It’s astonishing how a tiny virus has reshaped our workforce, economy, and social norms. COVID-19 has shifted entire paradigms from accepted best practices — and the pandemic isn’t done with us. While we don’t know yet if our shifts in IT tactics and labor usage rates are permanent, we do know that corporations must prepare for an emerging future state that cannot be predicted by prior data. What scenarios lie ahead for IT teams as we approach the fourth quarter of a tumultuous year?
Evolving IT priorities during and after COVID-19
It’s safe to assume most IT leaders downgraded their efforts to launch new projects during COVID-19. Instead, their focus has been on ensuring business continuity as IT evolved into a remote workforce. As the virus morphed into a long-term problem, how have IT resource allocation and priorities changed during COVID?
The answer for the c-suite to date has been to stay as far ahead of the curve as they can with little prior data to guide their responses. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to require massive pivots in our approach to doing business at almost every level. While many IT budgets are currently holding steady, we’ve seen holds placed on hiring and training internal resources over the past six months as well.
Initially, many organizations shifted precious overhead budget from innovation projects toward ramping up their at-home infrastructures, adding VPNs, purchasing laptops, and shoring up security. It’s almost certain these budgets will feel the pinch later on. CIO reports 35% of the CIO’s polled recently said their IT budgets are expected to contract next year.
Many business processes also have evolved rapidly. The best and most consistent example of this is the evolution toward remote work but there have been shifts in go-to-market strategies impacting IT as well. In light of these changes, many in the c-suite and on the front lines are likely wondering, “What’s the future of work when so much seems unsafe and uncertain?”
Using IT to provide a safer working environment
One new and unexpected priority in the wake of COVID-19 is the imperative to keep our workers safe as they return to work. The c-suite is turning to IT to help provide a safer working environment. CIO says:
- 58% of IT leaders report they are considering an investment in smart personal hygiene devices such as automated connected hand sanitizer stations for their returning workforce.
- 36% say they will use connected sensors to allow workers to check in from home, eliminating manual processes at the front door.
- 35% of CIOs say they’re considering infrared thermometers for corporate departments.
- 25% report evaluation of Internet of Things (IoT) thermal scanners that check employee temperatures on the go, then alert management if the worker has a fever.
Also, AI video security tools can automate the detection of employees or visitors that fail to use masks or that lack social distancing. All of these tools have one thing in common: They are the latest indications of evolving technology and innovation priorities in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. How will the c-suite face the challenges ahead and how will their strategies continue to change in the fourth quarter of this tumultuous year?
IT resource allocation in 2021
A post-pandemic world is coming, but not, perhaps, until 2021. CIOs will continue to lead enterprise organizations long after COVID-19, but there is no doubt our resources and priorities will shift in the coming months. What will happen to digital transformation initiatives? How will IT and physical security priorities shift? What will IT service delivery look like next year? The answer is simple: We don’t know.
There is no data to define our efforts within the framework of the COVID-19 experience. The one thing we can count on is that technology will continue to be called upon as a resource to guide everything from sales to business operations. From developing e-commerce sites with virtual reality that walk the consumer safely through a contactless digital retail storefront, to new tools to keep our workers safer within the confines of our corporate buildings, IT will continue to lead us through these uncharted waters.
Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, the c-suite looks to the Windsor Group Sourcing Advisory for their counsel. We are pleased to stand alongside our enterprise clients to provide expert counsel to improve their business outcomes. Start the conversation with our team to be better prepared for 2021 and beyond.