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Sainsbury’s CIO Phil Jordan says Covid-19 is an opportunity to “pull future forward”

Sainsbury’s CIO Phil Jordan believes that the opportunity for organisations to “pull the future forwards and redefine business as tech-driven” is a “small positive in a very negative situation in the world”.

The group chief information officer, who sits on the retailer’s operating board and is also a non-executive director at TalkTalk, was speaking to NS Media Group technology editor Edward Qualtrough at the Virtual CIO Symposium – a gathering for tech and business leaders by NS Tech, CBR and the New Statesman.

Discussing the organisation’s data-centric digital transformation, Jordan said that CIOs and technology had a key role to play in helping their organisations rethink how they operated when Covid-19 restrictions are relaxed.

“I think that any business that views tech as just a system of record is going out of business or will probably soon go out of business​,” Jordan said.

“Tech being an enabler, and a differentiator and data particularly being a differentiator – puts all of us in technology in a fantastic position as real change leaders.​

“I think a CIO should be the person in the business that has change leadership responsibility because it’s such an enabler and a differentiator that if you’re the CIO in your business and not the one who’s really leading the call for change, I suspect you’re not using tech in the right way​.”

Jordan added that he hoped business and society did not rush to revert to the status quo.

“Coming out of Covid, I think there are so many aspects of the future that will get pulled forward: flexible working, aspects of business and operating models that when you switch them off they actually don’t make a big impact,” he said.

“It’s a very small positive in a very negative situation that’s going on in the world. But I think it’s a massive opportunity to redefine businesses – and particularly as tech-driven.​

“We’re going to come out of the back of this and hopefully we don’t all go back to normal. I really hope we can rethink based on everything we’ve learned.​

“As a board in Sainsbury’s we are trying to pull that future forwards. And if you are a technology leader that should be music to your ears.​”

You can view the full interview with Sainsbury’s CIO Phil Jordan on-demand at the Virtual CIO Symposium portal.