Viewpoint / CXO of the Future

Mayfield & Box CIO of the Future Forum

Key Takeaways & Insights

2020 was an unprecedented year, with the global pandemic and other crises affected families, organizations, and the communities around us. CIOs and other IT leaders have led the way in helping their respective companies and communities manage this difficult time. A big part of that has, of course, been the hastening of digital transformation efforts, and the incredible movement to WFH and remote access at a scale we’ve never seen before. We took time at a small roundtable, co-hosted with Box, to reflect back: What have the learnings been? And looking ahead, what can we expect to see, what assumptions do we have, and how do we maintain or develop new management and technology strategies? These were our takeaways:

  • Talent Retention – There is a lot of concern in management around employee turnover, particularly among tenured employees. Nationwide there is definitely a bottleneck for IT talent, and it’s possible that we’ll see remote poaching of talent from lower-paid areas or jobs. Training and education is also an important piece – many employees have found they either want to do something else or change how they work. Employers are working to find ways to keep top talent happy and engaged
  • WFH Future? – It seems like the verdict is still out on this. Many large employers are shifting to remote or hybrid models (or three classes of employees – onsite, hybrid, and remote), but others are resisting (Jamie Dimon, Goldman Sachs, WeWork, etc.). Many employees are clamoring to WFH (85% was cited by one participant at the roundtable), so some kind of a compromise is likely
  • Empathy Is Still Important – A lot of employees and customers are still suffering from the social impacts of COVID-19 and life has not fully returned to normal for them just yet
  • Data Continues To Be King – Being able to fluidly move data and enable it from anywhere, anytime is a must
  • Not Everything Needs to be Agile – It’s not a religion or a fit for everything. Agile-washing is rampant (taking old practices and renaming them with agile names). For some things, what is already working is best
  • A Positive Feedback Loop – As more companies move to the cloud, it allows for more standardization between customers and partners, and that standardization allows for increasing automation. Companies are moving away from customized, bespoke environments (and away from data centers!)
  • The Hybrid Model in Practice – Different models are starting to emerge around hybrid. Some companies seem to think it’s not efficient – and that it’s better to just have someone at home all the time, or at work all the time, because having two workspaces is not productive. Others think that the way to make it work is have everyone come into the office a couple days a week on the same days. Still others believe you can do hybrid without syncing everyone up – you just need to empower the people who come into the office with the right tools to make it easy to work with remote colleagues (Zoom Rooms, etc.)
  • Changing Management Principles – The managing capabilities of 15 years ago will not necessarily work well today, managing remote workers can be different from managing in the office – clear and well-understood metrics are very important
  • Security Is Still Top of Mind – With more hacks going on than ever before, protecting increasing attack surfaces, testing vulnerabilities, training employees, etc. have all been top of mind
  • A Diversity of Perspective – Taking into account outside perspectives and criticism can really help a team innovate more quickly. Unbiased feedback and being able to digest it is the key
  • Retail, Banks, and Healthcare Are Moving Online – The old Sears-style models are in the past, and as much of the administrative and bureaucratic parts of these services as possible are being shifted online. This provide an opportunity to rationalize footprint as well, and test new engagement models with customers

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