Collaborating in a Time of Uncertainty

Collaboration across borders with networks and relationships
Tech leaders have a key challenge on their hands – to manage the current situation arising from the coronavirus while preparing for a rebound. How can CIOs, CTOs, and CISOs enable employees to connect, communicate, and collaborate virtually, safely and securely in this time of uncertainty?

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Governments and authorities across continents, countries, and states have implemented restrictions on human interaction to limit transmission of the coronavirus. We are only becoming aware of the impact of COVID-19 as it unfolds.

Businesses and organizations have responded to the policies and protocols by instructing employees to work from home for their own safety and those of others.

New working challenges are presenting themselves in the wake of increasing and sometimes excessive business and media communications on this global pandemic. The increased reliance and strain on home (personal) networks and remote working technologies present new challenges for employees and managers to effectively manage productivity and enhance collaboration.

CIOs, CTOs, and CISOs everywhere will be focused on how to manage enterprise systems and software, innovation and product transformation, and security to ensure business continuity and competitive advantage. Tech leaders have a key challenge on their hands – to manage the current situation while preparing for a rebound.

The role of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) has many guises. In some organizations it is wrapped up in the role of the Chief Technology Officer (CTO). Organizations are also required to have a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) in place – a necessary role responsible for creating, implementing, and monitoring strategy and programs designed to protect information assets and technologies. This role may be performed by a CIO or a CTO depending on the size, sector, and focus of the organization.

BCG says that digital technology went everywhere with the cloud, but have security practices kept up? For the first time in its nine-year history, the Allianz Risk Barometer 2020 ranked cyber as the top business risk globally based on insight of more than 2,700 risk management experts from 100 countries and territories.

Back in 2019, Gartner predicted that CIOs would be responsible for culture change – has their time come expedited by COVID-19? The global pandemic is spurring further digital transformation by forcing people working remotely to adapt and rely on personal networks for heavy business use.

Cybersecurity is more critical than ever. The coronavirus pandemic brings the role of technology leaders into the spotlight as employees have moved from physical to virtual working. Remote working creates new risks that may not be contained within the corporate infrastructure. As employees adapt to the new normal, they grapple with technology issues that impede productivity whilst reorganizing and distancing their professional and personal lives in one single environment. This may expose the organization’s network and infrastructure to cyber risk e.g. employees may find other ways to help them work using technology that contravenes security and information policies.

Tech leaders will need to address how they can help employees increase and manage productivity as they depend on such personal networks. The pressure on tech leaders is great. How can they enable employees to connect, communicate, and collaborate virtually, safely and securely:

Communication: with their ecosystem of colleagues, suppliers, partners, and customers. Going virtual means no more informal chats by the water cooler, in the corridor or over coffee. This can affect the quality of decisions as Tech leaders seek to drive adoption of reliable communication channels – Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts or Zoom anyone?

Connectivity: with technology that empowers employees to replicate a near in-office working experience is easier said than done. We are all searching for that optimal rhythm. Technology can help us communicate and collaborate be it through enhanced VPNs, SaaS toolsets with built-in security, or others.

Collaboration: between colleagues inside and outside their teams through relationships and networks to support internal and external collaboration. The adoption of collaboration tools like Office 365 and G Suite which enable documents, spreadsheets and presentations to be collaboratively created in a SaaS environment, is skyrocketing.

By keeping in touch with their networks, monitoring changes in relationships between contacts, teams can continue to collaborate and keep business goals in sight. Our relationships are an asset, which can help us navigate these uncharted waters. Technology is the enabler.

The BoardEx Response

For some months at BoardEx before this pandemic began, we have had an Ideas Portal established to create a centralized, visible, and transparent feedback loop for our teams sitting across the world. Market insight, internal data, and customer feedback are triangulated to drive innovation.

Everyone can view and search existing ideas, submit, comment and vote on ideas, and see which ideas are trending and are popular. The ideas are prioritized and appraised on how they will improve the customer experience.

With critical mass, forums like these can:

  • Enable liquidity in ideation;
  • Provide the ability to productize selected ideas – this can result in compelling new datasets which can power, add, or complement existing value propositions; and
  • Propel collective innovation in such challenging times.

Whatever your channel for collaboration, valuing ideas with rewards will support a continuous feedback loop, creating trust among employees. It may not be an ideal way to make decisions, but it is a way to help people to share and transfer ideas.

About the author

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Ayasha is a member of the Product team and leads Product Marketing at BoardEx. Her professional career spans over 19 years and includes marketing B2B products, services and solutions within data services, financial services, professional services and fintech. She has an MBA from Imperial College London, an MSc in Sociology from the London School of Economics and a BA in Sociology from the University of Central Lancashire.

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