How Asia-Pacific CIOs responded to COVID-19\n\nFollowing the hard-hitting sucker punch delivered by COVID-19, the world is slowly sobering up to the social and economic realities of such a devastating pandemic. Whether in Bangkok or Brisbane, Ahmedabad or Auckland, businesses are adjusting in real time as market dynamics continue to shift at pace, placing the CIO at the epicentre of such response efforts.\n\nEditors from the CIO editions in ASEAN, Australia, New Zealand and India have joined forces to share in-market challenges, key lessons and examples of best practice across the Asia-Pacific region during the COVID-19 pandemic:\n\nThese insights were delivered during a recorded virtual roundtable, offering on-the-ground commentary from IDG\u2019s editors in Singapore, Sydney, Auckland and Mumbai.\n\nIn a world where IT runs business, organisations and its stakeholders and employees are bearing the brunt of the pandemic. With company executives working from home during lockdown in India, technology leaders are providing secure tools to the workforce, while investing in collaboration and digital technologies to maintain productivity and minimise business disruption.\n\nThis is no longer a case of business as usual but now of digital business as usual in the post-COVID-19 era.\n\nSales ranks as the most affected department in India according to CIO findings, prompting technology leaders to keep both \u2014 lights and innovation \u2014 on. Still, the majority of IT leaders (65 per cent) surveyed have currently deferred or paused IT projects across the country.\n\nAs a result, CIOs are expanding the three basic R\u2019s for survival \u2014 re-engineer, re-imagine and re-invent \u2014 to be the four R\u2019s, which includes re-skilling. This represents a complete reset of organisations and human lives as the market tries to apply Lean processes and rework manpower, assets and technology.\n\nAs findings suggest, COVID-19 will also create increased business-outcome conversations between CIOs and other C-suite executives. Workshops are being conducted across Indian cities to help CIOs better understand the financial elements of IT projects and cost-saving strategies. In a way, CIOs are set to become the new CFO \u2014 chief focused officer \u2014 as they recalibrate technology bets to ensure maximum benefits with minimal costs.\n\nPerhaps unsurprisingly, COVID-19 has triggered a major shift in technology investments among Indian CIOs, with security (56 per cent), collaboration (52 per cent), mobility (49 per cent) and cloud (36 per cent) emerging as new priorities, according to CIO India findings. On the flip side, CIOs are moving away from data centre infrastructure and capex investments, favouring cloud services and colocation services instead.\n\nSpecific to digital, transformation is galloping down the hill sporting \u2018how much digital is too little\u2019 blinkers as technology leaders build an agile, intelligent, multi-cloud, hacker-proof and data rich organisation.\n\nWorking from home is now the new normal in India, with Tata Consultancy Services planning to have 75 per cent (up from 20 per cent) of its 450,000 employees (350,000 of whom are in India) permanently work from home by 2025. Meanwhile, Kris Gopalakrishnan, co-founder of IT services firm Infosys, said that more than 1 million IT employees are expected to continue working from home even after the COVID-19 crisis ends.\n\nIndian CIOs have worn or need to wear a superhero suit to weather the COVID-19 storm and emerge winners for employees, stakeholders and customers.