Re-examining Priorities for CIOs & CTOs: Choosing Technology That is Critical to Survival

While there’s no telling how the COVID-19 pandemic will impact organizations long-term, it is clear that there’s presently an effect on IT budgeting. A Tech Republic survey found that 20 percent of respondents are unsure of their budgets, a spike from nine percent the year prior. And, almost two-thirds of respondents are already planning a tighter budget.

Organizations have been focused on security, cloud services and remote technology to get through a uniquely challenging period. Some organizations are postponing major projects. Very few report that COVID-19 hasn’t impacted anything.

Fit Organizations and Fragile Organizations: Knowing the Difference

If you are a CIO or CTO, you may be wondering how, exactly, you can move your organization forward in a time of economic uncertainty. When organizations are dealing with potential economic downturns, there are two scenarios they’re likely to encounter according to Gartner. 

Fit organizations use IT as a way to excel, by investing in technology critical to survival. Fragile organizations might survive, but they are far more likely to fall behind their competitors who fall into the fit category.

So, what makes an organization fit versus fragile? It’s all about the way organizations handle the turns that threaten stability and profitability. Fragile organizations focus on their short-term survival, doing what needs to be done to continue existing. They might make it through the storm, but they will probably be just as unprepared for the next one. It’s a scary thought, especially as experts predict disruptions will come more frequently. 

How Fit Organizations Handle Turns

A fit organization centralizes its digital foundations and its funding of general innovation. Critically, a fit organization has a responsive technology funding model, too. These organizations are adaptive and can focus on the value of delivery rather than the cost impact. 

In a Smarter with Gartner article, George Brocklehurst says that CEOs need to be proactive rather than reactive. Major turns, like the COVID-19 pandemic, lead to major and permanent changes. Responding after the fact leaves an organization struggling. A proactive approach gives time and resources to capitalize on opportunities.

In times of uncertainty, many organizations stop discretionary spending, reduce staff, and otherwise try to save, according to Brocklehurst. These are the fragile organizations. A fit organization is prepared for the long term and already thinking about recovery. It’s all about cost-optimization when looking at tech spending.

A McKinsey report looks at the digital recovery from COVID-19, echoing much of what Gartner’s experts say. According to McKinsey, “Strange as it may seem, right now, in a moment of crisis, is precisely the time to boldly advance your digital agenda.” Now is the time to look at your organization, end to end, and determine what it needs to survive. 

What Survival Looks Like in the Tech World

Only you, as a CIO or CTO, can know exactly what technology your organization needs to survive. For many organizations, it is all about remote work capabilities, recognizing that the new normal of WFH might be here to stay. For others, investments in cybersecurity, cloud computing, or user experience will take precedence.

Members of the Forbes Technology Council offered their own predictions as to what investments companies will be making in 2021. 

Bob Fabien Zinga, cybersecurity executive, highlights the previously mentioned proactive approach. He notes that the pandemic has taught the importance of investing in IT before the storm, with the most agile organizations best prepared to adapt quickly. He sees cloud migration as a crucial investment for survival, ensuring that those who have not completed their digital journey can get there quickly.

Another council member, Chris Purcell, suggests cybersecurity education for employees is critical especially as workers remain remote. Tony Pepper adds that insider threat solutions are another critical component, and that organizations must understand that vulnerabilities are internal, especially with remote work.

Other critical technologies outlined by the panel include digital sales tools, employee engagement software, self-service models, and AI-driven knowledge management. Communication automation, desktop as a service, and machine learning also number in their priorities.

This shows how varied your organization’s roadmap to survival can be. Whatever technologies are key, your organization should have them in place and learn from any challenges or losses owing to COVID-19. Then, when the next disruption comes, you will be ahead of the competition.

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