On Monday 30th March 2020, the Raxio Data Centre General Manager, Mr. James Byaruhanga, authored an opinion piece in the ‘Infrastructure’ section of the New Vision, Uganda’s leading daily. In case you missed it, here is the word for word excerpt as published in the newspaper.
The coronavirus continues to wreak havoc in various industries – not only in Uganda and the region but worldwide. Industries such as tourism, hospitality, logistics, production, technology, sports and entertainment have been hit hard by the pandemic.
As at 00:53 GMT+3 on 25th March 2020, there were 375,498 confirmed cases and 16,362 confirmed deaths across 196 countries, areas or territories, this according to World Health Organisation (WHO). The number of deaths outside China – where it all began – have now surpassed those inside.
Millions are now under lockdown in some parts of Europe, Asia and Africa as the threat of the disease looms worldwide. In all this ‘madness’, some terms on how to contain the virus have come up related to how we work, do business, run operations and generally live life!
- Cancelling or Cutting Down On Non-Essential Travel
- Cancelling or Cutting Down On Non-Essential Business & Meetings
- Working From Home
- Maintain Social Distancing
As it is, as infection rates of Covid-19 increase, the virus has obvious implications for BUSINESS CONTINUITY across the entire economy. For the purposes of this article, I will focus on how COVID-19 presents us a new way of doing things and what organisations can do about this.
- DIGITAL COMMUNICATION SERVICES: As more and more people are required to curtail their movement to limit the further spread of infection, the demand for digital communication services like teleconferencing, e-commerce and remote working will rise sharply. For this to happen, two things are critical: Connectivity (in terms of internet connection) and ease of data transmission and data access. Is there a voice and data / internet package for your staff? A smart phone can be used to tether if fixed internet is not available.
- EVENTS: The latest social distancing warnings presents a new way of hosting events as physical meetings are being ditched for online meetings. Can that training be streamed live to your target audiences? Can that board meeting be hosted on online to limit travel movements and one-on-one engagements?
- CORRECT INFORMATION & FAKE NEWS: The world’s largest tech companies are combining forces by making sure everyone has access to accurate information, stopping misinformation & harmful content, and supporting global health experts, local governments, businesses and communities. Businesses will now have to use this information about the virus and how it affects their customers, partners and most importantly, staff.
- CUSTOMER DATA: In the last few days, companies have been sending out emailers, newsletters, SMSes or even making calls to their staff, clients and partners on how they are dealing with the crisis and what the next steps will be for the business. For your business – do you have accurate customer data – telephone numbers (primary & secondary mobile lines as well as landlines where possible) and emails? This crisis is increasingly showing businesses what they need to have done (with regards to data collection, data storage and data management) and what they need to do now (now that they have the data). For those without updated information, grim times await them.
- CLOUD STORAGE: With people increasingly working remotely, a key issue arises – how will staff access sensitive files, data and information from the company servers? Before this crisis, Cloud Storage looked like a foreign thought. Right now, it is going to be the norm to have primary and secondary data backups. Already, some cloud platforms are providing credit to purchase cloud services in order to ensure business stability.
- REMOTE CORPORATE NETWORKS: Remote working means remote corporate networks must adapt as well. Here comes in Software Defined – Wide Area Networks (SD-WANs) or Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). If you’re a small enterprise that only needs to connect a handful of sites, an Internet-based VPN can make sense. However, where scalability, performance, reliability, and operational agility matter to your organisation, cloud-based SD-WAN wins the day.
- CORPORATE DATA SECURITY: With the changing work styles, there are many new threats to corporate data security by way of data breach. Be it employee information, customer payment info or business strategies, every organisation is worried about the security of their sensitive data. Securing data within the corporate network through data encryption is important; ensure your firm has adopted key security measures to prevent unauthorised access to stored data – as well as the sensitive data in motion that is being accessed by staff working remotely.
In a nutshell, for many large and medium businesses, actions / responses to the coronavirus outbreak will centre around how effective the use of technology can fully support business continuity. For those that had planned for a time like this – well done on advance planning! For those that didn’t, the time to act is now so that your business operations do not collapse during this trying time. All the best!