9 Areas of focus for CIOs during COVID-19 outbreak

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A top CIO needs many skills; agility, careful planning, improvisation and the ability to be calm under pressure. And with the outbreak of COVID-19 throwing a lot of companies’ 2020 plans out the window, it is crucial that the CIO is there to steady the ship, unite their team and keep them motivated to deliver on a new set of goals.


Before any company can return to some form of business as usual or move towards a new revolutionary way of working, the CIO needs to ensure his team are set up correctly for success, singing from the same hymn sheet and reaching the people they need to to keep business on track. Therefore, here are 9 areas of focus for CIOs during the COVID-19 outbreak.


1) Improve IT systems for remote working

As the outbreak has progressed more and more people are being forced to work from home. Some may already have experience of this but for the majority it will introduce fresh challenges as they will not be prepared to do so if for example, they are working from office desktops or don’t have the phone capabilities to seamlessly transition to their new environment.


Ensure that your employees are fully equipped to thrive in their new surroundings with up to date software and any additional tools needed to make their new office space feel like their old one. There is still uncertainty as to how long these measures will be in place, so keeping your staff happy is essential.


2) Security & network support

Many organisations will have strict rules and guidelines about the sharing of data and the fear of releasing or exposing that data outside of the office. However, as people are being forced to take work laptops and equipment outside the confines of the business this fear is unavoidable. Therefore it is key that all security measures possible are implemented across all work tools to ensure sensitive data is not accidently lost or stolen.


3) Application Review

In a similar vein, the applications within your company may be reviewed and updated periodically, whether that be yearly or at pre-set times in the year. With your staff potentially being away from the office for several months, it’s important that every application you use is running at its full potential to avoid progress being slowed down or even halted in its tracks.


4) Open comms 

As mentioned previously, it is key your staff are equipped with the correct communication technology to do their jobs whether it be with suppliers, customers etc. However it is also key that the lines of communication are clear and open between them and you, the business. Daily or weekly updates, team meetings, conference calls. It is important that they know you are always there at the end of the phone, especially in these times of uncertainty.


5) A single source of truth for your employees 

With all your employees working in separate locations, some of varying skill sets and levels and the ability to speak to all of them very difficult, it’s very important to try and get everyone to work towards one goal. Working in the cloud allows everyone to see everything that is being worked on at once and allows all important information to be imparted to everyone in real time, setting out clear guidelines and goals to avoid treading on each other’s toes.


6) Alert and Notification

Much like it would be in a normal office setting, the news of any kind of breach or security issue needs to be known about and addressed as quickly as possible to avoid a major catastrophe. Introducing alert or notification programmes can allow any employee to flag up any potential issue for a quick response and eradication of trouble.


7) Cost containment

For any business, keeping down costs is a hard but necessary process to avoid wasting money that can be earmarked for more important projects or purchases. With offices being closed indefinitely, there are still things that need to remain in place for employees to work, although there will be areas where savings can be made. Create a plan and sweep your facilities to determine where spending can be curbed while people are working from home.


8) Leverage technology to address customer demand 

Remember, everyone is in the same situation, be they customers, suppliers or other businesses. As a result, some industries may struggle to succeed under traditional methods, which mean many will be forced to change their approach in terms of the channels they work in and the products they sell. With many advances in digital technology including virtual meetings being utilised more each day, it can be useful to look into new avenues of working at your disposal to reach out to people in new and innovative ways.


9) Train, review and improve

We all make mistakes. Rarely do we get things right the first time and given how quick we found ourselves in this situation, things are bound to slip our minds. There will be some employees relatively new who are not as advanced as others. Some may struggle with their new environment. Never stand still. Always look for ways to develop people, process and technology to make everyone’s lives easier and improve output and service, no matter how small.


To learn more about COVID-19 and the UK’s current guidelines regarding the outbreak, the link to the government’s website can be found here.


To learn about our upcoming Digital Boardrooms here.

Global CIO Institute

Administrator, GB Intelligence Ltd

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