COVID-19 struck IT like a tsunami in early 2020, sweeping away long-established operations and processes, forcing CIOs to quickly identify and deploy acceptable alternatives. As the virus threat appears to be gradually receding, IT leaders are viewing a radically transformed landscape.  IT has also felt the impact, leaving CIOs to wonder how their departments will cope with and function in a post-virus world. With basic changes already appearing, here’s a look at several ways that COVID-19 has permanently transformed IT.

Agility is now a necessity

“Agility quickly became the highest priority, as … well understood consumer behavior and fixed distribution chains failed. Companies needed to embrace and adapt to a fully unified online/offline world, valuing resilience over pure cost, and IT agility became indispensable.”

says Andy Mutz, head of engineering, new ventures and technologies at enterprise software developer SAP.

On the bright side, the pandemic showed IT leaders that it’s possible to safely transform key operations and services at a previously unimaginable pace.

Collaboration is now routine

By joining with internal and external partners, IT staff can gain access to the knowledge and resources necessary to stay a step ahead of the competition. COVID-19 forced enterprises clinging to a “built here” IT philosophy to recognize the value inherent in partner collaboration. Moore explains:

“Whether it’s for technology embedded in products or cloud-based production and collaboration tools, the ecosystem will continue to be important to companies as they innovate and protect their competitive position in the marketplace.”

Threat awareness is now enhanced and expanded

Technology-rooted emerging threats, such as ransomware and denial of service attacks, generally give enterprises at least a few clues as to what to expect and how to prepare and react. But COVID-19 hit hard and suddenly, upending critical operations within a matter of days. Jason Goth, CTO at technology consulting firm Credera says:

“There simply wasn’t time to do six-month assessments on different technology options, or to build a long-term roadmap for compliance.”

Chastened by the experience, a growing number of IT leaders are now beginning to treat communicable threats, such as COVID-19, with the same level of importance as natural disasters, by including defined strategies within their business continuity/disaster recovery plans.

IT as a business solutions driver

When the pandemic crippled long-standing business operations, IT stepped forward to provide solutions. Enterprises possessing advanced technical capabilities were able to create new products and services, Goth says.

“For example, retailers like Home Depot and Costco added curbside pickup; restaurants like McDonald’s added curbside and new delivery options; telecommunications products, like Zoom or Teams, had to add orders of magnitude in terms of scale as well as new features. Businesses that were able to make the changes quickly and effectively were not only able to survive, but thrive.”

Yet COVID-19 also raised enterprise expectations.

IT as a financial innovator

COVID-19 allowed IT to take the lead in financial innovation, particularly in tech-driven areas such as contactless commerce. Carol Juel, executive vice president and CIO of consumer financial services, noted:

“While the industry had been innovating contactless commerce technology for years … the pandemic accelerated the transformation and brought it to the forefront. What made this development so significant is what would have taken years, took … only a few short months.”

The pandemic increased consumer demand for the ability to transact and process payments without touching cash, cards, or keypads.

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