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The Author

Director - Technology Consulting

KPMG in New Zealand

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Like other countries, many are feeling the increased pressure working from home places on organisations (technology, culture and mental wellbeing), with continued uncertainty of the future. Over 60% of CIOs globally have reported an increase in influence as a result of the pandemic. Previously unnoticed investments into Cloud, collaboration and flexible working technologies are now front and centre for organisational strategies which has accelerated the investment in digital initiatives. At the same time, IT is being asked to find operational efficiency, improve customer engagement and ‘keep the lights on’ through heroic efforts from staff.

A large ask to say the least.

While many organisations around the world continue to operate largely from home, there seems to be two schools of thought driving the digital agenda in New Zealand:

  1. Embracing the opportunity to ‘define a new normal’, adapting to more flexible ways of working and redefining what being in the office means. This sounds attractive but has significant challenges for New Zealand CIOs, especially how to maintain cohesion, ensure security and enable a seamless experience when teams are split between home and the office. When everyone was at home it was relatively easy to have a group video call, but when some team members are at home and others are in the office, inevitably one side has a less engaging experience.
  2. Looking to get ‘back to normal’ - as seen across some private and many public sector organisations. This may come back to bite in future - particularly when looking to attract and retain talent with the new expectations of staff to be able to offer flexible working.

From discussions with CIOs and other executives, the majority appear to be embracing the opportunity. They are adopting guidelines for working from home - many built around meeting client priorities and planning for 2-3 days a week in the office - while trying to maintain a level of flexibility for staff.

The survey highlighted shortages in similar areas to previous years (Cyber Security, Architecture, Advanced Analytics) - these skills remain difficult to attract and retain. The factors identified that have the greatest impact in doing so include strong culture and leadership, career progression and work location, as well as remuneration and training. It is clear that CIOs need to be thinking about more than just pay.

As we move toward 2021, CIOs continue to be key enablers for organisational success - be it through a hard reset, transformation, rapid growth or sustaining a slightly different business-as-usual. Digital leaders that are agile, scalable and able to respond continue to be well positioned to use their increased influence to move forward with initiatives that may have been on the back burner. Those caught flat footed have an opportunity to take learnings from this period and look to modernise and digitise - with a clear imperative in recent memory.

Both groups should be working with senior executives now, considering how they continue to operate business-as-usual while building momentum to make sustainable operational changes.
 

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