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Global business continuity planning (BCP) has taken on a scale never before seen in the past 17 years. The last time BCPs were activated on any large scale in the world was during the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic back in 2003.
In the aftermath of the pandemic, the global economic damage sustained was estimated at about US$40bn. That was in a landscape that is very different from today’s highly-connected economy powered by technology.
Yet the technology and digitalisation landscape of today offers some light amidst the COVID-19 crisis, which some say is not even near the halfway point.
Compared to 2003, businesses now rely on much-improved network connectivity, higher levels of automation, and the mandatory data security to operate in a hyperconnected world.
Today, CIOs are scrambling to face the complex challenges of:
  • Facilitating company-wide remote-working (also known as telecommuting)
  • Maintaining sustainable customer service and support
  • Keeping stakeholders connected and reassured
  • Managing unprecedented levels of change in work culture and business priorities
  • Watching over increased security threats from both inside and externally

This list is by no means exhaustive list, and is dependent on the nature and scale of each organisation and its business support network. The numerous priorities are encumbered by global uncertainties, adding up to a complex soup that can be hard to swallow… unless CIOs understand the bigger picture.

Know the big picture

Thankfully, a good amount of digitalisation has already been forced onto the global economy by the advancement of technology and its sheer momentum. This has readied many organisations for sudden existential crises that stretch resources to the limit. 
On the flip side, a large proportion of business are either still stuck with legacy technology, or still resting on their laurels, or somewhere in-between. 
Digital transformation, as we call it, has been more like digital preservation.
With or without a tech-driven BCP, both categories of businesses are now in the uncomfortable situation of having to relook their IT strategy.
The first category (those who have already successfully transformed) will simply need to strengthen certain aspects and re-engineer workflows to facilitate the aforementioned challenges.
For the remaining groups, the time for contingency transformation is NOW.
The good news is that, today’s technologies are cloud-driven and automated, making them easier to implement than ever before.
What CIOs can do when focusing on the priorities is to make them sustainable, in which case the overall plan has to fit the three tenets of the ‘Big Picture’:
  1. Robust network
    This vital backbone ensures that the system remains interconnected with partners, service providers, customers and applications through multiple redundancies across the enterprise network.
    What’s needed: A software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) architecture linked to a best-in-class carrier-grade global network fabric of data centres, public clouds, internet exchanges and network.
  2. Pervasive automation
    Even in a crisis, the system ensures that both internal users and customers can continue to access critical services even as the demand increases.Software-defined networking (SDN) platform makes it easy for on-demand provisioning of network services and network management to facilitate any sudden spikes.
    What’s needed: Flexible and scalable global connectivity powered by a self-service on-demand SDN or Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) platform.
  3. End-to-End Security
    From every point in the local, WAN and external connections, including remote access, security is built in. Incorporating overlay technology (SD-WAN) for greater control and easier management of network access and network security policies.
    What’s needed: Single portal to enable secure and high-performance access to any enterprise resources from cloud-based applications to storage.

Effective communication and collaboration are vital lifelines for any business, and these three overarching tenets form a firm foundation during normal operations as well as crises.

The pro tip is to choose the right connectivity partner to achieve the big picture.

In the event that a BCP comes into force, a company that sees this big picture will have everything in place to keep its IT management and operations intact enough to weather the storm.

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