it differentiates competitive companies from non-competitive ones.
Without a doubt, data analytics and machine learning, which was a hot topic for some time before the pandemic, are still there: now, possibly, offering a more pragmatic and practical approach. Companies are tired of doing “projects” in “handcrafted” programming languages that they can’t put into production, and rather than reinventing the wheel are using reliable tools that don’t require programming for every correlation or regression, allowing organizations to change analysis algorithms at the click of a button without having to rewrite lines of code.
And last but not least, people management. For IT departments, getting the right people has become a fundamental factor, especially considering that the technology field in general, and those dedicated to development in particular, have been able to prove their ability to work remotely. Given that, in addition, we’re talking about labor markets with low unemployment and mobility, people tend to demand conditions they wouldn’t have before the pandemic, which may be a challenge for many companies, but have to be taken into account by companies that want to attract the right talent. Companies also face another major technological challenge: training the workforce in areas such as security, one of the greatest challenges of the moment, and one that depends fundamentally on what is always the weakest link: the employee.
In many ways, technology-related areas have become the vanguard of many of the changes that corporate environments will undergo in the near future. Does this sound familiar? Are these the issues your CIO talks about in meetings? Is your company ready for the new context?
This post was previously published on Medium.com.
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