CIOs look to capitalize on the COVID spotlight

The pandemic has propelled CIOs to center stage, winning accolades for their transformative efforts. The next act is all about making sure this is a permanent role, not a cameo performance.

CIOs look to capitalize on the COVID spotlight
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Prior to the pandemic, Truist Financial CIO Scott Case and his IT organization had already earned some serious bona fides from the business. Case and several executive cohorts had taken the reins to accelerate the merger of BB&T and SunTrust Banks into a digital financial powerhouse and were well under way spearheading end-to-end transformation.

When COVID-19 bore down this spring, the Truist team shifted into overdrive. Under Case’s direction, the IT organization mobilized to transfer nearly 40,000 employees to secure and effective remote work, spun up logistics operations to procure and source computer equipment, created a mini-factory for building and distributing laptops and headsets for call center employees, and got the firm’s investment bankers and traders up and running from home. Once core operations were stabilized, Case’s team sprung into action for phase two: rethinking the client experience in light of the new COVID normal. In a matter of weeks, IT implemented a new appointment scheduling system, portal capabilities, and an online loan origination platform.

The period of intense work, which cast an even brighter spotlight on IT and the CIO role, accelerated a dynamic that was already under way: Positioning Case and his team as a transformational force within the business. “The pandemic and all of the related activities were a multitude of proof points that came in a very condensed period of time,” Case says. “It completely erased all the doubt if there were ever any doubters. It exemplified that we were not some back-office function being told what to do and we leapt forward in the value chain.”

Maximizing CIO star power

Across industries, CIOs and IT organizations are feeling the love from a newly rapt enterprise audience. Six in 10 respondents to the Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey 2020 said their influence has increased as a result of the pandemic. Even before COVID-19 hit, Deloitte’s 2020 Global Technology Leadership study defined a new kind of innovative IT leader: a dynamic, change-oriented “kinetic leader” who can help envision a technology-driven future and lead complex transformation. The new profile for technology chiefs, Deloitte’s research contends, is more agile and customer-centric — with 42% embracing agile practices across the organization and 60% more likely to select customers as a top business priority.

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