Play Offense: The Key to Accelerating In Uncertain Times

The COVID-19 pandemic (the latest in a string of uncertain times) has put a strain on some organizations as they try to pivot to face new challenges: Do we keep our current real estate leases or move to a fully remote workforce? While we are working remotely, how do we manage spend on extra office equipment? How do we reallocate the unused travel and entertainment budget to help offset expenses elsewhere? Should we freeze hiring and risk a downturn in productivity? Those are just a few of the many questions that are top-of-mind for CIOs right now.

The biggest question, though, is: Do you have the tools and processes in place to make speedy, data-driven decisions — no matter what the business environment is?

#HASHTECH Unplugged! is a thought leadership interview series by CIO Academy Asia that seeks to provide answers from other leaders around the globe. In this edition, P. Ramakrishna, CEO of CIO Academy Asia, is talking with Glenn Francis, Singapore Press Holdings CTO, and Christopher Lindner, Apptio CIO to learn their thoughts on what it takes to successfully maneuver through this crisis.

Notable offensive plays

Lindner advises CIOs to take advantage of the opportunities inherent in this environment. “Play offense, not defense,” advises Lindner. “Double down on tech investments and create competitive advantage. Now is the right time to do this.”

And Francis affirms that sentiment. “COVID-19 has disrupted the disrupters,” explained Francis. “Before COVID-19, companies would be looking at innovation, transformation, change management, etc. But COVID-19 has forced all of us to become more operations-focused. We have to ensure that technology doesn’t fail and VPNs (virtual private networks) can bear spikes in bandwidth, especially with 80% – 100% of staff being forced to work from home.” He recommends that IT leadership also use this time to reduce technical debt, attack those innovative projects that are sitting on the back burner, and use the TBM (Technology Business Management) framework and best practices to increase transparency into the IT black box.

The TBM framework provides CIOs with a common language with which to communicate with other business stakeholders about IT spend and allows them to make direct ties between spend and business value. “That transparency builds trust with our business users and stakeholders,” he said. “This is important because we have to demystify the tech ‘black box.’ If we remain as a black box, we will be treated as a black box.”

The video is just 16 minutes long, but it’s packed with great advice. Watch the full interview to learn more, including how Southwest Airlines’ CIO took advantage of the COVID-19 slowdown to speed up the relocation of their data center.

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