Few things tend to drive innovation as quickly as crisis response. When faced with instantaneous decision-making, teams will often forego traditional business-based bureaucracy to adapt on the fly, often leading to unintentional innovation adoption.
Such appears the case for many organizations around the globe in light of the coronavirus pandemic this year.
As stay-at-home and social distancing mandates affected organizations large and small, many found themselves forced to rapidly adopt a long pushed-off acceptance of remote work for entire workforces.
No longer for just individuals or limited departments, remote work may very well be the biggest business transition for successful organizations in 2020.
According to one recent study from LogicMonitor, during the first half of 2020, more than half of IT leaders said they had IT disruptions or outages with existing software, productivity, or collaboration tools shifting to remote work teams.
That push created a lot of challenges, especially for business continuity professionals who have been front-and-center leading organizational response.
But there may also be a bright side. More organizational leadership teams are understanding the true value (and need) for business continuity, so much-needed investments are on the way, from people to tools and beyond.
When we step back a year from now and recap on our pandemic response, will more clearly see the role COVID-19 had on business innovation, especially related to adoption of more cloud-based technologies? One such study already leans toward yes. Let’s take a closer look.
Earlier this year, LogicMonitor surveyed more than 500 IT decision-makers from North America, the UK, Australia and New Zealand, and discovered that 91% of respondents are working remotely with almost 80% using completely remote workforces.
But that move to remote work created a number of challenges. For example, the report reveals that during the first half of 2020—as teams made the sudden switch to work-from-home—about 54% had disruptions that affected existing software, productivity, or collaboration tools.
And those disruptions represented just some of the many challenges these professionals (70%) endured, including concerns about:
- Network strain
That’s not to say that companies who already used remote teams didn’t face similar issues, but for the most part, many were prepared to deal with these challenges before the pandemic hit.
“Part of our culture has always been, ‘work anywhere, anytime,’” Tyler Orabone, Assurance and Avalution technology leader, explained. “So we’ve been prepared for a situation like this for a while. Every employee is given a laptop from day one and we pay for our employees to have mobile hotspot capabilities. We even have random mandatory work-from-home days to make sure everyone is prepared at a moment’s notice. All of these things mean we have a very mobile-ready workforce.”
The Cloud Connection
But what about companies that weren’t already remote-ready? Some may have been a bit more prepared than they might have anticipated. Why? Because of the increasing use of cloud-based technology solutions across most industries.
“Given the fact that many of our critical systems are in the cloud, even when we are in the office, we’re accessing systems ‘remotely,’ so none of that really changes with everyone working remotely,” Gary Cohen, Assurance’s vice president of product development, said.
That’s a trend reflected in recent studies about cloud migration.
According to one report, during the first quarter of 2020, almost 90% of enterprise respondents said they had deployed hybrid cloud solutions for their organizations. While adoption has been slower for small and medium sized businesses (SMBs), at least 35% indicated in early 2019 that they had deployed hybrid cloud solutions.
The LogicMonitor survey found that before the pandemic, about 65% of respondents had workloads in the cloud. Within six months, that number increased to almost 80%.
And it’s a trend that IT professionals think will likely continue. Those surveyed indicated that within the next five years (or less) about 74% of all workloads will be in a cloud environment.
“I do think that companies that require system users to be located within the office had to adjust to everyone not working in the office,” Gary explained. “That is certainly accentuating a big advantage of having cloud-based systems, so it is no surprise that many companies who have not yet moved systems to the cloud have begun to investigate this.”
And it’s not just about the benefits of accessibility from a cloud perspective. Scalability plays a role here, too.
“While we normally have a certain number of people working remotely, now we have everyone working remotely, so the scale is a bit different,” Gary said. “I’m sure many companies had to add more bandwidth capacity to their VPNs and their remote connections, especially if they were previously only considering a small amount of remote users.”
Business Continuity in the Cloud
So what does this trend toward cloud migration—especially during a global crisis—mean for business continuity professionals? For many, it could be the difference between rapid response and ruin.
During the pandemic, not only were back-office teams sent home to work, but so were the business continuity teams pushed front-and-center for pandemic response. It is a new world for an “all-hands-on-deck” response in remote environments.
“Just like any other group, we are missing out on the casual or random interactions around the office and therefore have some gaps in our communications and awareness of everything going on throughout the company,” Gary added. “Things that you used to overhear in the hallway just simply aren’t happening now, no matter how many Zoom meetings we conduct.”
The LogicMonitor study indicated that some 86% of respondents said their organizations had a business continuity plan in place before COVID-19. But how many of those plans were actionable from a remote perspective?
Unfortunately, far too many teams still use ineffective print-and-store-on-a-shelf business continuity plans.
- If you can’t get into the office, and your only response protocols are tucked away in a binder, how do you access them?
- How do you share action items and tasks with your remote teams?
- How do you track progress?
- If your plans require management sign-offs or approvals before your team can tackle certain components of your response protocols, what do you do when you’re not face-to-face to facilitate those?
Cloud-based business continuity solutions, especially those with mobile functions (and off-line access capabilities) can ensure those issues are no longer cause for further disruption.
With a cloud-based solution, you can have confidence that all of your business continuity management program components are accessible—from plans to people—wherever you are. It’s that “work anywhere, anytime” approach put into action.
If you’re seeing the advantages of moving your business continuity program to the cloud and/or a mobile-accessible solution and have questions, don’t hesitate to connect with an Assurance advisor. You can even see our solutions in action to get a better understanding of how it can improve your response and planning, both on-site and using remote teams.
Written by Assurance Software
Assurance Software takes your company’s enterprise-wide business continuity and resiliency program to the next level. With Assurance as your go-to partner for continuity and resilience, you can confidently mitigate risk, manage recovery, and safeguard your employees, customers, operations and brands.