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How To Minimize Coronavirus’ Impact on Businesses?

By Neelesh Kripalani

As the world continues to struggle with the outspread of Novel coronavirus (COVID-19), even businesses with robust continuity plans are struggling to ensure smooth functioning of operations across geographies, let alone be agile in their response. Enterprises across the globe have put their remote or work from home (WFH) plans in place. In such a scenario, it is essential that CIOs focus on building digital workplaces and empower people to utilize digital technologies to work seamlessly and serve their customers better.

CIOs can take the following measures to lessen the impact of the current scenario on their business:

Employees require virtual collaboration channel with secure log-in – Organizations need to leverage digital technologies to build secure platform for employees to work remotely. This includes providing them with in-house communications platforms like email or messaging to CRM and ERP systems with secure sign-in to corporate systems. However, training employees to collaborate and work with others in remote working situation should take precedence. It is essential that employees are trained and equipped to use these collaboration tools to maximize their efficiency.

 Secure access to data – In remote working situations, establishing cyber security across the organization shouldn’t be undermined. It is critical that CIOs introduce strong cyber-security policies along with providing secure corporate network. Needless to say, when any employee is working remotely, they must access corporate network or any software-as-a-service (SaaS) resource via a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN is a piece of software that creates a safe, encrypted “tunnel” from the user network, whether public or private Wi-Fi, across the public internet, and into the organization’s network. Further, CIOs need to review existing security infrastructure and consider endpoint security for devices, identity and access management to enable employees to work safely and securely.

Enhanced interaction with the customers, employees and partners through digital channels – In the isolation time, digital solutions such as workplace collaboration tools, video conferencing and live streaming solutions should be utilized to ensure unhampered customer interactions. This demands for CIOs to make use of new-age technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) based tools to create communication tools that can interact with customers in real-time and address areas like customer support which is heavily dependent on people. Using RPA is also an efficient method to automate critical process with minimum supervision. Organizations must leverage social media channels to connect, integrate and respond to customers. They should also use the latest digital and social media tools to communicate about the virus and tips for employees, customers, partners, vendors etc. to stay safe and protect themselves.

While these measures will positively impact business continuity, CIOs should leverage their experience and wisdom to prioritize the activities which are most critical to business and execute those activities first. In the process, they should ensure that maximum work can be done remotely from the confines of people’s homes (WFH). They should ensure that all employees are safe and do not have to venture out to office or customer’s location unless it is extremely critical, urgent or is an essential service. Robust digital and collaboration tools and seamless connectivity to the organizations system will be vital to enable CIOs to navigate this tough phase successfully.

(The author is Senior Vice President and Head, Center of Excellence (CoE) at Clover Infotech and the views expressed in this article are his own)

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