With government announcing further lockdown measures, it's clear that we're all going to be living with COVID-19 for some time to come.
The pandemic has changed the way we live and work, at the same time changing the skills we need. How has this impacted IT leaders, who are very much at the front and centre of their organisations today?
Computing spoke to some of the CIO steering committee for its upcoming IT Leaders Festival, coming to your screens from the 20th to the 22nd October 2020, to find out.
For some, the most pressing need is to get ever closer to the business.
"We need close proximity to the Board and Executive Committee to manage the existing primary, secondary and tertiary effects of Covid and at the same time develop a sustainable and ongoing higher-level visibility of technology," said Charles Ewen, CIO of the Met Office.
Laura Meyer, CIO of HarperCollins, added emotional intelligence to the mix.
"IT leaders today need emotional Intelligence, communication and an understanding of the priorities for their businesses to identify any digital transformation that can take place," she said.
But these soft skills don't overwrite the need to maintain a strong grip on technology, warns Aubrey Stearn, CTO of Oakam Ltd.
"The obvious is a strong technology acumen. We're going to see a rapid pace of change and adjustment as we seek a new normal post-covid. Commercial acumen can't be understated too. With so many talented folks in the market pool and active, hiring will become increasingly more competitive, so I think we're going to need to get creative with how we attract future talent."
Ian Johns, chief architect of King's College London agreed with Stearn's point about commercial acumen, and added a host of other necessary skills.
"IT leaders need to change their mindset from service provider to agents of change. We used to change technology to fit into our businesses, now we need to change our businesses to fit into the latest technology.
"This requires a suite of skills often found outside the IT department - commercial vision, marketing, empathy, data integrity (COOs usually have a low level of trust in numbers produced by IT) and effective strategies for developing digital capability in the workforce."
Alison Davis, CIO of the Natural History Museum, reinforced the need to be an "agent of change", adding that behaviours are equally important.
"In my view, IT leaders will, more than ever, need to be agents of change. Organisations are going to need to adapt to a new post-Covid world, possibly through multiple transformations as the situation fully unveils. IT leaders will need to respond to this and have the skills to manage the change, both within IT and as an enabler for the wider organisation. In the context of this, behaviours will be as important as skills. IT leaders will need to be resilient, imaginative and authentic."
Meanwhile, Paul Jennings, head of ICT operations at Imperial College London pointed to leadership and coaching.
"Authentic leadership is key, a mix of coaching and directive leadership styles is essential to be able to maximise results and bring people with you."
Two of the most common themes to emerge are the need to be a true business leader, and to communicate effectively both with senior business colleagues, and technology teams. None of these skills are new to the post-Covid world, however the urgency of the need to hone them to perfection has increased.
With businesses now utterly reliant on technology, IT leaders need to be certain that they're able to cope with the added pressures.
Computing's IT Leaders Festival is happening from the 20th-22nd October, and is free to attend for members of the IT industry. With a host of keynotes, panels, workshops, networking and fringe events, there's something for every IT role, and every industry. Register now!
Although its base is in London, Code Enigma has no central location and has always operated remotely
How can you create a safe environment that enables failure, innovation and growth within the team? Find out at the IT Leaders Festival 2020
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