These challenging times will help you separate partners—who can stand with you in this lean period—from vendors
There is no denying that the COVID-19 pandemic—the way it came and impacted our daily lives, business and economy—is unprecedented; we have never seen something like that in our lifetime.
But responding effectively to a challenge is not necessarily dependent on how big or new the challenge is or whether you have successfully anticipated how it would impact you. Rather, it depends on how adaptive you are.
As Darwin said, it is not the most powerful—but those who can adapt to change effectively—would survive.
Adaptability is in the DNA of the CIOs. Experienced CIOs have seen and faced many such challenges in the past, whether it was Y2K or natural disasters.
You cannot foresee and plan exact details for each such possible scenario, but you can make yourself so adaptive that you can quickly adapt to new situations.
So, it didn't take long for most CIOs to respond to the unique, unprecedented challenging situation in the wake of COVID-19.
It was a question of survival for many businesses. More importantly, it was a question of survival of our lives, our economy. Imagine if the logistics companies or pharma companies or essential goods manufacturers would have stopped their operations! It is technology that kept them—and the country—running.
Getting everyone remotely connected was the first basic challenge and with various options of collaboration platforms like MS Teams, Zoom, Google Meet and WebEx were put to use. Security was the key issue once everyone is connected. Remote monitoring, filtering, restricted access management were all part of the CIOs’ plans to ensure smooth transition of work from office to work from home.
There is much discussion around if CIOs’ roles have changed post-COVID. I don’t think the role per se has changed but challenges have surely increased . Value of digitization is realized now across sectors and now expectation is for faster solutions. The main challenge which CIOs have is to do more with lesser budgets as all industries are facing challenges of business growth. So smarter CIOs like a smart housewife has to make a dish with whatever is available in her kitchen. Cloud and remote connectivity are two pillars for any ongoing digital journey which has to be planned by IT departments.
Today, we see many vendors claiming to have all the solutions for Business Continuity Planning (BCP), post-COVID world and so on. But I feel it is time to test the commitment. Most vendors have called themselves partners.
The word partner will be put to test now. You will realize in this situation who are your vendors and who are your partners. Companies invested in technologies and keeping in view of expected growths platforms were ramped up, now challenge is: are your partners/vendors ready to support you in ramping down for the lean period?
Now, the challenge is most of the partners will try to offer freebies but ask of all CIOs across industries is to help in reducing operating cost presently. Now the concern is if a partner acts like a vendor, many digital platforms which are not financially viable presently will be phased out and they will be replaced by low cost options. Hopefully, good sense will prevail in large ERP, Cloud, Connectivity providers to ensure they have long-term strategic relationships as part of their vision.
The author is CIO at Luminous Power Technologies