IT Leadership: 10 Ways the CIO Role Changed in 2020

The pandemic presented IT leaders with an incredibly disruptive set of circumstances. But those challenges also brought new opportunities.

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To call 2020 a year of unexpected change is a massive understatement. The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting lockdowns disrupted nearly everything about life as we know it, including the role of the enterprise chief information officer.

For IT leaders, 2020 has been a year of challenge that could lead to great opportunity. Tech teams had to support a dramatic shift from most professionals working primarily in the office to most employees working entirely from home. And for many organizations, that shift happened literally overnight. CIOs had to handle new customer demands, new strains on their network, and a torrent of new cyberattacks. Those who handled those stressors well helped keep their companies in business and earned the respect of top management.

Image: Kotangens -

Image: Kotangens –

These savvy CIOs are realizing that their responses to 2020’s disruptions are opening up new paths for them to achieve their organizational and personal goals. In its 2021 CIO Agenda report, Gartner notes, “During the Covid-19 lockdown, many CIOs helped save their enterprises. They now have the attention of the CEO in a way they hadn’t before.”

But in order to capitalize on the opportunities that attention brings, CIOs will need to adapt their strategies and execute in a way that will set them apart from the competition. Writing in their Predictions 2021 report, Forrester analysts caution, “Much of your success will depend on how quickly and how well you harness technology to both enable your workforce in the new normal and build platforms that differentiate your firm.”

What exactly does that new normal look like? And what are the conditions under which CIOs will be working in the near future?

The following slides highlight 10 ways the CIO role has changed in 2020, paying special attention to those changes that are likely to remain relevant even after the pandemic has ended.

Cynthia Harvey is a freelance writer and editor based in the Detroit area. She has been covering the technology industry for more than fifteen years. View Full Bio

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