Soldiering on in the Corona Crisis – What’s Keeping CIOs Busy

Pratima Harigunani
New Update

Safety, reassurance, business continuity and new brown-bag sessions – Most CIOs are moving ahead with clarity on what really matters in these tough times – as a quick glance at some CIO dashboards shows.


This is neither the time for blues, nor the hour for yellow lights. From keeping employees safe, keeping them involved, keeping them equipped for smooth remote work, keeping them compensated and motivated to shifting time and resources to new pockets that can now use the spare muscle – CIOs are turning up as front-liners fighting the Corona chaos with renewed rigour and grit.

If you look at Pertisth Mankotia, CIO, Sheela Foam, this iconic industry figure is busier than ever in the Corona lockdown. He exudes the same Monday-like voice and energy when he tells he is meeting all his business heads and functions in the new-found time that both the sides have got now. With the daily business tread-mill and firefighting out of the way, he is making sure that captains use this extra time to get together and think of where and how IT and business can find future-relevant innovations. “I am also working on making the work-from-home capability better and taking a candid approach at addressing the gaps and lessons that we might encounter now.” He says, underlining that this is the best time to catch up with the business hats and get ready with more fuel, force and immunity to embrace business challenges of the future.

For Rajarshi Bhattacharya, VP, Head of IT Delivery Global & India, Philips Innovation Center, the first priority is to make sure that all folks – employees and partners - stay safe and healthy. “We want to ensure they have adequate resources. Most of them are working from home now. We have to equip them with good infrastructure for smooth work. Regular stand-up meetings are happening to check safety, health and productivity aspects.” But he also notes that the next goal is to prioritise projects well apart from the in-flight ones that are underway.


“Low-impact projects can go on the backburner now. We are also preparing to be ready for working with limited workforce to ensure employee safety and continuity together.”

He also reminds that IT has the responsibility to give the business reason and momentum when the crisis settles down. “Data security and infrastructure areas were, anyway, covered in our Business Continuity Plans or BCP, so that is helping us move forward with stability and safety.”

Siva Kumar, Chief Technology Officer, Zaggle tells that - Keeping employees safe and reassured is our foremost concern right now. “We have done everything we can – training, awareness, work-from-home directives, removal of biometrics, office sanitisation etc. From initial measures to current lockdown scenario – we are evolving our efforts in stronger and focused ways. For example – we have introduced a Covid Bonus of Rs. 10,000 so that employees can buy necessary supplies and continue life smoothly in lockdown situations. We want to assure them that we have their backs. That is where we are also erasing any fears or possibility of manpower reduction or compensation changes.”


Surprisingly, most of our work-from-home shifts happened very smoothly, Kumar reflects. “Since we are a fintech company, data security was already an important aspect for our operations. VPN connectivity, policies and firewalls—everything is going smoothly to make the business work well in a remote way.”

But next, he wants to make sure that work does not get affected—and that is not too daunting as most of the work we cover can be done from anywhere with our infrastructure, he explains. “But assuming some demand-dips on the client side, we are also mulling shifting that extra time and resource-tank to building new features in our products – which we always wanted to do. Most resources and employee hours can be moved from clients to product development now that we have some spare bandwidth.”

Keeping the lights on is the top-most goal for most CIOs, specially in a remote-working scenario and where uncertainty envelopes everyone and every area.


"In these challenging and testing times, U GRO Capital continues to empathise with our employees, our customers and our partners. Our top priority is to ensure all those associated with us remain safe while we continue to provide them with timely help and support. U GRO Capital continues to demonstrate ‘Customer-first’ approach as we are helping our customers to navigate through this Lockdown period in India by providing them with appropriate guidance and advice, supporting them in managing payment and cash-flow cycles by leveraging our tech-enabled platforms.” Shares Sunit Vakharia, CIO at UGRO Capital

He adds that employee care and safety as the top priority. “Without jeopardising the wellbeing of our employees and on-field sales staff, we have developed tech-enabled infrastructure that supports a ‘Work-from-Home’ environment with multiple communication tools. This empowers our employees to engage with their colleagues, customers and regulatory officials through audio, video and chat services. Customer-first and employee-care will remain key focus areas for U GRO Capital over the next 30 days. Our Digital platforms are our gateway to offer all our stakeholders a seamless experience of interacting and building businesses with us."

For Manikant R Singh, CISO, DMI Group, the priorities are clear and five-pronged: Enabling technology transition is seamless for BAU, keeping the motivation of the team intact and ensuring that the IT team is able to completely use all possible tools to ease remote working, constant and positive communication, not losing focus on risks arising in this crisis while ensuring lower gaps in potential failure points.

Every CIO is facing the same challenge today – to balance safety with productivity, as Bhattacharya underscores. “We are also focusing on projects that will enable us to give back to the business because that is going to be important to help things in the future.”

Indeed, that’s the spirit we need now – to make sure that we are headed forward, to not lose hope and to stay ready for the green lights. Godspeed!

covid-19 cio bcp