The COVID-19 global pandemic has ushered a significant priority shift for the digital workplace. As development teams become completely remote, executive priorities are rapidly adapting to meet the gravity of these unanticipated times.
But, were IT leaders prepared for such a dramatic shift? What are they doing to evolve? To answer these tough questions, let’s turn to the data. A March 2020 study, conducted by Adobe and Fortune, surveyed 200 chief information officers (CIOs) on how their priorities are changing to meet the needs of a global crisis. Here’s what they found.
As it turns out, the majority of enterprises (84%) report they were prepared for remote work, with a slight increase for SMBs, at 94%.
“Like most business leaders, CIOs now have to rethink priorities, or at least reorder them, and we must reinvent ourselves now as virtual leaders,” said Adobe CIO Cynthia Stoddard.
We are living in a golden age of virtual collaboration tools—teams have Slack, GitHub, Zoom, Microsoft Teams and many other options. Yet, 53% of CIOs still cite communication as the biggest hurdle to remote work. Nevertheless, half of the CIOs surveyed reported their organizations are still actively hiring, indicating steady growth for IT.
Regarding technological adoption, some organizations are struggling to keep pace. Twenty percent of CIOs report serious shortfalls in technology tools. Interestingly, less than 25% of CIOs estimated increased financial spending for areas such as public cloud, infrastructure and artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML).
“Indeed, nearly all CIOs (90%) surveyed said they use a public cloud service for at least some of their data, but most is housed on-premises,” said Giselle Abramovich. “Only one in three organizations store half or more of their data in a public cloud.”
One thing most enterprises agree on is the need for better security—seven in 10 anticipated increased financial investments into cybersecurity.
Only 50% of enterprise CIOs said they use AI in one or more projects (25% for SMB CIOs). However, it seems to be a growing discipline, as 90% of the organizations that have implemented AI have done so in the past year.
Though AI has garnered significant interest, there are hurdles to actual implementation. According to the report, “the biggest issues related to AI include getting data in order, funding and finding the right talent.” With more people online and the importance of distanced communication, it is likely that investments into AI will increase, especially for use in IT support and customer interactions.
“We’re making AI a strategic priority at Adobe. AI implementation is difficult for many organizations because it’s still new to most businesses, and there is a shortage in talent that has a deep understanding of it,” said Stoddard.
Analysis: Impact on DevOps
CIOs are in a unique position. Leaders are reevaluating business practices and also reassessing their technological investments. As the Adobe/Fortune study shows, many companies were prepared for 100% remote work, albeit some more than others.
To endure a COVID-19 economical drought, CIOs are taking action. The report indicates increased investment into remote tools, AI and cybersecurity, while aligning hiring and new infrastructure to reach these goals.
Institutions with a previous investment into cloud infrastructure as well as scalability practices, such as serverless, are likely well-equipped for increased online interaction and unanticipated usages. In this virtual realm, automation is also key to streamline deployments and monitor applications in remote fashions.
Though the report doesn’t differentiate between company types, it’s likely that digitally native enterprises are well-equipped as well. In addition, the trend from physical storefront to “brick and click,” has only been magnified by the current climate, forcing retail and banks to invest heavily in digital technologies and DevOps.
By repositioning priorities, IT can adapt to the new state of interaction. With deliberate execution, CIOs and all executives alike could find themselves on the right side of the river once the economy resumes.