Article: McKinsey Digital Publication
The CIO’s moment: Leadership through the first wave of the Coronavirus crisis
Industry news curated by Pivot's team. Article published on McKinsey.com.
It’s already clear that CIOs during the coronavirus outbreak are playing a central role in navigating the crisis, even as companies grapple with the implications.
“All eyes are on me. And I’m trying to deal with exploding online loads, people working remotely, new cyberthreats. Every day it’s something new.”
That quote from a banking chief information officer (CIO) reflects some of the urgency and pressure tech leaders are feeling. CIOs are facing the greatest challenge of their careers. We are seeing infrastructure breakdowns, denial-of-service attacks, and sites going down because of traffic load. Even as companies grapple with the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is already clear that CIOs are playing a central role in navigating the crisis.
The COVID-19 pandemic is first and foremost a human tragedy, and technology is on the front lines of this crisis. Many of the changes reshaping how we work and live—from employees working remotely to consumers shifting their shopping online—rely on technology. And because technology ties so much of every company together, CIOs have a unique view into what’s really going on and how to manage it.
COVID-19 is a global phenomenon, and companies from Asia to Europe to the Americas are at different stages of how they are reacting to the crisis. We see the crisis playing out broadly across three waves: Wave 1, ensuring stability and business continuity while containing the crisis; Wave 2, institutionalizing new ways of working; and Wave 3, using learning from the crisis to prioritize tech transformation for resilience.
The focus of this article is on how CIOs can navigate the first wave and begin shifting from reacting to the crisis to starting to get ahead of it. We believe that CIOs who successfully guide their companies through the first wave can not only stabilize core business operations but also emerge with a reputation for effective leadership.
In the past months, we’ve spoken with more than 100 CIOs at global companies. Based on these conversations and our experience helping businesses through previous economic crises, CIOs should focus their energies in the next 60 to 90 days on the following ten actions...
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About the author(s) Aamer Baig is a senior partner in McKinsey’s Chicago office, Klemens Hjartar is a senior partner in the Copenhagen office, and Steve Van Kuiken is a senior partner in the New Jersey office.