The New Normal in IT

By Rick Pastore and Gregory Smith
March 21, 2022
Season 3, Episode 11

The Hackett Group Senior Research Director Rick Pastore talks with American Kidney Fund CIO Gregory Smith about his new book “The New Normal in IT: How the Global Pandemic Changed IT Forever”.


Show Notes

To begin, Rick asks Gregory to share his motivation behind writing his most recent book. Initially, he had written about the topic of the pandemic’s impact on companies. His wife recommended he expand on the idea of the article and write a book. As an academic and intellectual, Gregory believes in continual learning and chasing knowledge. He feels it is his obligation to help educate the next generation of IT and business leaders, which is a key reason as to why he wrote the book. In the times of government shutdowns, technology organizations were the real lifeline keeping companies running smoothly. The well-deserved recognition of IT, Gregory explains, had two key long lasting effects. First, is working through the positives and negatives of a corporate remote work environment. Second is the focus on the significantly hostile cyber security environment. Cybersecurity attacks have increased significantly on various industries, combined with the challenge of revenue reductions, remote work environments and company culture changes.

In terms of the future of the workforce, Gregory has observed diverging strategies and opinions taking place. While the old guard CEOs want to go back to normal, the employees want to stay remote. It can be summed into a labor vs. non labor battle and the employees will likely win. The term “work from anywhere”, however, really doesn’t apply when it comes to security.  Technology CIOs as a whole are comfortable with where they are and where they’re going. Gregory predicts KPIs will change to determine if companies are as effective as they can be when working in this new hybrid work environment. Many companies are recognizing the benefits of decreased operational costs as a benefit of the work from home model.

Thanks to the pandemic, the pressure for digital acceleration to drive innovation is now even higher. To sum it up in one single phrase, Gregory states that software rules the world. Now that companies are employing remote workers from all over the world, they will have to adapt to different tools and skill sets to facilitate collaboration. Collaboration software has grown at an exponential rate. Gregory believes that when we are challenged as a society is when we do our best. The pandemic has forced society, corporations, and professionals to ask the harder questions and work together to resolve them. In the future, collaboration suites will be even more effective.

Based on Hackett’s recent survey of 1,000 companies worldwide, the average percentage of technology infrastructure in the cloud is 40%. Prior to the pandemic, there was a good security model in place for the 3 main cloud models: infrastructure, software, and platform. The pandemic revealed an evolution of the digital cloud path starting to take off. The gradual shift for companies moving to the cloud is likely due to the infancy of these cloud models.

Next, Gregory reveals the findings which came as a surprise during his research, including the diverging strategies between senior corporate executives and staff. He also speaks to the backfire of vaccine mandates on supply and demand resources trying to fight the pandemic in the first place. He advises CIOs on how they can lead in today’s ever shifting environment. Most importantly they should remain honest with themselves, their CIOs and employees about the future and plan for disruptions on a variable basis. As the episode ends, he offers advice for new CIOs.


  • 0:58 – Welcome to this episode, hosted by Rick Pastore alongside guest Gregory S. Smith.
  • 3:01 – The inspiration behind Gregory’s new book.
  • 4:21 – The long-lasting impacts of the pandemic on IT.
  • 7:19 – Overall business remote workforce trends.
  • 11:40 – The feelings of CIOs around the effectiveness of a work from anywhere model.
  • 16:00 – Who is really responsible for company culture?
  • 18:04 – The pressure of digital acceleration for innovation and the rise of collaboration software.
  • 24:28 – Why haven’t more organizations moved to the cloud?
  • 29:28 – Unexpected findings in Gregory’s research.
  • 34:50 – How can a CIO lead in this shifting environment?
  • 35:51 – Gregory’s advice for new CIOs.