5 Priorities for IT Leaders During this Summer of COVID

It's been a very challenging year for everyone and indeed, this has been the case for first responders. Somewhere a couple of rungs further down the ladder, most organizations owe plenty of thanks to CIOs, IT leaders, and especially the IT service desk. It's one compliance requirement to have business continuity plans, but an exponential challenge to quickly enable global organizations to stay safe and work remotely.

Summer of COVID


Over the years, I've made several posts advising CIOs and IT leaders on how to use the summer months. In 2013, I shared my CIO advice for taking summer vacations and suggested burying the email, learning something new, and building memories. In 2017, I shared five things CIO should do over the summer, including unplugging, having fun with the team, and scheduling fall events. Sadly, these suggestions are hard to do this summer. In 2018, I added five things digital transformation leaders should do over the summer, including road tripping to visit customers, bringing treats to difficult meetings, and getting hands-on with customer data.

I confess that it's a bit more challenging writing this 2020 version. We can't easily travel for a holiday. It's ill-advised to bring teams together to brainstorm or barbecue. And yet, we should cave to our human instincts and use the summer months to relax a bit, reflect, and rejuvenate. 
 
So here's my answer on how CIO, IT leaders, and really everyone in IT should consider doing during the summer COVID months.

1. Find ways to express thanks and gratitude - Everyone has gone through personal hells the last several months, some more than others, and impacting others more than some. It's hard to know through Zoom calls how everyone is holding up, but it's fair to say that a good number of people in IT stepped up to ensure their colleagues were working productively and business operations continue. Even if you've already thanked your team, colleagues, and boss during this challenging period, it only helps repeat the message. We don't know when we'll need everyone to step up again.

2. Reconnect with executives - This recommendation is for CIOs and IT leaders. We all know that success during difficult times is a lot easier when we have supportive colleagues who have our backs. It may have been difficult keeping open communications during March, April, and May when everyone was facing remote working challenges, so now, while things are a little slower, it may be the best time to reconnect. Find out the new opportunities and challenges, and get ahead of rethinking an offensive and defensive strategy to these volatile times.

3. Learn more about low-code platforms - Readers of my book, blog, vlog, newsletter, and twitter feed already know that I am a strong proponent of adopting low-code platforms to support rapid development and remote collaboration. Before COVID, I'd estimate that about a third of CIOs were low-code enthusiasts, another third were highly skeptical, and another third really hadn't invested sufficient time to have an informed opinion. All that's changed now, and I hear more CIOs recognize that they need low-code platforms to rapidly develop applications to address risks and chase opportunities. If you are the one third that hasn't researched or prototyped with a low-code platform, you are behind the curve and should consider making this a priority.

4. Roll up the sleeves and learn a data visualization platform - Ok, so you have Tableau or Power BI in your organization and have a growing citizen data science program. Maybe you established basic self-service BI governance and ideally started a proactive data governance program. But can you build a dashboard yourself? Be honest! If you can't, reconnect with your hands-on self and learn a bit about the self-service BI platform you are promoting.

5. Brainstorm resiliency with your team - I'm hoping your teams have come up for air even though many IT leaders now have new work to do to support a hybrid remote and in-office workforce. Sadly, I don' think any of us believe that we're near the end of the health and safety risks confronting employees and organizations. So what to do next? It's time to review feedback from ITSM tools, speak with employees on their needs, and brainstorm what's needed to improve resiliency. Hopefully, everyone will be better prepared for what comes next.

Stay healthy and safe. Get outdoors. Take a walk and take it easy. Enjoy your summer.

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