Analysts say IT executives must establish large-scale business plans

With the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), Chief Information Officers (CIOs) must focus on three short-term actions to increase their organizations' resilience in the face of possible disruptions and prepare the environment for recovery and growth, according with Gartner, Inc., the world leader in business research and advice.

"The dynamic situation brought about by COVID-19 has the potential to impact the continuity of an organization's operations as much or more than a cyber invasion or natural disaster," says Sandy Shen, Senior Director of Research at Gartner. “When traditional channels and operations are impacted by the outbreak, the value of digital channels, products and operations becomes immediately obvious. It is a wake-up call for organizations that focus on daily operational needs at the expense of investing in digital business and long-term resilience. ”

Gartner recommends that CIOs focus on three short-term actions to provide support to customers and employees, ensuring continuity of operations.

1. Adopt digital collaboration tools with security controls and network support - Various quarantine measures and travel restrictions adopted by organizations, cities and countries have caused uncertainties and disruptions as business operations are suspended or performed in limited capacity.

In organizations where the resources of remote work not yet established, CIOs need to work with short-term interim solutions, including identifying use-case requirements, such as instant messaging for general communication, file sharing and meeting solutions, and access to enterprise applications, such as planning Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM, Customer Relationship Management), while reviewing all security provisions to ensure secure access to applications and data.

Organizations also need to deal with staff shortages to maintain basic operations. CIOs can work with business leaders to conduct a workforce planning to assess risks and address personnel gaps by identifying mission-critical service areas. CIOs can see how digital technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), can be used to automate tasks such as screening candidates and serving customers.

2. Engage customers and partners through digital channels and maintain sales activities - Many organizations have already involve customers on digital platforms, such as brand sites, apps, marketplaces and social media. But offline personal engagement still plays a big role. Collaborative solutions in the workplace, video conferencing and live broadcasts can address a variety of customer engagement and sales scenarios. Organizations should also allow customers to use self-service through online, mobile, social channels, kiosks and with Interactive Voice Response (IVR).

“The value of digital channels becomes obvious as market demand decreases and people rely more on online platforms for daily contacts. Organizations can take advantage of these digital channels, such as marketplaces and social platforms, to make up for part of the loss in demand, ”says Shen. “They can set up official pages and accounts and integrate business resources to enable online sales. They should also quickly adapt products to make them suitable for sale through digital channels. ”

3. Establish a single source of truth for employees - Confusing data from unverified sources, as well as a lack of data, can lead to poorly informed decisions, increasing employee anxiety and making organizations unprepared to return to normal operations. This anxiety can be alleviated somewhat if organizations can leverage the data to support better decision making and communicate progress more effectively to employees.

“Organizations can offer curated content, drawn from internal and external sources, to provide actionable guidance to employees. These sources include local governments, health authorities and international organizations, such as the World Health Organization (WHO). HR and corporate communications leaders can be involved to evaluate content and interpret company policies, "says the analyst." Organizations should create a website, app or hotline to share this information on a regular basis. Employees can also use these platforms to notify the company of its health conditions and seek emergency support and care services ”.

Gartner customers can learn more from the study “Coronavirus Outbreak: Short- and long-term actions for CIOs”. Learn more about leading organizations through outages caused by coronavirus in the Gartner Coronavirus Research Center, a collection of free Gartner surveys and webinars to help organizations respond, manage and prepare for the rapid spread and global impact of COVID-19.

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