2020 was the year CIOs and IT were heard

Technology leaders and teams did themselves proud in this tough year; in 2021 technology must remain heard and share its opportunities widely.

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"We can’t hear you. You are on mute."  These two sentences will, for knowledge workers and dispersed families, exemplify 2020. In what has been a challenging year for everyone, and especially those in healthcare and teaching, technology and IT teams have been heard.  As we look back on 2020, it cannot be ignored that technology has played a major role in preserving organisations, keeping communities connected and has made a largely positive contribution to life during a pandemic. The challenge in 2021 will be to ensure that IT teams and technology are not placed back on mute. 

No matter the vertical market, CIOs and CTOs report to me that their IT teams have responded well to the pandemic and the sudden need to change the way an organisation operates, and in many cases trade with its customers. As a result, many CIOs report that IT is receiving some overdue recognition.

The last 20 years have prepared technologists for the impact like the events of 2020, most of those in senior leadership roles cut their teeth in the lead up to the Year 2000 and the Y2K preparations. There is a wealth of naysayers that like to claim Y2K was a lot of hot air, and it was never a problem. Had their bank lost control of its systems or aircraft been grounded to the levels they are today; the naysayers would be as silent as the airspace above us.  Ironically, recently I met a technologist who was planning a security incident scenario exercise in 2019, he suggested planning for a pandemic - the organisation’s executive said no, this scenario was too unlikely! I hazard a guess many businesses will now increase their pandemic planning and scenario exercises. 

Y2K began the journey of technology and tech teams to being a central element of the business, and I remember clearly how in the response to the banking crisis of 2008 technology leaders and their teams delivered significant savings and process improvements to their businesses. In the case of public sector technologists, those savings kept essential frontline services operating.

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