Technology is fundamental to business continuity. Not including IT leadership at the table is kind of like forgetting to buy charcoal for a barbecue. A new Tata Consultancy Services study on CIOs finds their responsibilities are continuing to change and adapt as they help their companies rise to new challenges. There are additional challenges for Indian IT heads who are managing global operations. M Sivasubramanian who heads an Indian multinational company with headquarters in Chennai focussing on water treatment. In an interaction, he shares how this pandemic had changed the way organizations look at IT.
As a global CIO, how do you see the way COVID 19 has transformed organizations?
For many organizations and sectors, the very concept of work-from-home was an impossible way and never even thought in dreams. It has been presumed that it is suitable only for IT & TS organizations. Now it has become a reality and accepted one. It has taught many of us that everything is possible when the need arises. Many traditional organizations have adopted this New normal way of working. It has changed the Organization’s management thought process & provoked many ideas in terms of reducing the operational cost by a reduction in managing physical Infrastructure, transportation & other amenities/facilities provided to their employees.
Till date, many CIOs had been facing challenges to make the top-management understand adopting technology. Do you think post-COVID has changed the scenario?
Yes. Definitely. It has forced us and left with no other option but to adopt the technology. What Management thought was Impossible has become very much possible and doable. This COVID-19 demonstrated the capabilities of Technology. It has always been our mindset in expecting a physical presence for meetings, there is a feeling of human emotional bonding when we physically present for a better outcome. COVID-19 has proved that it’s just a myth.
Moving forward, POST COVID what are the ways, the role of a CIO will transform in both good and bad?
I personally feel that this fear would go gradually over a period of time. People would be more cautious in the way we were living & the lifestyle would go for a change. Many Organizations would be practicing with extra caution and with a reduced percentage of manpower, either they would be coming in shifts or in alternate days/weeks.
A new normal way of work-from-home would continue for a certain set of organizations for a year or so. but for many businesses, it would continue to be a permanent way of working. Technology would play a major role, CIOs need to change the way we look at our service offerings to serve the business.
Things that would go for a change in Technology are likely: On-prem solutions to Cloud-based solutions, Physical desktops to VDI, More technology adoption in terms of IT Security, Stringent IT security controls, Technology adoption in remote work monitoring. Relooking at the contract with various service/ solutions providers, application development, support & Infrastructure management vendors.
What are the key areas, organizations are likely to spend post lockdown in India?
I feel Organizations would concentrate more on basic employee hygiene, social distancing, modifying existing Infrastructure to overcome the present scenario. From a technology perspective, organizations would concentrate on touch-free / contact free/health monitoring solutions/apps for monitoring employees’ presence which starts from attendance capturing, access controls, productivity monitoring, etc.
What are the suggestions for many SME companies who had started bringing IT in the forefront?
As the usage of technology increases, the threat/risk levels also would increase drastically. One needs to secure the Organization’s Information asset ( CIA- Confidentiality – Integrity – Availability ) very properly. CIOs need to concentrate more on the IT Security front after enabling businesses with the necessary technology to perform their duties. There would also be great awareness sessions/creations required, as a normal employee may or may not be aware of technology risks.
1. Strengthen IT Support for 24/7
2. Implement Stringent Controls over Security
3. Create Security awareness among users
4. Ensure latest technology updates / patches are deployed in Endpoint / Data center Infrastructure.
5. Ensure IT Security tools implementation at appropriate levels
6. Ensure Continuous Endpoint monitoring mechanism.
How could the new technologies like RPA, Bots will be accepted in India?
RPA & Bots have been around for the last few years and has advanced considerably. It can manage certain types of tasks that are repetitive and predictable in nature. RPA helps enterprises in freeing up the resources to focus on tasks that require creativity, value-added work, decision-making, and judgment. The market for RPA in India is driven by the increasing demand to automate accounting and process management. RPA would specifically help the EPC industry when it is focusing on repetitive tasks with some intelligence built-in. This would create a paradigm shift to the Engineering business Sector. The market research report predicts that the RPA market in India will grow at a CAGR of above 20% during the forecast period 2019-2025.