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Practical Advice to CIOs for Business Continuity in the midst of COVID-19

Ashish Gupta Mar 23, 2020

Business Continuity CRM eCommerce COVID-19 Employee Engagement Experience

Since the outbreak of the Corona virus (COVID-19) in China at the beginning of the year, the Corona virus has currently spread to more than 180 countries, with over 250,000 confirmed cases and a death toll of over 10,000, it has officially been declared a pandemic by WHO. Lockdowns have been declared in several nations causing restrictions on both local and international travel and gatherings. So, as precautionary measures, people worldwide are opting for social distancing and remote working environments.

As an effect of this, some of the challenges that CIO’s of organizations worldwide are facing are as follows:

  • Keeping IT systems running
  • Ensuring security and access for immobilized employees
  • Remote collaboration
  • Tracking performance
  • Monitoring productivity
  • Remote troubleshooting

This is the moment of truth for CIOs as the rest of the business and key stakeholders look up to them to maintain the thin line of balance between ensuring safe access to data for the staff members while continuing operations for customers.

In addition, CIOs need to also continue focusing on leading innovation, monitor disruptive trends and adapt to emerging situations. Following are some of the actions that CIOs should undertake within the organization to keep the lights on -

Devise a Digital Workforce Strategy

To address such exigencies, an effective digital workplace strategy should be established to ensure business continuity without compromise on safety.

Business applications need to be categorized based on their criticality level. The accessibility to these applications is summarized below:

Business Application Criticality

For highly critical applications, some members will need to present in office. For such members, ensure all required provisions and safety precautions are in place.

Team members belonging to the critical bracket, either through role or application, can collaborate using remote access (VPN, remote desktops) to their workstations from hardened devices.

For the not critical segment, collaboration can be conducted through the Internet, across multiple devices.

Implement remote access management tools with security controls and network support

Assuming your digital workforce strategy is in place, the next step would be to procure all the requisite licenses of the VPN tools and integrate with Identity Management (IAM) softwares such as Microsoft Active Directory or LDAP. Further it is essential to manage access control to ensure security is maintained. Deploy end point security management for users using devices remotely such as IPSec Tunnel, Firewalls and DLP Softwares.

You should perform scalability tests of the network configurations and also of the implemented tools to enable seamless communication between teams and support different access methods, locations and bandwidths.

Manage the 3 E’s (Employee Engagement Experience)

As CIOs, it is important to not only look out for the safety of the business’s employees, but also provide them clear directions and maintain transparency. To achieve this, a common communication platform should be provided where verified information and progress of the emerging as well as the business situation can be shared. Such a platform, along with content management tools and helpdesks can be leveraged to encourage them to reach out for any support they might need.

Foster online collaboration with enterprise-grade tools

For a large portion of the workforce such as employees, partners as well as clients, digital channels need to serve as the primary medium of communication and interaction.

Current modes of workplace interactions can be substituted by online options such as virtual meetings, video-conferencing and live-streaming solutions.

Collaboration capabilities of project management, service management and multi-group instant messaging tools should be leveraged for status reporting and issue triaging.

Leverage document-exchange tools available to share files and data between team members securely to support a remote working environment without losing out on accessibility.

Modern SaaS tools’ (eg: ERP,CRM,e-Commerce) collaboration capabilities can be readily leveraged to suit different use-cases and accomplish tasks, making remote access management easier.

Embrace Emerging Technology for Hyper Automation

The current crisis presents an opportunity to enterprises to use emerging technology solutions to automate processes while also empowering employees to focus efforts on more value-led tasks. This is where RPA can help automate and orchestrate current processes to avoid human intervention for mundane and repetitive tasks.

Automation in software release management, remote system management can also be achieved with CI/CD tools. Leveraging the Cloud technology can help enable automated provisioning, auto fail-over, auto scaling and auto healing systems.

AI/ML can be used to harness data to gain key insights and improve business decision making to reduce human dependencies.

This is a challenging time both for businesses as well as CIOs. Hopefully, the above mentioned points can help you in your endeavour to ensure safety & support to everyone associated while balancing business needs and meeting business KRAs.

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e-Zest is a leading digital innovation partner for enterprises and technology companies that utilizes emerging technologies for creating engaging customers experiences. Being a customer-focused and technology-driven company, it always helps clients in crafting holistic business value for their software development efforts. It offers software development and consulting services for cloud computing, enterprise mobility, big data and analytics, user experience and digital commerce.