On-Going IT Response to the Global Pandemic: The View from a Front-Row Seat

David Rowe
Chief Product Officer & EVP, Global Transformation
5 min read
yellow paper airplane

In January’s “2020 State of the CIO Executive Summary,” the news was good for CIOs…

They were getting increased recognition from CEOs and colleagues for their growing and essential leadership role in business strategy, innovation, and revenue generation — while decreasing time spent on important yet “back-office” activities such as optimizing the enterprise IT infrastructure and expense management.

CIO’s 2020 Summary findings, from its September 2019 research survey, revealed these top focus activities for CIOs:

  • Security management
  • Aligning IT initiatives with business goals
  • Driving business innovation

What a difference just a few months can make.

In response to the global pandemic, the macroeconomic world has altered 2020’s best-laid IT plans. In April, CIO conducted a new survey, the COVID-19 Impact Study. Top CIO focus activities — functional, transformational, and strategic, respectively — now include:

  • Cost control/expense management
  • Redesigning business processes
  • Developing and refining business strategy

The Impact Study shows that CIOs have apparently quickly shifted their mindsets from strategic and innovative to responsive and preventive. Top investment priorities now include increasing operational efficiency and optimizing employees’ digital experiences within the new work-from-home (WFH) imperative.

The following analyzes these high-level Impact Study findings.


Cost Control: Capture Significant Budget Savings Quickly

Industry research1 shows that nearly 90% of IT budgets can be spent keeping the lights on, leaving only 10% available for innovation initiatives. With 79% of Impact Study respondents indicating that their IT budgets will likely remain the same or decrease in the next 12 months2, CIOs must find a way to resource necessary new business processes and business strategy initiatives using existing or fewer funds.

Getting it all done now and preparing for the future requires the same mindset that IT leaders are using to successfully combat the forces of the pandemic — foregoing traditional methods and optimizing resources in the face of sudden and formidable constraints. The impact of COVID-19 is forcing IT to reevaluate which projects are truly important and valuable to the business, now and in the near future. For example, IT updates traditionally considered non-optional, such as annual (or even more frequent) version upgrades for enterprise software and related technology stack components, are being reassessed. ROI and business value are refocusing priorities of costly status quo software updates.

Annual software maintenance is a huge expense for most that can be easily reduced by 50% with a switch from ERP software vendor support to independent support; it also eliminates the need to apply IT updates just to stay fully supported. Total savings, which can run in the millions of dollars, can be quickly redirected to critical new initiatives or used to answer the call of a corporate direct cost challenge involving a specific target and time frame.


Business Process Redesign: Realign Technology Staff Priorities

The Impact Study finds that 71% of respondents agree that the WFH mandate will likely impact how they plan for technology staffing.3 The advent of cloud computing and software-as-a-service (SaaS) technologies have contributed to an industry-wide skill shortage, leaving some organizations scrambling to right-size and right-skill their technology teams.

Legacy system experts are aging out of the workforce, while newly minted experts are more difficult to come by — and more expensive. An independent software support partner can fill skill gaps and help free up existing teams for more urgent matters demanded by the pandemic, such as business process redesign.

Independent, third-party software support can work as an extension of IT teams, supporting all legacy software brands and releases for up to 15 years so that client IT teams don’t have to. Leveraging independent expertise in all the latest technologies to best serve clients’ innovations, support can include comprehensive advisory services at no extra charge, helping clients improve IT operations and systems performance — another top functional focus area cited in the Impact Study findings.


Business Strategy Refinement: Follow the Best Roadmap

Staying on course strategically can require doing what’s difficult rather than doing what’s easy or habitual. The Impact Study findings show that IT leaders are already thinking ahead, through, and beyond the pandemic. Some are “using the crisis as a pivot point to modernize operations and put an end to wasteful practices and projects.”4

Implementing behavioral change is not easy, but can deliver high ROI. More than one third (36%) of Impact Study respondents identified “developing and refining business strategy” as their top priority.5 Switching to a strategic Business-Driven IT Roadmap from an ERP software vendor-dictated roadmap can help deliver higher ROI. Aligning IT spending with business priorities rather than with a vendor’s agenda can eliminate unnecessary spending and help course-correct business strategy.

The pandemic mandates rapid rethinking on a vast array of fronts. It’s a perfect storm that can facilitate resistance to software vendor pressure once and for all, in favor of forging a stronger strategic path. Independent software support helps clients to define their Business-Driven Roadmaps and break the wasteful cycle of overspending on enterprise software support.


Cybersecurity: Even More Important Now

Security management was in the top five focus areas for Impact Study respondents, and 33% cited it as their primary focus over the next 12 months. WFH “increases endpoint vulnerability, especially when many employees may be unaccustomed to using their laptops on the home Wi-Fi setup.”7

The CIO Summary from the September 2019 survey also cited security as an ongoing problem, given the complexity and pace of a changing landscape — and the significant risk to brand stature, customer satisfaction, and the bottom line if companies don’t get it right.

Advanced security products can help address this, and when added to independent software support and strategic professional services, the combination provides a unique support platform that enables an enterprise to focus resources — time, money, and workforce — on more strategic endeavors. This unique support offering has been defined by Rimini Street.


Moving Forward

This resilient world will not be defined by this pandemic, but organizations can harness its energy and leverage its urgency to create more cost-effective, efficient, and innovative IT environments. Every day, Rimini Street sees CIOs deftly pivoting to combat the overwhelming business effects of the pandemic.

David Rowe is CMO, Rimini Street

Disrupting the software industry more than a decade ago by creating the independent enterprise software support category, Rimini Street has had a front-row seat to the dynamic world inside IT ever since.

If you’d like to discuss these research findings and how they might inform your enterprise IT strategy, reach out to me at any time. I look forward to speaking with you.





[1]Gartner: “IT Key Metrics Data 2020: Executive Summary” December 18, 2019

[2]CIO: “Exclusive survey: What 400 IT leaders really think about the COVID-19 crisis” (Apr. 30, 2020), Eric Knorr, available at https://www.cio.com/article/3541508/exclusive-survey-what-400-it-leaders-really-think-about-the-covid-19-crisis.html.

[3]Op. Cit. Eric Knorr

[4]Op. Cit. Eric Knorr

[5]Op. Cit. Eric Knorr

[6]Op. Cit. Eric Knorr

[7]Op. Cit. Eric Knorr