APAC pandemic lessons: New normal triggers change in priorities in India

Editorial leaders from CIO editions in ASEAN, Australia, New Zealand and India share in-market challenges, key lessons and examples of best practice during COVID-19.

In 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.

This is no longer a case of business as usual but now of digital business as usual in the post-COVID-19 era.

Sales ranks as the most affected department in India according to CIO findings, prompting technology leaders to keep both — lights and innovation — on. Still, the majority of IT leaders (65 per cent) surveyed have currently deferred or paused IT projects across the country.

As a result, CIOs are expanding the three basic R’s for survival — re-engineer, re-imagine and re-invent — to be the four R’s, 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.

As 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 — chief focused officer — as they recalibrate technology bets to ensure maximum benefits with minimal costs.

Perhaps 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.

Specific to digital, transformation is galloping down the hill sporting ‘how much digital is too little’ blinkers as technology leaders build an agile, intelligent, multi-cloud, hacker-proof and data rich organisation.

Working 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.

Indian CIOs have worn or need to wear a superhero suit to weather the COVID-19 storm and emerge winners for employees, stakeholders and customers.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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