Six months into the new decade, the country and the businesses that keep it running are dealing with a recession brought on by a pandemic that has killed nearly 130,000 Americans and shaped the way companies conduct business. Amid lockdowns and uncertainty, a justice movement had businesses reflecting on their roles in creating systemic inequality.
As COVID-19 propelled the U.S. further into uncertainty, CIOs took the reins and technology kept businesses afloat. Eventually companies will look back at 2020 and determine who drove digital transformation: the CEO, CIO or COVID-19?
To showcase how quickly the news cycle moved, and how CIO priorities changed accordingly, CIO Dive rounded up the top stories of each month this year:
Since 2017, Kraft Heinz's market value has depreciated by 64%. Corrado Azzarita, who took the IT helm in September, had his eyes on data analytics to fill the gaps where the company wasn't meeting consumer trends.
Since then: In its latest earnings, Kraft Heinz beat expectations, though analysts credit COVID-19's pressure on consumers to stock pantries for the uptick.
Industry was a month into the California Consumer Privacy Act's enactment, waiting on final rules for enforcement. But February was the first sign of COVID-19's impact on the U.S. RSA Conference was around the corner and industry titans — including AT&T and IBM — were withdrawing from attendance, citing safety concerns for their employees.
Since then: California Attorney General Xavier Becerra submitted his final rules proposal in June. With approval still pending, legal experts don't expect the regulations to go into effect until October, despite the July 1 enforcement deadline.
Stay-at-home orders began in the U.S. in March — offices, schools, public amenities were all emptied. To uphold some normalcy, organizations and people adopted communication tools for the first time and it showed. Untrained users relying on Zoom revealed security gaps in the platform. The month is blemished by "Zoom bombing."
Since then: After exercising a 90-day feature freeze and consulting with a CISO advisory board, Zoom has extended end-to-end encryption to all tiers of users. The company also named a former Salesforce executive CISO last month.
By April, it was clear COVID-19 was more than a catastrophic health crisis; it was an economic one too. CIOs settled into 2020 budgets were reassessing where funds would best go in a new COVID-19 landscape. Capital expenditures and workforce investments were the first to see cost cuts.
Since then: CIO projects slated for 2020 were either slowed down or stopped altogether. Software development investments for digital assets or internal tools were put on the back burner. Assessing when projects can return to their intended pace of implementation will depend on an industry's resilience to a recession.
A full return to an office environment is unlikely for many companies. Silicon Valley darlings, including Google and Salesforce, told staff they don't plan on returning to offices until 2021. Mulling over tools that might facilitate a safer working environment — including contact tracing and health apps — is a task CIOs might never have anticipated in a pre-COVID-19 world.
Since then: Apple and Google's contact tracing software was released ahead of schedule. Initial entities wishing to trial the technology have had issue with scaling their contact tracing infrastructure.
Still in the first wave of COVID-19, with the anticipation of a second wave come fall, companies revved up cloud adoption. Though security is a lingering issue for "all-in" cloud databases, Gartner expects 33.3% year-over-year increase in cloud security spending.
Since then: Though spending on tech is expected to decline 8-9%, CIOs will seek ways to minimize cost while pursuing goals. Vendor negotiations, application governance and experimentation will take precedence. For example, to facilitate remote work, companies such as American Express are leaning on cloud-based services for telemetry.