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Reopening the workplace in this new normal will no doubt be a challenge. CIOs and IT leaders must respond quickly to the seismic changes to the work environment created by COVID-19, and lead the effort to connect data, implement new digital capabilities, and improve workflows. As organizations look to reopen their doors, both to employees and customers, the focus on health and safety needs to continue. CIOs must also lead their businesses in optimizing the remote, in-person, and hybrid employee experience. 

#1 Manage safety for in-person workers based on data

Connecting data and systems to build a single view of the enterprise is critical to stabilizing your business and monitoring the health and safety of your employees. As companies look to reopen their doors, to both employees and customers, additional safety measures must be in place.

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First and foremost, compliance with national and local orders and protecting high-risk employees is a must. Additionally, the business must make data-driven decisions on employee,

customer, and public safety. Workers should have a say in these decisions and should feel safe in the environments they are asked to operate in. As decisions are made, policies and standards must be clear and enforceable.

At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, the IT teams at AXA Luxembourg and AXA Wealth Europe was under immense pressure to ensure that employees were able to deliver the same high-quality customer service and connectivity while working remotely. Olivier Vansteelandt, the CIO of AXA Luxembourg and AXA Wealth Europe, says that IT played the critical role in enabling AXA employees to work safely from home. Vaxnsteelandt says the team is now entering the second phase of the crisis — which involves finding new ways to work under these new conditions. 

“We changed our operations from paper-based work to now a paperless environment. We need to capitalize on that to avoid coming back to the previous way we were working. That’s the next step for us in IT — to go the extra mile and to finalize the transformation.”

– Olivier Vansteelandt, CIO, AXA Luxembourg and AXA Wealth Europe

#2 Establish contact tracing

With reopening, CIOs begin to navigate the increased complexities of managing the health of in-person and remote workers. Establishing contact tracing early is important. However, rolling out contact tracing to your workforce is a balancing act that requires sensitivity around privacy and security. It is critical that you keep up with the latest public health information and standards so your organization can best manage employee and customer health and safety. Employees must be able to opt-in and contact tracing should be done manually to ensure privacy.

How to implement and integrate manual contact tracing:

  1. Take an API-led approach to integrating human resources, employee benefits, and internal and external health-related systems and data.
  2. Give employees the option to opt-in. Use integration to capture consent information securely.
  3. Allow employees to manually report COVID-19 status through contact tracing application.
  4. Automate communications and recommended next steps to reporting employees if needed.

#3 Set up contactless operations

The way businesses are interacting with customers has changed quickly due to national and local policies and, additionally, many customers are looking for different ways to reduce contact and exposure to the virus when engaging with businesses. Delivering more contactless experiences for customers will require integrating data, systems, and applications in new ways to fill operational gaps.

This isn’t just a nice-to-have for CIOs. To maintain customer trust and loyalty you and your IT teams need to deliver on these expectations, especially because you are dealing with the health and safety of your customers. By taking an API-led approach to integration, you will significantly reduce the time to launch new capabilities initiatives to deliver on customer expectations. It will also give developers the building blocks they need to continue to quickly react to shifts in customer demands around health and safety.

Theis the body where the railway industry in Great Britain comes together and it promotes change and innovation across all train operating companies across the UK. When the pandemic first struck, RDG needed to get information out quickly to rail customers — on services and timetables and now as we recover on which times people should avoid due to loading and congestion. 

The pandemic is shifting the way RDG operates moving forward and its IT team is instrumental in leading that shift. To ensure that rail customers and employees have minimal contact — RDG is moving toward digital ticketing and increased access to information for riders, such as joined up train timetables. These types of changes give riders the ability to self-serve information and purchase tickets via the industry’s digital interfaces. 

“Before the pandemic, we were already on a journey towards introducing more digital ticketing – but actually, we can see that massively accelerating now. It’s not only in the interests of customers, but also staff members in railway stations. We need to get beyond customers having to queue at train stations to buy and collect paper tickets.

The more we can deliver ticketing and information and discount schemes remotely, the more we can give customers the certainty and confidence to travel, because they know they have a valid ticket that will get them through station barriers and to their destination on time. So here we see a crisis situation accelerating an ambition that we already had, by highlighting the need to minimize human-to-human contact as much as possible.” 

– Simon Moorhead, Rail Delivery Group, CIO

#4 Build resilience into your IT infrastructure to handle future crises

While no one can foresee something like the global crisis caused by COVID-19 and the impact it might have, organizations can take steps to build resilience into their infrastructure, processes, and culture so they are set up the best they can to weather any crisis.

In the traditional model of IT infrastructure — where on-premises systems, SaaS, mobile, and IoT devices are connected through custom code and point-to-point integrations — central IT owns every piece of the application stack, as well as security and governance. An infrastructure based on point-to-point and tightly coupled integrations amasses technical debt and quickly becomes unmanageable, brittle, and makes it more difficult to adapt to changes in the market caused by a crisis.

CIOs have the opportunity to lead the effort to build more resilience into their businesses. IT infrastructure is the backbone of an organization. As you look to build a more modern and flexible IT infrastructure, you will enable your IT teams to automate and build more resilient business processes. With the right infrastructure and processes in place, you have what you need to begin creating a culture of resilience — where you can approach every new challenge, application, or integration with resilience in mind.

So, how do you build a more resilient IT infrastructure? By decentralizing application ownership, but having your central IT team still own security and governance. This can be accomplished with an API-led approach to your infrastructure and integration management.

Your modern IT infrastructure must be composable. This means that you need to allow relevant constituents in the business to take pieces of information or the bits of functionality that they need from your central IT infrastructure and build new experiences. You need to have the component pieces of your IT infrastructure as composable APIs or composable services, that your IT teams can pull together in different ways to quickly design and deploy new applications and services.

With a foundation built on a resilient IT infrastructure, CIOs are now able to instill resilience across the organization. Your IT teams can use and reuse the composable APIs and services that are part of your infrastructure to automate processes to reduce dependencies. They will also be ready to react to market, work environment, and customer behavior changes caused by a crisis and quickly launch new digital capabilities to fill operational gaps. You are not just preparing for the next crisis with API-led connectivity — you are building a future-proof IT architecture.

CIOs and IT leaders are uniquely positioned to lead the reopening of business. To learn more about these steps as well as additional steps to reopening and growing beyond this crisis, download the CIO guide to crisis recovery.