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The changing face of operational resilience in the current pandemic


"The world will never be the same after Coronavirus…"

I kept hearing this phrase a few weeks ago and had no idea why people were saying it. Why would the world never be the same again? It didn't make any sense to me, surely once this is over it will all go back to the same way it was before, right? Wrong.

Our future work life in a post coronavirus world will undoubtedly bring further changes, but the new normal is here, and likely here to stay for years to come. There will be winners and losers in our changed world. Businesses who enthusiastically embrace these changes early on will be the former. Others who resist, or try to return to past ways, face a difficult, rocky road ahead.

Here are my thoughts on the likely immediate changes to our work life… 

Over the last few weeks I have been on a few very insightful webinars and spoken to dozens of different businesses about IT requirements and strategy, mid-crisis and post-crisis, and think it is safe to say that the way the world works and the way business is done is changing around us at an astonishing rate… and it is changing forever. Perhaps more than any other time in history, companies' operational resilience is being tested to its absolute limits, and the strict compliance requirements many industries have contended with for years showing their true value.

This was underlined to me when I followed up on a conversation with the CTO of a large media house. The original conversation we had was around connecting different global offices using SD-WAN. They had a very disparate technology base following several mergers and acquisitions and they were looking at standardising technology across the business. Fast forward a few weeks and the conversation and requirements had changed drastically. It was now about how successfully the workforce had transitioned from being office based to working from home and so naturally the requirement for physical office space was being called into question. Why pay thousands of pounds per square foot for fancy offices in the centre of major cities when you do not need to? While they will still need some physical presence, the vast majority will now work from home going forward, so the conversation has shifted to remote access solutions. Indeed, James Staley, CEO of Barclays, recently praised his staff for the successful transition to remote working, noting that "the notion of putting 7,000 people in a building may be a thing of the past".

However, for certain industries, putting this into practice presents a number of particular challenges. For example, I am having similar conversations with a number of companies in the finance sector and know of one very major bank which has now told all staff to work from home, which throws up a number of questions about compliance that must be taken into consideration. Considering staff are now working remotely, and are to continue having all their calls recorded for the sake of compliance, how will this be achieved without compromising security?

Taking a more long-term view, organisations are already in the process of strengthening their operational resilience – a process that is even more essential when one considers a potential resurgence of the Coronavirus in the future. The FCA, PRA and Bank of England have already put proposals in place to strengthen the resilience of the financial sector, ensuring its impact tolerance will be sufficient to maintain BAU in the event of another disaster on the scale of our current pandemic. This means that compliance requirements will become even more stringent, and any new tools that are deployed will need to accommodate this, with optimal security and transparency inherent in the design.

Exponential-e are aware of this, and are well-positioned to help, with a complete portfolio of remote access and Unified Communications solutions to help businesses successfully transition to the new world we are living in. In particular, we have many specialist products that enable firms and institutions governed by the FCA to allow their work force to work from home and remain compliant. For example, our Microsoft Teams solution allows financial professionals who need to record their calls to do so with minimal effort, in full compliance with all the applicable regulations and with an effective plan for risk mitigation in place.

The challenges are certainly great, but so are the opportunities, as we move towards treating compliance as a process for maximising organisations' operational resilience, with IT infrastructure designed with these principles in mind at the outset. This will require a shift in perspective, as IT specialists move from suppliers of services to working with trusted partners, ensuring organisations are prepared for anything the future may hold. Based on the conversations I'm having at the time of writing, we're already moving in the right direction.

If you would like to discuss anything we've looked at here, I'd be more than happy to take a look at your business' compliance challenges and how we can start maximising your own operational resilience. Just get in touch!

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