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How Covid 19 Changed Everything For CIOs

Jason Johnson, Senior Vice President, Information Technology, Sweetwater
Jason Johnson, Senior Vice President, Information Technology, Sweetwater

Jason Johnson, Senior Vice President, Information Technology, Sweetwater

Seven months ago you were on a path to digital transformation; you had priorities, plans, budgets and goals. Then, toward the end of Q1 2020, COVID-19 hit. This pandemic is an event that will likely define our very existence as a human race for some time to come, just as the Great Depression and other significant events over the last several hundreds of years did. Some CIOs were scrambling to shut down and find ways to deliver value, some had great work-from-home plans, and some had never had employees doing work in any place other than physical spaces owned by the company. Businesses were impacted differently, with some experiencing cuts while others saw insane increases. With the increase of an instant ecommerce world, how can CIOs deliver? From modern businesses to those with legacy systems, we all struggled.

If you want to digitally transform in a 2020 world, you must invest in your people first

Here we are, but what about DevOps, Cloud, Agile, gitOps and all the other buzz words we have been throwing around for the last few years? Couldn't artificial intelligence or machine learning predict something like this? Whether COVID-19 slowed down your digital transformation or threw a large tank of gas on it, there is one thing we all share in common - our people. How did your team handle IT? IT teams are interesting groups of humans, often misunderstood and treated as outsiders by many organizations. They’ve been mis-dubbed as a "necessary evil", but we know these teams keep companies running - and in some cases flourishing - in today’s digital era. Progressive companies look at their tech teams as innovation engines, driving businesses forward and no longer a cost center. This simple fact perhaps became more apparent for organizations during the pandemic.

One of the number one lessons learned in IT through this pandemic is that our people are at the core of everything we do. In a world so focused on products, the next upgrade, keeping this old system running just a bit longer, new projects, supporting digital infrastructure, cost savings, capex vs opex, it's easy to lose track of how the needle moves in everything IT teams do. If you want to digitally transform in 2020, focus on nurturing your people. Arm them with the right tools and provide endless training, be a true coach, and create a safe space for them to fail and learn. Finally, set incredibly ambitious goals along with the highest standards. Then strap up and lead the way, not from your keyboard or your chair but on the ground, in the weeds, showing how it should be done. It can be far more comfortable to continue to do what you are doing now, but if you want to digitally transform in a 2020 world, you must invest in your people first. The technology and problems will solve themselves if you have a high performing team, and your business will transform, no buzz words needed.

I can't wait to hear about your success.

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