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What’s on CIOs’ minds during the coronavirus crisis

As CIOs navigate the COVID-19 crisis, they are managing myriad issues while also needing to act quickly.

In a series of webinars on technology during the COVID-19 crisis, we heard from about 300 CIOs and technology leaders about what’s on their minds now.

Dual focus on crisis response

CIOs are seeing record rates of adoption for new technology, such as connectivity tools, and, more broadly, prioritizing technology interventions to support the organization, such as providing digital solutions to enable B2B sales in a remote environment.

CIOs are also evaluating the potential impact of the economic downturn. Many are beginning to rethink their budgets and are prioritizing initiatives that generate savings and cash. In our experience, the best CIOs are also keeping a close eye on what generates value for the business and thinking about how to invest in those initiatives so the business can both weather the downturn and come through it in a strong position.

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Response plans emerging across multiple horizons

Not surprisingly, CIOs are overwhelmingly focused on immediate solutions to support their people and the business. CIOs are moving to provide flexible and secure work arrangements, such as managing flexible shifts and preparing for absences, and putting in place work-safety protocols for those who still must come into work by, for example, establishing zones of work and assessing who really needs to be on the premises. They are also actively shifting resources to support the surge of customers purchasing online, including scaling network capacity and providing support for websites and call centers.

Reassuringly, a substantial number of CIOs are also focused on the longer-term needs of the business by staying the course on important priorities, such as digital and technology enablement, cloud migration, and agile adoption. We know from past crises that companies that thoughtfully invest fare best during and after downturns.

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With the implications of the COVID-19 crisis still playing out, CIOs have a crucial role to play in navigating the uncertainty and positioning their businesses to prevail through the downturn and beyond.

About the author(s)

Isha Gill is an associate partner in McKinsey’s Chicago office, where Rahil Jogani is a partner and Ankita Sodani is an associate; and Robert Levin is a partner in the Boston office.

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