Covid-19 brought IT needs to the forefront and accelerated the shift to Software-as-a-Service solutions, says Shivkumar Gopalan, CIO of Unit4, a London-based software company that designs and delivers enterprise software and ERP applications and related professional services for people in services organizations.
It was a heavy lift for tech operations, but an exciting one in that it opened up the possibilities and importance of technology for many enterprises. Gopalan spoke with StrategicCIO360 about CIOs’ new strategic role, what systems will be needed post-pandemic and why flexibility is the key to success.
What has kept CIOs up at night over the last year?
CIOs were instrumental in dealing with the initial impact of Covid-19. Enterprises had to ensure business disruption was kept to a minimum and to operate with a heavy lift from IT, especially in enabling mass remote working. There has also been a big focus on HCM and systems to keep people connected and engaged. We’ve worked hard to check in regularly with people to gauge their well-being and job satisfaction, and there has been a big focus on implementing cloud services to deploy apps faster. In many ways, the last year has encouraged CIOs to think about their digital strategies in new ways.
What major technology trends should CIOs and companies be aware of at the moment?
The systems we’ll need in the post-Covid-19 world will combine workforce, financials and logistics, and will use fast-track templates and implementation methodologies to speed up time to value. The opportunity today is exciting. We’re in an era of enterprise technology that offers huge potential and a chance to rethink IT strategy for the 21st century. The essential thing is to keep innovating. Migrate further and faster to the cloud. Embrace SaaS models, and double down on digital transformation.
After a year of constant change and the need for companies to be flexible, why should organizations not be afraid to change software solutions?
There’s a new breed of enterprise software that’s equipped to handle today’s ever-changing world. Flexible enterprise software is provisioned as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), so don’t worry about the infrastructure it runs on. Your focus shifts to managing the business processes and utilizing the data to meet your business needs. This helps companies buy a robust and intuitive interface that continuously changes to anticipate their needs and better support the performance of routine processes.
Why is it important companies implement software that enables flexibility and change in a short time?
When you buy a SaaS enterprise software, the vendor can address the changes in the regulatory and compliance area by including them in the next release of the software, removing the burden from the customer. Also, these systems are modular by their very nature and can adapt to internal changes of business processes. By implementing software that allows for strategic changes to be implemented in a timely manner, organizations can pivot as needed to stay competitive.
For example, the finance department can perform scenario modeling and continuous forecasting; HR can reallocate people to new roles and support them through the change; the operations department can switch business partners with ease and scale up or down as needed; and IT can provide the organization with the agility it needs while containing costs.
External factors may drive the changes facing organizations in the coming years. They may be internal decisions, like developing a new business model based on unique insight into customer behavior. Either way, the organizations that will succeed in the ever-changing new standard will be those that have invested in flexible software that allows them to harness and work with the changes.