Co-authored by Patricia Way, Consultant, Infosys Consulting.

There is a ‘new normal’ in the way business is planning and operating to survive and thrive in the post-COVID world.  The pandemic has rattled major industries and exposed the weakness of existing business models and technology solutions.  The economic tailspin of 2020 provided impetus for CIOs to re-think their role in charting a course for their organizations in this new normal ahead.

We share five insights from across the market to restore organizational resilience and sustainability in 2021 and beyond.

 

1. CIOs CAN LEAD THE BUSINESS MODULARITY AGENDA FOR ENTERPRISE AGILITY

To face the challenges of being customer-focused, nimble, and resilient in a post-COVID world, organizations need to rethink their operating models.  A shift needs to be undertaken from designing organizations as integrated monoliths to composite enterprises made up of independent and autonomous modules of capability that can be stitched together quickly and re-arranged to meet changing market needs.  These ‘composite organizations’ require need thinking in terms of how digital assets and enterprise systems are built as ‘building blocks’, with a need to invest in orchestration and adaptability as key leadership capabilities.

From a business strategy perspective, a well-managed modular organization would be more agile, have more resilience, less transition complexity, and lower costs.  CIOs are well schooled in designing modularity in software and so are well placed to take this principle to the organizational design level.  Gartner predicts that organizations that embrace business modularity will have more adaptive and resilient enterprises.

 

2. Drive Resilience in Digital Design

If there is a lesson to take out of the last year of global upheaval, it is that ‘once a century’ risks do occur, and need to be planned for rather than discounted as unlikely.  It is well documented that as humans, we have problems properly calibrating the risk of unlikely, but catastrophic events, so our systems need to be adjusted to compensate for this bias in our decision-making.  While it may not be a global pandemic that we have to plan for, the risks associated with climate change and geopolitical instability give us enough cause for concern that significant disruptive events will occur in the future.

Over the last five years, CIOs have become well-practiced at ensuring their digital and systems design processes incorporate leading principles in security, agility, and user experience.  In the new normal, enterprise resilience will also have to be a key focus of requirements in design.  No longer will it be leading practice to just stress test end-to-end performance and infrastructure and have a well-planned business continuity strategy.  Organizations that learn from the last year will re-think the approach to design, incorporating capabilities such as being able to ‘operate anywhere’ at full productivity.

 

3. Mentor the scaling of AI

Most organizations now have a handle on their data assets and have in place platforms and tools that enable advanced analytics to perform and AI-centric services to design.  However, many organizations are finding that AI experiments and prototypes that are successful in an incubation environment are difficult to scale to the enterprise level with the same success.

To move to the next level, CIOs should take a mentoring role in how data and AI are used to drive enterprise value at scale.  To do this successfully, we suggest CIOs learn from case studies of commercializing innovation.  One approach that is likely to succeed is seeing each data initiative as a venture, which requires a focus on its market, users, and scalability to succeed.  In this way, CIOs can help their teams of data scientists and technologists balance their approach towards the customer and market for their algorithm, rather than just the technical issues.

 

4. Force the strategic link between cloud infrastructure and business agility

The topic of cloud transformation has made its way into the boardroom, but have cloud transformations delivered the business adaptability and agility that they were touted to deliver?

Many organizations have seen significant cost benefits from moving their technical landscape to the cloud – infrastructure and maintenance costs have significantly reduced.  Yet many organizations are to take the next step and create cloud-based operating models that enable business agility, as well as new abilities to successfully respond to market changes and experiment with new growth ventures.  CIOs can play a major role in helping enterprises find growth in the new normal by creating cloud-based platforms for new service design and business innovation.  Partnering and collaboration between product management teams and IT teams will be critical to enable this innovation capability.

 

5.Get serious about diversity and inclusion

The great lesson of 2020 is never to take the status quo for granted.  As we surge forward in 2021 and start with our agendas for the new normal, CIOs need to be planning to build organizational capabilities and cultures that will thrive under new operating conditions and expectations.  Those capabilities will need to be more creative and innovative than before, willing to test assumptions and question traditional approaches while appreciating diverse points of view and ways of seeing the world.

Putting diversity and inclusion on the CIO agenda in 2021 is an important business priority, as teams that are more diverse give different perspectives on problem-solving, and more inclusive cultures bring these different perspectives into more innovative solutions.

The last year has been a once in a century experience, having challenged our old ways of working and how we saw the role of technology in business strategy.  As we accept the ‘new normal’ we are living and working in, we can see a new agenda for how the CIO becomes a business executive enabling growth, innovation, and resilience for the enterprise

Roger Gibson

Roger Gibson

Head, APAC Region and Communications, Media and Entertainment Practice

Roger joined Infosys Consulting in 2015 to lead the set-up and growth of the telcomms practice in the region. He also played a key role in establishing a number of large energy and utility clients for us, and has expanded our office and consultant presence throughout Australia. Today he also serves as our APAC regional head, looking after our talented teams in Singapore, Hong Kong, Sydney and Melbourne. Roger has a rich background in transformational change, both as an executive and a consultant, and has focused primarily on infrastructure-based industries. He has over 20 years of experience working in various leadership roles at Telstra, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Downer Engineering. Roger graduated from the University of South Wales with a master’s degree in commerce.

Patricia Way

Patricia Way

Consultant

Patricia entered the consulting scene over 4.5 years ago and has never looked back. She brings a positive attitude to her advisory roles across projects in utilities, public service, finance, and telecommunications. Patricia is inspired by research and the co-creation of solutions that address complex problems and trends facing CIOs and the ever-changing nature of business transformation.

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