COVID-19 is already rewriting the future of business and setting new challenges for CIOs. We have woken to a new reality, a reality that has turned our daily routines and life structure upside down, and it calls for new measures. Is your business prepared to handle the new way of working? Have you identified the risks that can threaten the execution of your business processes?
The coronavirus impacts all industries, sectors, stakeholders and the communities at large – it’s something that we’ve never seen before. In order to maintain their day-to-day critical business functions, organizations are starting to deploy their Business Continuity Plans. Employees are asked to work remotely, events have been postponed or cancelled and meetings are conducted virtually.
IT organizations face the challenge of ensuring that business can operate remotely – to help in that we have outlined 7 key areas which all CIOs should evaluate in these uncertain times:
- Manage the increased demand for remote working
The recent spike in remote working places pressure on how to supply employees with the necessary equipment and remote access to your business networks.
Assess your supply chains on hardware assets, ensuring employees have laptops, smartphones and tablets so they can work remotely.
Communicate your new procedures on how employees can report equipment problems in your ITSM-solution and how your sub-contractors or IT support can assist them remotely, thus minimizing their work down-time.
- Make sure that the systems supporting business-critical functions are fully operating
Coordinate daily with business leaders on business-critical operations. Identify the key capabilities required to sustain system operations and if there are immediate capability, process or technology gaps requiring attention.
Evaluate if mission-critical tasks that were previously performed on-site manually can be handled remotely, or if a temporary digital workaround is possible.
- Ensure remote network access to critical systems
Evaluate your administration-rights structure: do the employees have the necessary access rights to work from home? In addition, assess if your VPN network is equipped to handle the sudden increase in employees accessing business applications remotely.
Identify your key dependencies on people granting access rights to critical business operating systems and ensure the risk-dependency is addressed.
- Evaluate employee needs
Assess the current security infrastructure and determine what safe working will require. Consider the hardware staff will use (company or personal laptops), and the networks they will be on (public or private).
- Assess cyber-security threats
Due to the unexpectedly high demand for remote access, the IT security wall is more vulnerable given the increased number of external access demands. Therefore, CIOs need to communicate clearly and frequently their IT policies on how to access internal systems remotely in order to reduce the risk of cyber-attacks.
With the increased exposure to external cyber-attacks, CIOs need to collaborate closely with the CISO, ensuring any potential vulnerabilities in cybersecurity are identified and acted on immediately.
- Are your platforms scalable?
Employees are now turning to online platforms like Teams to hosts meetings and workshops, which has not gone unnoticed at Microsoft. Major increase in Teams user volumes has caused problems with the virtual communication platform.
Evaluate if your business-critical applications are scalable and can support the spike in usage. Also, make sure you have enough licenses to support a full workforce working remotely.
- Enough hardware and bandwidth?
Can your infrastructure and applications handle the increase of users and volume of communications? It’s important to assess if there is a need to draw up short-term and flexible contracts with vendors to handle the increased short-term surge.
Looking forward and preparing for tomorrow
Even though the world is currently battling extraordinary circumstances, the situation does provide CIOs an opportunity to test the risk tolerance of their technology infrastructure. In addition, CIOs can identify any potential flaws in their current business continuity plan and IT operations, that need to be addressed or require a digitalized solution going forward.
The current situation only highlights the importance of CIOs participating in developing the businesses continuity of operation plans. Therefore, ensure you capture the key learnings of this experience and anchor them internally to further strengthen your IT readiness in the future.
Want to continue the discussion with one of our experts? We continuously support CIOs on how to tackle present challenges – go ahead and contact us!