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In Crisis, IT Leaders Are Keeping Teams and Customers Connected

In Crisis, IT Leaders Are Keeping Teams and Customers Connected

IT leaders are now doing the heavy lifting to improve employee and customer experience. Vijay Iyer shares what we can learn from the CIOs who are leading in crisis.

As office workers switch to remote work en masse, information technology (IT) leaders are doing the heavy lifting to improve employee and customer experience. Vijay Iyer, Head – Employee & Customer Experience Specialists, leads a team of Employee & Customer Experience Specialists at Salesforce. He shares what we can learn from IT leaders who are proving very good at keeping teams and customers connected.

Six months ago, Chief Information Officers said one of their biggest challenges to the improvement of employee experience was ‘IT is treated like a support function instead of a business partner’.

What a difference six months makes.

It would be very difficult to find an organisation today that does not consider IT a core enabler of success. In an entirely new and, by necessity, immensely flexible work environment, all stakeholders require trust in the fact that their data is being encrypted, that they have access to the right information, and that they can access the information needed to do their work from anywhere and at any time.

IT leaders and their teams have had to pivot quickly to meet specific and urgent needs. The simple act of onboarding and training a new employee, at their home instead of in a centralised office, takes on an entirely new level of difficulty, for example.

The shape of IT teams has become fluid. Team members have been redistributed to cope with constantly changing demands. 

IT departments have also become at least partly responsible for the emotional wellbeing of staff. Some staff have been separated from their families. Others were forced to return early from their honeymoon. Some have been unable to come back into where they’re primarily based. Every individual – whether they have faced one of those situations or not – has felt uncomfortable and uncertain at different points in this process. 

The work of a IT leader and their team – whether an app, a chat platform, expanded virtual private network capabilities – enables a sense of belonging and security that helps people cope during difficult times. While everyone is experiencing this current climate ‘storm’, we are all in different boats.  The purpose of IT leaders has changed dramatically, and we’re hearing some spectacular stories from their endeavours.

The IT leaders who are hitting it out of the park

Two examples of IT leaders who helped their companies to provide excellent employee and customer services come to mind:


Maxicare is the top health maintenance organisation in the Philippines. When COVID-19 struck, Maxicare’s first priority was to take care of their employees and ensure that they could safely continue to work. 

According to Sylvia Stolk, Chief Digital & Transformation Officer, Maxicare’s employees had to transition from working at Maxicare facilities to working from home. Maxicare set up a “Maxicare WoW (Ways of Working)” microsite that helped employees with adapting to working from home. The microsite had learning materials on how to set up home networks, access systems, and leverage user productivity tools for collaboration. Maxicare also used Service Cloud to orchestrate services and ensure continuity of care.

Maxicare’s transition to remote work was successful and as a result, Maxicare was able to provide uninterrupted care to its members.


Headquartered in Singapore, SingEx is a leading meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) company partnering businesses on customer-insight driven audience engagement solutions. It is also a venue operator and manages Singapore EXPO & MAX Atria, Singapore’s largest purpose-built MICE venue.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, SingEx repurposed Singapore EXPO & MAX Atria into a temporary community care facility for recovering COVID-19 patients. In view of the scale of operations and the need to urgently align multiple parties on site for rapid response times, SingEx used Service Cloud and Community Cloud to set up a digital command centre. This gave a single view of the facility’s operational requirements such as internet services and waste management.

SingEx used Service Cloud to manage onsite providers and agencies, including the facility’s managing agent, medical groups, security services, and infrastructure agencies. These onsite providers and agencies were also enabled to use the digital command centre.

Rizwan Hazarika, Chief Digital Officer, said that after SingEx’s success with Service Cloud and Community Cloud, the company is now looking into how else Salesforce can complement its current efforts to transform and recalibrate internal work processes. The next challenge: Strengthening core capabilities for a digital-first world.

IT leaders must set priorities

Every organisation is unique in its operations, meaning every IT leader must set priorities before deciding where and how resources must be distributed.

At Salesforce, we created a COVID-19 Customer Response Hub and quickly addressed three priorities:

  1. All current information related to COVID-19, so the teams have one place to find everything they need to support our customers and community with help quickly and effectively.
  2. Expanding our employee wellness resources, with different programs each week to help everyone stay focused and feel good – online childcare activities, education and training, and our ‘BeWell’ sessions (featuring speakers including Trevor Noah and Arianna Huffington) that we are now sharing with external audiences to enjoy.
  3. Ensuring all team members are being enabled to help our customers pivot in these uncertain times, with offerings such as

All three platforms relied heavily on the IT team and offered unique challenges, as well as exciting new opportunities, to the technology team.

I’d expect the complexity of the tasks, as well as the combination of challenge and opportunity, to be no different in any other organisation.

IT leaders are now central to employee and customer experience

We’re seeing the role of the IT leader changing day by day. Those changes are not going to stop any time soon. So what are the essentials? Where must IT leaders focus? A helpful framework is the ‘three Rs’.

  1. Reassurance: The IT leader must let the organisation know they have everything under control, that everybody can continue working and that they’ll be ready to move no matter what changes.
  2. Redistribution: As demands change and as different skills are needed in various parts of the organisation, the IT leader must lead the charge by redistributing their own team to ensure business continuity. Success in this venture will come from deep listening in all parts of the business.
  3. Rebound: What direction can the business take to bring itself out of a dark space and into the light? Where are the exciting new opportunities, particularly those that can be scaled through the use of technology? What are the channels the company hasn’t used in the past? If one thing is for sure, it’s that the IT leader will have the attention of the entire leadership team, so they should make the most of it.

Finally, we must lead with empathy and trust. If IT leaders lead their businesses to a better place and ensure stakeholders feel safe and protected along the way – if they offer a parachute at a time that many stakeholders feel they are falling – imagine the bond that will be formed. The IT leader role has never been more important for building trust and providing security.

To learn more about the relationship between technology and employee engagement, download the APAC Employee Engagement Report.

This post originally appeared on the A.U.-version of the Salesforce blog.

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