We share some of the insights from a recent CIO roundtable meetup as they expressed concern about the pandemic’s effects on companies, the customer experience and security.
We’re a little past the one-year mark of the pandemic, and I don’t think it’s possible to overstate the impact it’s had on society and business. 2020 forever changed work and office environments, and we’re going to widely feel the ramifications for years.
As companies evolve to a hybrid work model, commercial real estate will feel the effects, as office workspace requirements will trend downward for the foreseeable future. In a couple of recent meetings of mid-market CIOs that I hosted, all are planning for this hybrid approach and considering how best to accommodate staff’s physical needs as well as emotional needs.
One element considered under this hybrid return approach is the hoteling concept with shared physical workspaces. However, the human resources departments at some of these companies advise leaders to consider employees’ emotional needs when they have no workspace to call their own.
Anecdotally, a few of the CIOs shared that younger members of their teams are pushing back the most on working remotely. They want to be back in an office setting, working among peers and others rather than remotely from home. Company culture is an important consideration and has been since the start of the pandemic.
What about the Customer Experience?
Another trend that has manifested among these CIO conversations centers on customer experience and digital transformation. The trend is very pronounced among companies who rely on direct sales to end-users in their B2B businesses. Changes to this model occurred for a while as baby boomers aged out of the workforce while Gen X advanced and millennials filled in behind them. Culturally, those generations may rely less on personal touch and more on leveraging technology to conduct business transactions.
The trend has expanded and intensified with the pandemic. Face-to-face business calls and social business activities have dropped to nearly zero. While those activities are rebounding somewhat, as vaccinations work their way through society, companies are finding themselves capable of conducting all phases of a transaction remotely, from sales efforts to fulfillment.
I like to tell the story of a client we landed last year that quickly grew to a $2M annual relationship, and we never physically met any of their leadership, project sponsors or any other client team member.
But, what comes with that capability is the need to conduct business seamlessly, be mindful of the client journey, and invest in digital infrastructure to support this new normal. That’s where we’re seeing most members of my CIO peer groups making their investments.
Don’t Forget About Security
Finally, cybersecurity vigilance and bad actors haven’t taken a break during the pandemic. A couple of CIOs shared very recent stories about attacks that had varying levels of success of the intruder. One was reasonably bad and involved a medium six-figure loss while the other had the potential terrible, but their diligent IT team thwarted it.
An employee who broke protocol caused both issues, which emphasizes the need for continual training and reinforcement.
The CIO roundtables are always interesting and thought-provoking. I’m glad to have the opportunity to spend time with these tech leaders.