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The IT sector has been challenged, yet the future looks brighter than ever

The IT sector has been challenged, yet the future looks brighter than ever

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Cisco research reveals CIOs and CTOs perspective on performance and strategies for coping with the pandemic. Reem Asaad, Vice President, Cisco Middle East & Africa, explains.

In the IT industry, we can often connect with decision-makers across multiple sectors. This has proven to be a great source of strength in today’s climate, which requires us to collaborate and learn from one another more than ever before.

At Cisco, we have long been accustomed to working remotely – backed by the network expertise and solutions to make it possible on a large scale. Yet, when we found ourselves taking a leap from 20,000 remote workers to 140,000 in just 10 days, it still required a great deal of co-ordination and teamwork across our global family.

To understand the scale of the challenges presented to businesses, we conducted our CIO Impact and CIO Perspectives reports, which identified common pain points and priority areas of focus for key stakeholders.

Our findings revealed that in the Middle East, 61% of CIOs and CTOs regard Coronavirus as top of mind for their IT departments at present. Globally, 78% of CIOs and CTOs feel the pandemic has had a severe or major impact on their organisations.

CIOs cited security, VPN bandwidth, loss of productivity and tech outages as their main stress drivers at present. The increase in remote working also accounted for half of all security fears, and half again said that the move to remote work represented a major cultural shift for their organisations.

Collaboration tools and videoconferencing have gone beyond being mere perks to becoming vital tools in supporting teams and ensuring wellbeing during the crisis. At Cisco, we have promoted activities such as virtual coffee chats.

Navigating a new world

Our research has highlighted the critical role of modernised network technologies in supporting CIOs and their organisations through the current crisis. In the Middle East, 95% of CIOs say they still have some degree of reliance on legacy technology and 20% are still completely reliant on it to run their critical applications.

Organisations in the region are already adjusting their plans accordingly, to be better prepared in case of any such unexpected event in the future. For most, that will mean making additional investments to evolve their IT infrastructure.

Evolving role of the CIO and CTO

Now more than ever, CIOs and CTOs will play an increasingly pivotal role in assuring that Digital Transformation continues to be embedded in the not only the long-term strategic direction of the company, but also its day-to-day IT operations.

Echoing this sentiment, 88% of survey respondents shared that they feel the role of the CIO and CTO is expanding to have greater impact in their organisations and across their industries.

As budgets inevitably shrink and customer and employee needs increase, CIOs and CTOs must consider which technology best provides the speed and agility their business needs. Vendor consolidation enables decision-makers to have a greater overview of processes, optimise costs and operate in a more streamline manner.

Investment should not only be considered in terms of monetary spend. Employee training and upskilling also safeguards a business. CIOs and CTOs need the buy-in of their peers to accelerate digitisation agendas – investing in talent can help create a positive cultural shift.

Ultimately, preparation is key. Businesses must no longer wait for a change in circumstance to influence their decisions. As we look forward, our duty now is to ensure we apply the lessons we have learned to create a more secure digital future. We must move forward with hope and optimism, for where the IT industry can take us, and how our region can be the leader in championing a smarter and safer future for all.

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