Coronavirus crisis spurs IT innovation

The coronavirus crisis sees CIOs accelerating their adoption of automation, analytics and new processes to cope with the pandemic’s disruptions and steer the enterprise forward in uncertain times.

As the coronavirus began ravaging New York’s Suffolk County in March, desperate health department officials turned to CIO Scott Mastellon for help processing citizens’ lab tests for COVID-19. But with the state averaging 400 COVID-19 cases a day, compiling, printing and sorting reports for health-care staff proved unwieldy for the 12 people who were manually moving data between systems.

His staff overwhelmed, Mastellon turned to robotic process automation (RPA). Within 11 days, Mastellon had deployed three bots to extract data from the state’s website, move it into a database, then push it into the health department’s case management application with a high degree of accuracy, Mastellon says. The staff who were entering the data are now working on other COVID-19 support services for a county buckled by the pandemic. “Everything is electronic today,” Mastellon says. “It really is a home run.”

Suffolk County’s story is just one example of an emerging trend across many industries. Although there is currently no vaccination for COVID-19, the pandemic has been a booster shot, spurring organizations to abandon deliberation and accelerate innovation, CIOs and experts say. Sixty-one percent of 414 IT and business experts surveyed by IDG in April are accelerating their digital transformation efforts.

"A lot of organizations are viewing this as the shock to the system that has accelerated everything that they’ve been doing,” says Scott Snyder, who heads the digital and innovation practice for Heidrick Consulting.

The drive for more data

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