Entering April, work day-to-day in the new normal is understood. Employees have long since retrieved key workstation requirements from the office (monitors, keyboards, chairs, etc.) for the newly-dedicated home office.
Companies have pivoted from quick, reactive actions to factoring in medium- to long-term financial projections. Budgets are cut, hiring is frozen and projects are halted in favor of preserving liquidity and retaining staff above all else.
For executives, there is no pandemic to draw knowledge on to inform how they respond to impacts of the coronavirus. Advice and best practices are guided by instinct and business continuity plans.
That has left chief information officers and other technology executives leaning on each other, the business technology executive peer network, to benchmark response and help strategize the coming months.
CIOs today are crisis management leaders, Laserfiche CIO Thomas Phelps told CIO Dive. "We're truly in the forefront" and want to leverage CIO networks for guidance and leadership.
Using personal cell phone numbers, Phelps is texting with CIOs — even at midnight. Another CIO was navigating how to work with the CEO to shift quickly to the remote landscape. After reaching out to peers, they could report back to executive leadership about how to respond.
One CIO's innovation — or obstacle — can cue a network to best practices and identify solutions for the rapid transition and economic constraint all are experiencing.
Consider it the community's guide to crisis management.
CIOs are genuinely trying to help each other, Jacqueline Guichelaar, Group CIO at Cisco, said during a webinar last week.
Cisco has 140,000 employees and partners working remotely. While transitioning to remote work occurred in phases, starting with areas in China hit early by the outbreak, it quickly became a crisis impacting the company's global workforce.
To scale, shifting from 25,000 people working from home to entire workforce across 96 counties, was "going to be a challenge," Guichelaar said.
The company initially focused on basic connectivity and collaboration, ensuring traffic kept going through pipes and tech kept operating to serve customers. From there, it could address special use cases and maintain security.
Cisco's experience was a pressure test and Guichelaar could work with a network to troubleshoot, helping with questions such as, "how do I scale my collaboration," or "how do I deploy and secure my newly 20,000 newly-acquired laptops."
Tapping into the peer network offers insight on technical constraints and highlights how others are managing the workforce as they adapt to working from home. Engineering best practices, troubleshooting helpdesk and maintaining uptime are all under consideration.
For other CIOs, this is the ultimate test: the pandemic fell during their first year on the job.
Andrea Siudara, CIO of Altair, joined the company seven months ago and has reached out to counterparts from previous work lives, including some retired CIOs, just to check in.
It varies by industry and sometimes the size and scale of some solutions don't fit with Altair's technology stack, Siudara told CIO Dive. She reached out to companies and CIOs at more tech firms to make sure the things I was prioritizing wasn't out of balance or neglecting anything critical.
Everybody has been really amazing about sharing and "all seem to be helping one another out," she said.