A CIOs guide to extreme challenges

A CIOs guide to extreme challenges

No greater test has been given to CIOs than that which they now face during the global pandemic. However, to raise to the occasion they must be able to;

  • Filter the clutter and focus on what is crucial to maintaining productivity
  • Have a crisis plan in place so as not to left out in the cold.
  • Make sure your focus is on elastic solutions that can adapt to changing scenarios
  • Focus on better communication so everyone is always up to date.


COVID-19 has forever altered the operating climate for most businesses worldwide. The past few months have shown what preparedness and the lack of it can cause in the life of businesses and countries. No more time in the history of the world has the leadership needed to play a greater role than now. According to UN reports over 45 million businesses will close due to the pandemic; revenue and efficiency being one of the reasons for their closure.

The stage is set for CIOs to position themselves in leadership roles and help their peers, subordinates and bosses understand how technology can be used effectively to respond to the threat of the pandemic and a return to growth.

This is a guide to what CIOs need to do to face extreme challenges.

Determine what’s crucial

The role of the CIO in this pandemic is foremost business continuity. Due to the lockdown in most countries, there’s been a significant spike in the demand for remote working capacity. The CIO must identify each employee’s unique situation and be able to meet the requirements of each role the employee plays in the organization. Whether it’s recommending the best webcams for video meetings or the best noise cancellation headphones.

Identification of critical business processes is also a must, as new requirements and constraints are being brought about due to the pandemic.

It is the job of the CIO also to design a new framework for the hiring, scheduling and paying of workers at a time when organizational structures are fast-changing and the terrain requires speed and continuity. Additionally, processes such as sourcing, procurement, purchases and payments must be strong enough to perform with the changing times and flexible enough to withstand the changes the pandemic has brought on the business world.

Initiate readjustment

Business continuity in this pandemic starts with business readjustment and alignment. Three ways a CIO can achieve this is:

Ensuring that critical systems of the system are able to perform due to varying external factors. CIOs need to ensure service delivery to every employee over varying network bandwidth and scaling. They need to anticipate issues with performance and allocate additional resources where needed. Service delivery should be topmost within the organization and with their service providers.

Ensuring that the systems that support important business structures must be closely monitored and response to spikes and loads treated with a close eye on capability and capacity.

Creation of dashboards that monitors the health of each employee across the organization. This ensures that potential performance issues are treated with speed and with the necessary tools.

Create a crisis plan

This should be the first thing but no one was prepared for the coronavirus. All we’ve been doing is putting out fires as they start. In between putting out technology issues, the CIO must create an inventory of mission-critical systems with their IT team and the steps that need to be taken to ensure the efficient running of said systems.

Systems will degrade in performance. Timelines and action to be taking on each timeline should be decided and prepared for accordingly

Maintenance of critical systems. The IT team must scale with automation at every point and be on standby for triage and stabilization of the critical processes.

Simplification and streamlining of processes for the users and the creation of fewer interfaces to reduce the support load of the IT team.

Agility and responsiveness should be the watchword at every stage of the IT stack.

Build for hyper-elasticity

For overall network bandwidth, CIOs must ensure they have sufficient bandwidth to handle external demand from remote workers. Usually, 75% of network bandwidth is outward, but with the work flipping caused by the pandemic, the CIO must ensure the organization network has the capability to meet such demand.

This is to ensure that any and every employee is able to access any tool they need to their jobs at home and conduct video meetings without glitches, lag, or downtime. And this must be on both computers and mobile phones as the need arises.

The CIO must ensure that the shift to cloud-based storage is seamless and quick. Funding might need to be provided for this shift and focus must be on elasticity and resilience of processes.

Communication is key

The world is on lockdown; employees must now work from home. The major outcome of this is that more and more time is spent on communication between peers and departments. Inquiries that could be done face to face now require network facilities to be achieved via video communication. The communication must now be clear and frequent.

Communication via electronic means might make employees feel more isolated. It’s the job of the CIO to ensure not just one channel is used for communication. If more emails are sent, the CIO must advise on other means of communication like chats, videos or audio calls. They must make sure the human element is not lost in communication and ensure that the channels of communication are simple, engaging, and human

Support the IT team

The IT workers too will be mainly working from home and the tools they need to do the extra workload caused by the pandemic must be effective and flexible enough for them to do their jobs anywhere they are in the globe.

Training and guides must be available to educate the IT workers on setting up and running of a remote workplace. Hours of work must also be flexible so each member of the team can have enough time for their family or be able to visit a sick family or friend. Feedback systems will help in keeping their morale up and reporting of issues that need addressing.

Testing is also critical to ensure that remote IT and other organizational staffs have the proper tools and that those tools are updated and secure.

Last words

These are trying times and everyone must strive to do their best as the world copes with the effect of the pandemic. The CIO will play a pivotal role in the life and growth of an organization. Their ability to react, respond, and return issues will spell either the life or death of the organization.


written by NEWcruitment Switzerland, the Leading Technology Talent Agency Specializing in Senior IT Architects and IT Engineers in Switzerland

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