World encountered a black swan event - COVID-19 in 2020, CIOs respond to the crisis right away with remote working set ups, access to information and mission-critical systems as well as enabling business continuity protocols. But a fast decision making, and robust technology foundation differentiated the market leaders from those with an inefficient core (e.g. paper based, manual processes, insufficient investment in technology infrastructure).

While the crisis is far from over across the world, business and IT leadership need to also start planning for a post Covid-19 phase as the uncertainties increase even further.

The big challenge remains on how to anticipate and plan for post COVID-19 phase

We believe that a CIO’s response needs to be a multi-horizon-based approach addressing the short- and long-term challenges (3-9-12 months). In the short term, CIO needs to manage discretionary and non-discretionary spend to drive costs low in order to create investment capacity for building system resilience for a long-term business growth.

While now, businesses are struggling to manage extreme cost pressure while trying to preserve their revenue streams and protecting their employees, in long-term impact we should expect to see some fundamental shift in how businesses will operate based on the following four factors. Hence it is important that the IT strategy and investment is tightly aligned with the potential business changes.

Business model change

At an enterprise level, businesses will accelerate their pivot to the digital business model.

Cash & liquidity management

CFOs will set aggressive cost reduction target as the crisis hit both top-line and bottom-line.

Enterprise transformation

Intelligent operations are a must for companies to differentiate and lead in a cost-effective manner.

Workforce and new ways of working

Leaders that make the permanent shift to new ways of working will be better able to stave off business disruption and potential revenue loss.

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of the China top 100 companies believe that COVID-19 will reduce their quarterly revenue significantly.


of the China top 100 companies believe that the operating cost will increase in immediate term.


of IDC CXO survey respondents believe that their first quarter spending on ICT will be on-hold and expect that the yearly budget will be reduced.

What does it mean for CIOs post COVID-19?

The key for the CIOs to manage the uncertainty is to avoid a “react” and “respond” approach and have a long-term view in mind. We believe CIOs need to have a three-horizon view in planning for post COVID-19 - Survival, Revival and Revitalization.

  • Survival actions: During first horizon, IT leadership need to work closely with business to reflect and plan for short term interventions to support business in surviving the crisis, i.e. stabilize operations and manage costs.
  • Revival actions: CIOs need to switch gears towards building IT flexibility for a future where economy starts to recover to pre Covid-19 era which will see increase in customer demand. Moreover, the changes may be sudden, and business will need to manage their end to end processes (e.g. manufacturing, supply chain, sales) to meet the demand. The expectations from IT functions will be to have enough capacity built in without impacting performance.
  • Revitalization actions: Upon stabilization and revival of the baseline business operations, the focus needs to be shifted towards reshaping IT and refocusing on business growth. This will require CIOs to bring IT to the forefront of the long-term business transformation.

Survival actions

  • Elastic digital workplace
  • IT cost reduction

Revival actions

  • Building IT resilience.

Revitalization actions

  • New IT capabilities
  • Strategic projects

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