5 Ways CIOs Can Show Leadership In Uncertain Times

African business woman talking with staff at formal meeting , diverse client partners listens boss ceo team leader banner for website header design

by Vyshak Venugopalan

posted on 04-08-2020

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted lives and businesses around the world. As the situation evolves, organisations are grappling with new ways of working, right down to how to conduct routine daily tasks.

Yet in the midst of this uncertainty there are great examples of how business executives are tackling the situation. In many cases, IT as a function is under strain and chief information officers (CIOs) have become even more crucial to business continuity.

Here are five ways CIOs can emerge as clear leaders and champions of the customer experience for both customers and employees.

1. Going online needs great leadership

One of the traits of a strong leadership style is adaptability to change. CIOs still need to advise the business and employees on key decisions and going online shouldn’t hinder this process. Some key ways to demonstrate this are:

2. Accelerate your digital transformation

Customers are looking for more convenient and higher quality digital experiences, and it’s your responsibility to deliver. For example, change your key landing pages (websites and mobile applications, for example) to reflect your brand’s most sought after product or service.

Specific, contextual information trumps general marketing content during this time. It requires CIOs to monitor self-service channels (such as FAQs and discussion forums) from a customer experience perspective, and this information will help you optimise the customer journey.

Such an initiative will not only increase customer experience and satisfaction, but also increase your capacity to focus on other mission-critical functions.

CIOs also need to identify bottlenecks in the IT function. Pinpoint high-maintenance and limited-scale applications, systems and tools that may be in need of a major overhaul. Look for opportunities for platform standardisation that would offer greater resilience and flexibility.

3. Empower other executives

Take time to ensure the C-suite is harnessing maximum power from the technology available to them. This should include some evangelisation about your company’s various platforms and the most effective use of them, especially in a remote working scenario.

It’s also an opportunity to partner with your chief HR officer and chief marketing officer to help them communicate effectively with employees, customers, partners, vendors and suppliers. Again, deliver a consistent message in different ways and different channels.

Some examples of partnering with your CMO on customer experience include:

4. Reassess your data strategy

As consumer behaviour and business updates change by the hour, an opportunity arises to pay more attention to real-time analysis. Weekly comparisons may not be sufficiently frequent, so adjusting time periods for reporting and analysis may be essential.

This involves shifting your focus away from standard metrics to determine business and customer priorities. For example, move away from your traffic and “counter” metrics and focus more on relative and compounded metrics. Start looking at the engagement score across key products rather than focusing on daily traffic.

Internal training to make data self-service should become a priority. Your team may be drowning in demands for new data sets and preparations. It is worth enabling and training cross-functional teams so they can find the data they need, rather than utilising your resources.

Customer behaviour analytics should take priority – they are a primary indicator for new business strategies as well as for optimising current processes. Contribution analysis and artificial intelligence can help. As developing new machine learning will take time, purpose built AI/ML systems are a much more efficient way of implementing this.

5. Lead by example

The CIO function extends far beyond technology implementation. CIOs need to reach for complete organisational and customer success. It’s crucial to partner with other business units to ensure they have what they need to support customer and employee satisfaction and trust.

Supporting employees often means offering the flexibility for people to work from home, a task that could crush small IT support functions. Develop strategies to manage this and mentor volunteers within the business to help increase your scale. As the value of your role becomes evident, seek recognition from the board and ask for the funds and procurement process that will enable your team to meet new demands and streamline processes.

Above all, model the behaviour you expect of your staff, especially while working from home. Use the same collaboration tools as everyone else, be available, and recognise the hard work in your team and business.

Topics: Career Advice

Products: