Requirements for social distancing, shop closures, and delivery delays are just a few of the everyday inconveniences caused by the COVID-19 epidemic. Supply chain experts, probably more than any other business area, are experiencing these upheavals.

As a result, the demand for virtual CIO services skyrocketed because many organizations needed to make an instant transition to digital services, but they did not have the in-house expertise to do so. Let’s take a look at some of the disruptions that were impacted by the pandemic.

Demand decreases as a result of disruption

The need or desire for your product may vary for various reasons, and a decrease in appetite results in a demand reduction. It's often simpler to forecast and minimize the effect of an internally driven change, such as a new product design or a decrease in marketing activities, when you know what's occurring and when. External disruptive factors have the potential to spiral demand.

Airlines have been severely disrupted as demand for air travel fell by more than 95% in April compared to April 2019. People needed to remain at home and be secure, which meant that business trips, vacations, and other non-essential travel were halted. Continued limitations, health concerns, and border controls have impacted and will continue to affect air travel demand for an extended period.

Demand spikes

The polar opposite of a demand decline is an abrupt rise in the desire and necessity for your product—a demand surge. While inevitable demand spikes, such as the upcoming Christmas season, may be anticipated and planned for, situations like the pandemic can result in demand surges on supply chains that are completely unprepared.

Consider the notorious toilet paper crisis of early March 2020 as an example of a demand spike. When states in the United States started declaring quarantines, panicked shoppers purchased more toilet paper than providers anticipated. This was a period of increased demand.

On the flip side of this increase is a decline in demand for commercial-use toilet paper. Because no one was using the bathroom at the workplace, in restaurants, or airports, the need for large-roll commercial toilet paper almost vanished. This is an example of a product seeing both a decline and a spike in sales and distinct kinds of the product.

Decreased productivity

Reduced productivity may be caused by a personnel shortfall, equipment deficit, or almost any other circumstance that lowers your business's production.

Each step of the supply chain may suffer fluctuations in staff numbers, damaged equipment, and other factors that result in decreased production. Still, this virus epidemic has resulted in a remarkable reduction in output across all stages. Decreased productivity during this pandemic disruption results from both the reduced number of workers and their mental and physical well-being.

Many companies furloughed employees temporarily and some permanently. Reduced productivity is a result of fewer employees. When combined with the pandemic's impact on morale, dread, bewilderment, and elevated anxiety levels among workers who retained their employment, productivity is set to suffer another setback.

Storage and access restrictions

Contamination-related problems at manufacturing facilities and warehouse closures are two typical storage and access interruptions impacting the supply chain. External factors such as natural catastrophes and virus epidemics often result in these kinds of limitations.

Many manufacturing and processing plants were shuttered temporarily, requiring supply chain executives to make significant adjustments to storage and product handling. Others have reorganized warehouse layouts to meet social distance criteria for employee safety.

Due to the epidemic, meat production and storage have been interrupted, resulting in storage and supply problems. Cold storage alternatives must be changed to accommodate changing supply chain needs, building access limits are imposed due to the danger of virus infection, and meat products intended for commercial consumption must be kept, disposed of, or repackaged for consumer purchase.

Use digitization to become more robust and resilient

Making your company less susceptible to failure begins with determining what is most likely to fail. One of the most crucial business lessons learned from the pandemic is the rapid evolution of digital processes from emergent to established. It occurred almost immediately, and businesses soon discovered how swiftly and efficiently they could react to change.

According to McKinsey, COVID-19 accelerated digital innovation by seven years. That makes intuitive sense since the issue for a process like onboarding is not if we would have computerized it someday, but rather when. Today, most people realize that we are capable of reacting more swiftly and agilely than previously thought.

Determine what can break

Making your organization less breakable starts with considering the inverse—what is most likely to break your company. Typically, this is a manual process that is excessively sluggish, fragmented, or dependent on a small number of critical workers.

In such situations, process handoffs become complicated, interdependencies become opaque, and speed becomes near-impossible. And when a critical person or, worse, a whole area is absent, your operations rapidly deteriorate.

Digitize business processes and knowledge

Once your manual processes have been identified and mapped, digitize them to bring people, devices, systems, and data together in a single workflow.

This offers the visibility necessary to identify and avoid obstacles. Additionally, it aids in the centralization and codification of the institutional knowledge that underpins your business.

Automate to optimize operations

After digitizing your processes, consider automating them. On a fundamental level, this might imply self-service password reset, ensuring that your company is not harmed if IT is unavailable or busy.

At a higher level, it may include hyper-automation, which combines artificial intelligence, robotic process automation, and process mining to enable companies to automate end-to-end business and information technology operations.

Hyper-automation, in particular, promises a more agile, efficient, and productive company in which humans concentrate on innovation, strategy, and empathy while computers take care of the rest.

Why hire a virtual CIO?

Many businesses discover that hiring a CIO is not viable and that the duties usually allocated to a CIO end up on the CEO or CFO's plate. These responsibilities often involve evaluating and analyzing the strength of existing systems and disaster recovery plans and creating budgets for future information technology expenditures. Often, these businesses resort to a virtual CIO service to assist in offloading these responsibilities.

Further, it is not always feasible to delegate these responsibilities to an internal IT manager. These managers are often inundated with service ticket requests or are tasked with putting out various fires, whether it's a server problem, a virus, or setting up a new employee's desktop. These activities may be very time-intensive, and as a result, responsibilities such as planning and budgeting for IT expansion often get put on the back burner. Additionally, these supervisors get burnt out and overwhelmed by the volume of duties.

Among the advantages of a virtual CIO and IT consulting services are the following:

Knowledge and Expertise: When an outside firm takes on the job of a CIO, the company is focused on creating a strategic roadmap for your business. Additionally, it often offers unique expertise and insight from previous work with businesses comparable to yours.

Cost savings: Hiring a CIO is a costly proposition. These annual salaries are often over six digits, not including PTO and benefits or stock options. Outsourcing enables the business to get the advantages of planning and budgeting without incurring significant expenses.

Creating a technology roadmap: Information technology is not a cost of conducting a company. Rather than that, it should be seen as a tool that can and should be utilized to further broader corporate goals. A virtual CIO may develop an IT strategy to support the development and objectives of the company.

Developing a security and disaster recovery plan: Unfortunately, security and disaster recovery plans are often overlooked until a catastrophe has happened or security has been compromised. A virtual CIO anticipates and mitigates these risks by creating and executing a preventive strategy.

In summary

Most businesses struggle to keep up with their fundamental business problems, much alone managing their technology effectively. Even small IT teams are often overburdened by maintaining internal systems and operations, much alone strategic planning.

Numerous businesses are mired in a rut, continuing to use antiquated technology that impairs performance. Of course, the ultimate aim is to utilize technology to generate revenue and reduce costs. However, suppose you are not using the appropriate technology to assist you in accomplishing your objectives. In that case, there is a strong possibility that a significant portion of your money is being squandered.

When was the last time you examined which programs you use and which ones you're spending money on since no one uses them?

While you may have an excellent in-house IT staff capable of keeping your infrastructure up and running, it is often necessary to bring in third-party IT consultants to provide a new viewpoint.

A neutral "hired gun" is in a far better position to detect potential problems and offer suggestions for upgrading or replacing old systems and processes.

Many people wonder, "what are IT consulting services?" The answer is that they are an excellent method for cutting expenses while gaining access to knowledge and technology that you probably cannot afford to offer in-house! This may include access to services such as a virtual CIO.

If you would like to dig deeper, we can share how our virtual CIO services can ensure you have the right technology in place for future growth - reach out here!