From provisioning laptops for remote working to procuring adequate VPN licenses and maintaining service levels, companies across industries have faced myriad challenges while ensuring business continuity during the pandemic. The crisis has highlighted operational and technological gaps in existing business continuity plans. When the pandemic began, Gartner conducted a survey of 1,500 respondents and found that only 12 percent believed their businesses to be highly prepared for the impact of the coronavirus. This highlights how the approach to risk management and business continuity planning, especially when it concerns emerging risks, needs a makeover to enable business resilience.
As global lockdowns are lifted and enterprises prepare to adjust to the ‘next normal,’ it is essential that CXOs adopt a prudent roadmap toward building a safe and productive work environment for their employees and ensuring superior business continuity if a similar crisis strikes in the near future. In a recent poll of 100 CIOs, 44 percent said their executive teams believed business would return to normal within 12 months. For that to materialize and for the ‘normal’ to sustain, preparedness would be critical.
In this blog post, we discuss five strategies that can help shape executive action to drive effective response to the pandemic and other business continuity risks:
- Creating a robust remote working environment: Design and deliver targeted and continuous reskilling programs for an enhanced employee experience with new ways of working, such as the now prominent mode of remote working. According to Nemertes Research, 91 percent of companies now support working from home, up from 63 percent prior to the coronavirus outbreak. With remote working here to stay infor the foreseeable future, employers need to equip their workforce with the skills and tools necessary for driving productivity to achieve significant business outcomes and customer experiences. From communication to collaboration and adaptability, employees need to be empowered to achieve their professional goals while realizing their KRAs and delivering an exceptional customer experience.
- Driving business outcomes in a gig economy: Talent management is about to be transformed with remote working being accepted as the ‘next normal.’ Executives are looking to onboard technology-savvy talent with the right set of skills and not feel restricted by geography. Not only does that emphasize newfound access to talent, it presents a sustainable way for companies to scale their workforce up and down based on the workload and skills required to deliver products and services. However, to benefit from this agile talent model, CIOs will have to adapt their IT infrastructure to allow for remote access and virtual collaboration, deploy new-age HR systems that facilitate rapid onboarding and offboarding, and invest in implementing robust cybersecurity controls. Digital enablement is a prerequisite for leveraging gig workers, which is apparent from the recent growth of the gig economy. According to PYMNTS, 68 percent of all gig workers joined this economy in the past five years.
- Ensuring resilience with overhauled business continuity plans: Adopt future-proof, flexible, and continuously evolving BCP to prevent customer dissatisfaction and further business interruptions during a future crisis. The last pandemic that shocked the global business environment was the H1N1 virus, and even after ten years, business continuity plans are yet to evolve to avert a similar crisis. To make matters worse, managing business continuity and pandemic plans have become highly complex with global enterprises having employees and customers in multiple geographies. Going forward, companies should develop all-encompassing pandemic preparedness plans with critical processes, roles, and supporting tools that can be activated as the pandemic unfolds.
- Adopting sensors and IoT in the physical workspace: Promote widespread use of sensor technology and a centralized dashboard to identify symptomatic patients, detect PPE non-compliance, manage occupancy and employee density, and more. From wearables to track employee health and analyze CCTV video feeds in real time to ensure people are wearing face covers, IoT in workspacesplace has augmented pandemic risk management in a more effective and streamlined manner. Recently, PIMMAP and T-Mobile announced an infrared contactless temperature sensor that can scan up to 40 employees per minute for coronavirus symptoms such as fever, watery eyes, and fatigue.
- Accelerating digital transformation initiatives to enhance employee experience: Deploy user-friendly collaboration tools, bolster cyber security posture, and empower the remote worker with the right digital tools. There is a consensus that the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated digital transformation timelines to 6-12 months from the usual five-year roadmap. With social distancing in daily lives touted to be the ‘next normal,’ connectivity will be a key highlight in most digital transformation roadmaps. CXOs need to focus on modernizing the core to enable remote access to business-critical applications while ensuring superior data security, build a digital and virtual workplace, and adopt a cloud-first approach. By switching to a cloud-based operating model, implementing AI-driven cybersecurity monitoring solution, and automating repetitive manual front and back-office business processes, CXOs can empower a future-ready workforce to tackle black swan events better.
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated digital transformation timelines to 6-12 months from the usual 5-year roadmap
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