IT teams have had to deal with increased disruption during the COVID-19 pandemic and CIO’s are now preparing for the next phase, says recruiting experts Hays.
Hays’ Chief Information Officer, Steve Weston, said in a recent blog that even before COVID-19 hit, disruption was second nature to IT teams, as it is change and disruption that often fuels the need for technological solutions. However, the pandemic has meant IT departments are experiencing a level of disruption like they have never seen before. 
Steve stated IT teams around the world have had to rise to the challenges and demands placed on them, including introducing new ways of working. Many businesses have had rely on their IT departments to digitise their supply chains, adopt new customer channels, including e-commerce, mobile apps or chatbots, while other businesses have accelerated their artificial intelligence (AI) and automation adoption.
Steve says, “During the initial stages of the COVID-19 outbreak, technology most definitely proved its worth. Tech and the teams behind it helped businesses quickly pivot their existing business models and establish new ones. This included a surge of activity in the e-commerce and e-payments space while enabling mass remote working around the world, pretty much overnight.”
Steve states that IT teams will continue to play an increasingly important role in addressing the ensuing challenges organisations face during the ongoing pandemic. This will also have a significant impact on CIOs, with Steve predicting that when further change is called for, the CIO will be the first port of call for many businesses to help find savvy solutions.
Here are some of the ways CIOs and their teams are helping businesses prepare for more COVID-related disruption.
1.    Providing solutions to combat collaboration fatigue

IT teams have been providing solutions to facilitate a return to the workplace, including digitised floorplans, track-and-trace apps, and sensor technology, this has helped businesses to stay aligned while also reducing collaboration fatigue. However, to facilitate a hybrid working model, which allows staff to visit the office on an ad-hoc basis or coordinate visits with team members, intelligent and integrated solutions will be needed to provide office managers with the ability to adapt their spaces to changing workforce dynamics, while reducing transmission risks. 
For CIOs and their IT teams, this may mean installing, maintaining and monitoring a new range of building technologies to optimise their offices. IT teams can also expect to implement a range of cross-platform communication tools to keep digital communications fresh and allow people to use the best platform for their needs and reduce collaboration fatigue even further. 
2.    Finding flexibility with the cloud

Steve says that cloud-native and microservices-focused e-commerce platforms are providing much needed flexibility, allowing organisations to respond to continued supply chain disruption. These solutions will help organisations push into new areas during the coming months, helping businesses to maintain the digital momentum built during the initial lockdown.
Steve comments “Microservices are the next iteration of the agile DevOps methodology, whereby small, standalone applications can be used to finetune e-commerce platforms. Research reveals significant growth in both these areas since the pandemic began, thanks to the agility they provide”.
3.    IT teams and AI will take a more prominent role

Many businesses will be experiencing a decrease in revenue, leading CIOs to rearrange their budgets to prioritise both the customer and employee experience. However, Steve comments that automation, AI and machine learning are helping businesses continue to streamline their operations and user experience. 
Accenture predicts human-AI collaboration is now a requirement to help businesses pivot by taking automation technologies to the next level and using them to not only efficiently execute tasks but also transform business processes. 
4.    IT professionals now recognise a different skillset

Throughout the pandemic, there has been a rise in demand for certain skillsets and roles. IT teams are continuing to upskill and train themselves to keep pace with these ever-changing requirements. According to Hays’ Global Head of Technology, James Milligan, cloud architects and engineers were in the greatest demand at the start of lockdown as businesses and educational institutions worked at breakneck speed to introduce working/learning from home initiatives.
As the pandemic continues, James also predicts a surge in demand for data security experts, data analysts, data scientists and machine learning experts, as well as change management specialists and agile experts. 
Steve closes by saying, “Disruption is fast becoming second nature to everyone – not just those working in technology. The pandemic has changed the way we work for the better, forever. These changes will impact CIOs and IT teams, increasing their influence across the business. Going forward, I anticipate our IT teams will continue to take on a more transformational, business critical role to keep the world up and running now, and in the years ahead.”
About Hays
Hays plc (the "Group") is a leading global professional recruiting group. The Group is the expert at recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people worldwide, being the market leader in the UK and Australia and one of the market leaders in Continental Europe, Latin America and Asia. The Group operates across the private and public sectors, dealing in permanent positions, contract roles and temporary assignments. As at 30 June 2020 the Group employed c.10,400 staff operating from 266 offices in 33 countries across 20 specialisms. For the year ended 30 June 2020:
– the Group reported net fees of £996.2 million and operating profit (pre-exceptional items) of £135.0 million;
– the Group placed around 66,000 candidates into permanent jobs and around 235,000 people into temporary roles;
– 17% of Group net fees were generated in Australia & New Zealand, 26% in Germany, 23% in United Kingdom & Ireland and 34% in Rest of World (RoW);
– the temporary placement business represented 59% of net fees and the permanent placement business represented 41% of net fees;
– IT is the Group’s largest specialism, with 25% of net fees, while Accountancy & Finance (15%) and Construction & Property (12%), are the next largest
– Hays operates in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE, the UK and the USA