The pandemic tested the resilience and agility of many businesses to the max, resulting in an unparalleled rate of digital transformation.
One year on, the effects of the pandemic are still rippling across organisations. But while it’s important to learn from our hardships, we mustn’t lose sight of the silver linings that resulted from them.
If anything, the pandemic acted as the catalyst many businesses needed to usher in a new era of working, with companies turning to cloud technologies and service platforms to bolster customer interactions and securely connect remote employees.
From greater innovation, to embracing flexible working, to valuing once-overlooked employees, the benefits gained from the global disruption have shown us a new way forward when it comes to the world of work.
To better understand these incredible changes, ServiceNow partnered with IDG Connect to survey IT leaders across a variety of sectors about their experiences.
1. CIOs are taking on new responsibilities
Forced to transition to a digital environment at the start of lockdown, companies have had to rapidly change how they sell products, interact with customers, and handle delivery operations – while their workforces have had to shift to remote work practically overnight.
This process has seen CIOs taking on an increasingly important role in driving innovation and generating new revenue streams. As companies went digital, it was IT leaders that shouldered many of the responsibilities and powered much of the urgently-needed digital transformation.
Digital now finds itself right at the heart of business strategy, and impacts almost every business function without exception. Given this wealth of new responsibility, what does the future hold for IT leaders?
With the unique insights into digital transformation they’ve gained during the pandemic, many CIOs see CEO roles as a logical next step. Indeed 96% of those we surveyed saw this as a likely development for businesses in the future.
One thing’s for sure: the CIO role has changed, and it looks like it will continue to change as IT leaders take on more strategic roles in their companies.
2. Transformation is set to continue
The end of the pandemic can’t see businesses return to how things were before.
Luckily, those leaders we surveyed showed no sign of slowing down. Most intend to embrace further changes this year, aiming to continue transforming operations and modernise processes well beyond 2021.
A significant proportion of those companies we spoke to are prioritising further investment in IT infrastructure and operations, taking the opportunity to resolve issues leftover from the dash to digital at the start of the pandemic. And many of the rest intend to do so once their businesses have stabilised following the pandemic.
Given the surge in demand for eCommerce over the past eighteen months, improving customer experience will be a particularly important area for development. IT has a key role to play here, as companies look to further adopt the likes of self-service tools, smartphone apps, and chatbots to better serve their customers.
The direction of travel is clear: transformation is set to continue, and IT teams will lead the charge.
3. Hybrid work is the future
The pandemic has effectively done what countless surveys, studies, and white papers could not – normalise home working.
Eighteen months of working remotely has seen many employees enjoy greater work-life flexibility as lengthy commutes made way for hobbies and more time with family.
Organisations have also benefited, seeing increased productivity and better performance.
With lockdown lifting, many companies are now trying to decide the best way forward for their employees. Many are eyeing either a permanent “work from anywhere” policy or plan, or taking a more hybrid approach.
But both options aren’t without their challenges.
This is where the role of CIOs really comes into focus, as organisations need to establish the right technology and platforms to facilitate connection, engage employees, and protect business data.
To ensure that technology helps, rather than restricts, collaboration and workflows, IT leaders will need to design a remote work strategy backed by an innovative digital environment.
But with the right tools and approach, that’s far simpler than it might seem.
For the full story on how the UK businesses are innovating, read the whitepaper here.