Back in March, research from analyst firm Gartner showed that 12% of organisations believed themselves to be highly prepared for the Coronavirus outbreak. More than twice that number, 26%, believed that the crisis would have little or no impact on their business. Some 56% considered themselves fairly well prepared. Three months on, with the outbreak starting to come under control in certain parts of the world, its full economic impact is still unfolding. But already it is clear than pretty well no business will come away entirely unaffected. The damage felt so far may prove to be the tip of a highly unwelcome iceberg.
Even though the dust is far from settled, the time is right for companies to review and renew their business continuity plans. It is an opportune moment to examine how existing plans coped with the impact of a crisis which in truth nobody saw coming or had fully planned for. It is also appropriate that companies should identify where existing plans did not work, and to identify the root causes of that failure. The next step is then to find ways to build better resilience in the eventuality of future emergencies, making the most of lessons learned, even if the temptation is to wait while the current situation plays out and put off the hard decisions until some future juncture.
In no part of the business is the need to take stock and reassess more pressing than with IT. Anyone looking for conclusions to draw about the continuity of compute resources during the pandemic doesn’t have far to look. There are any number of examples of companies that were early to adopt digital transformation as a central strategic priority and which in consequence have reaped the benefits in terms of resilience. If your organisation was truly cloud-native, automated and software driven before the crisis hit, then there is every chance that you have remained productive throughout. Your employees will have benefitted from secure access to applications, from wherever they are located. Your customers should not have noticed any falling off in your responsiveness.
So what next for those who want to keep their business going through the next phase, as the world slowly emerges from the pandemic? Here are some thoughts:
• Ensure that every customer-facing and transactional part of your operation is digital
• Switch focus to value-led, proactive operations and ensure that these are supported by analytics-led insights
• Starting with critical knowledge workers, see that your workforce is augmented by digital capabilities such as AI and ML
• Look for use cases where AI, ML and advanced data analytics have been proven successes, and emulate those
• Expedite the process of cutting reliance on one supplier of IT solutions or one provider of cloud-based services – you’ll be less vulnerable if the risks faced by applications and data are spread
• Make sure that as many people as possible in the upper reaches of the organisation own the risk so that when the next crisis hits you are not one of those that waits for weeks before reacting
• Set the threshold for executive action early – you get no prizes for waiting to see what your competition does before you act
Matt Shinkman, vice president with the Gartner Risk and Audit practice perhaps says it best: “The best-prepared organizations will manage the disruption caused by the coronavirus far better than their less-prepared peers.”
NetEvents is running a number of Inter@ctive sessions relevant to the topics in this blog: