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3 CTO Tips to Effectively Use Your Seat at the Table During COVID-19

By Olivia Munro | Wednesday, April 15th, 2020

We're operating in unique times due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. Many of us are adapting to the new extended remote work model, and most are facing new challenges both personally and professionally. One challenge for some CTOs and technology leaders is communicating the importance of IT and cybersecurity and its role in the overarching business.

While those in IT understand the importance of their department, that's not always the case for non-technical members of the management team or the organization as a whole. IT and cybersecurity are critical to run any organization behind the scenes, and at the end of the day, the financial and reputational risk of underestimating the importance of IT is significant. 

Here are three tips for communicating the importance of IT and cybersecurity internally:

1.) Get and use your seat at the table.

First things first, IT professionals have to get a seat at the table with upper management to properly demonstrate the importance of IT and a robust cybersecurity program. Forming relationships and building rapport and chemistry with upper management is the first step to getting organizational buy-in.

Technical personnel looking to communicate with upper management should know their audience. If the group isn't technologically inclined, instead of "tech talk" or "geek speak", use non-technical verbiage and communicate in a way that they can understand. Do your research and understand how the business runs and what tools and technologies are really needed from the operational side. Demonstrating operational knowledge can help build the relationship and give you credibility.  Think of the long term development in IT, but create a digestible roadmap with steps and resources necessary to get there. And of course, understand and display the ROI of any investments. 

2.) Emphasize the changing nature of work.

The current situation with COVID-19 is changing the way we work, with more employees working remotely than ever before. Companies have had to shift to supporting a remote workforce, and home offices and laptops are creating new challenges for IT teams. Hacking attempts, specifically COVID-19 related phishing attempts, have been on the rise leaving organizations exposed. Effectively employees across all departments and all levels of a company can be challenging, but it's a strategic business move to prevent financial and reputational risk.

(Tip: Phishing training via a simulated phishing attack is one way to train employees, as a company is only as strong as its weakest link. For guidance on phishing training, you can read our recent article.) Adapting to the current environment and demonstrating knowledge of the environment to upper management goes a long way.

Even after companies eventually transition back into the office, remote work for some will likely be here to stay and IT has a integral part in a seamless transition. 

3.) Continuous communication is key.

Like any department, every day is (hopefully!) full of small wins, completed projects, and innovative ideas to help the company be more efficient and successful. For IT specifically, so much of this is behind the scenes. CTOs and IT leaders have to communicate the success of the department to the management team and to the company. While operations may be running smoothly on the front-end, it's often because a team is running patches, maintaining software, and supporting users' on the back end.

At the end of the day, the IT team is a strategic partner of every organization, and is even more crucial with the sudden increase in remote work and targeted cybersecurity attacks. To stay up-to-date on Eze Castle's newest COVID-19 articles, you can subscribe to our newsletter here.

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