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Surviving and thriving securely in a post COVID world

June 26, 2020

Sridhar S   

Head of Managed Services

It has been said that “necessity is the mother of invention”. This seems apt in the current context of COVID-19 which has forced organisations around the world to rapidly adapt their business and operating models to achieve new levels of, agility, visibility, productivity, and secure end-customer connectivity. In this blog post, Tata Communications’ Sridhar S, Head of Managed Services, explores how businesses can survive and thrive securely post COVID-19.  

Organisations are now keen to absorb the learnings from this environment which pushed them to the edge to improve operational excellence. Business leaders are thinking about going one step further and remain proactive towards infusing new ways to retool their organisations. Over the last three months, they’ve seen first-hand drastic measures which were not practiced before have helped, optimise costs, and rebuild their operations while maintaining the safety of their employees. What remained common in the last three months and will only increase in the next six will be the rate of digitisation. We foresee the following areas where enterprises will or have already actioned to reinvent themselves in a post COVID environment.

  1. Reimagining customer and ecosystem engagements

Over the past few months, there has been a sea change in the way people work, interact with their co-workers and loved ones, spend leisure time, etc. This has enabled acceptance of non-physical methods of ‘e-meet’ engagements amongst the larger consumer base. Changes in consumer behaviour and demand patterns reveal that organisations have an opportunity to reimagine ways of building new customer relationships by enabling effective digital experiences in their business.

In order to do so, organisations need to quickly compile an inventory of the processes that require in-person interaction, and plan to augment customer outreach methods with more digital tools as soon as possible. Relationship Managers across industries like Banking & Insurance, Automobile, and Retail need to significantly ramp up customer interactions through collaboration tools; Contact Centre employees will be able to deliver superior customer experiences using digital channels effectively; Ecosystem engagements across the Supply Chain and Sales Distribution Networks can also be strengthened further by using digital channels. Adoption of cloud native applications, containers, DevOps will increase to create a seamless application experience for customers as virtual will be the new normal. We will continue to see an evolution in the way we interact with customer support in the coming days.

  1. Embracing the next phase of work from home

In every sense and it’s true for a number of corporates that COVID actually got the wheels of digital transformation going. Now, three months later, while the extent of such adoption may normalise a bit, it is evident that organisations see this as more of an opportunity to be leveraged going forth.

One of the biggest factors driving this change is the resultant cost-savings, both for organisations and their employees.

“While remote workers save on daily commute and other miscellaneous expenses, organisations in turn can save on operational expenses with on-site IT spend, employee workplace support services and real estate costs.”

Increased productivity and time savings is another factor that will influence this change. A study by MoveInSync found Indians spending more than two hours in daily work commute which can be easily recouped by working from home. COVID has helped organisations unearth these benefits of efficiency and productivity while ensuring the safety of employees too. In the next phase we will only see more metrics being added as we continue to develop and fine tune further.

  1. Walking a tight rope

It’s important to note that the fanfare of digitisation does not mean an endless corpus of funds. There will be a renewed focus on working capital management and cost optimisation. For the CIO, this means immediate prioritisation of IT spend with a dual objective of investing and saving. Simultaneously, aggressive recovery of revenue and profits will be the immediate and compulsive focal point of all organisations. One of the ways that CIOs will be able to resolve this paradox will be by shifting their workloads to the cloud.

Business continuity plans will have to be thought through even deeper and wider to accommodate and plan for such unexpected pandemics. (Gartner’s Business Continuity Survey showed that just 12 percent of organisations were highly prepared for the impact of coronavirus). Organisations will need to revise incident response, business continuity, disaster recovery, talent succession, and vendor succession and importantly, stress test them. CIOs should use this opportunity to co-opt business leaders on decision making on the digital transformation front and lead the change management.

  1. What needs protection has now changed

Today with a major workforce working from home, organisations need to be extra cautious as employee’s access corporate network from outside their protected office perimeters and potentially from their own, less secure devices.

One potential method of avoiding some of these security issues is to adopt the zero-trust security model which mandates a ‘never trust, always verify, enforce least privilege’ approach to access IT systems and data.  The zero trust approach network assumes that there are attackers within and outside the network, so no users or devices should be automatically trusted. This approach helps minimise each user’s exposure to sensitive parts of the network helping organisations better support remote work and manage risk.

“By providing employees with timely training and information about policies, companies can significantly reduce risk for their remote workforce.”

In the near term, apart from enforcing granular access permissions for their distributed workforce, organizations can enable anytime, anywhere monitoring of remote workers and their endpoints by leveraging tools and technologies like managed detection and response (MDR) and UEBA.  Lastly, the cloud-based remote desktop solutions will continue to play a critical role to facilitate the secure remote working for employees including amongst others, developers, designers, and researchers. As we progress into the next phase of the new normal, rest assured cybercriminals will also look at new ways to exploit updated procedures and systems.

  1. For many Managed Services will be a preference

As organisations look to optimise their IT costs while ensuring employee security in the new way of working, the need for a collaborative managed services partner is felt more than ever.

“Few organisations will be able to tackle all these challenges and mature their IT programs quickly enough to keep pace with the increased uncertainties.”

Organisations will find that partnering with a chosen managed services provider can provide complementary strengths in building governance, technology adoption, addressing skill gaps and also support their ability to scale as per business needs. In a nutshell, accelerated cloud adoption will help organisations improve their business continuity plan, betterment in application performance, better management of the IT estate and most importantly, contribute to faster time to market in this unprecedented situation.

COVID-19 descended an unexpected manner and we were able to respond, adapt and adjust to the new realities in a short time. The pandemic has made us leverage technology even more and this could result in opening unlimited possibilities as we reimagine businesses of the future. Organisations which have shown such creative leverage and flexibility have emerged stronger, others will now follow suit.

Discover more about how organisations may re-think ‘business as usual’ after the pandemic.