by Eric Knorr

Navigating the pandemic

Mar 19, 2020
Collaboration SoftwareIT LeadershipSmall and Medium Business

Nearly every technology company — and almost every business — is desperately determining how to use its arsenal of technology to combat the increasingly severe disruption caused by coronavirus.

IDG Special Report: Navigating the Pandemic [COVID-19 coronavirus]
Credit: ChakisAtelier / Robertiez / Getty Images

In an industry obsessed with disruption, suddenly, everything has been turned on its head.

Reimagining processes and software and infrastructure to satisfy some McKinsey-driven mandate has screeched to a halt. Instead, nearly every tech company — and almost every business — is desperately determining how to use its arsenal of technology to combat the stunningly severe disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Stuck in our home offices, IDG tech journalists are doing the same thing most of the rest of the developed world is doing: teleconferencing, leaning into our collaboration tools, furiously tapping our smartphones, and firing up videoconferencing software like never before. Everyone seems to have realized simultaneously that these communication tools are now our lifelines. The new normal is arriving quicker than anyone could have imagined.

On a personal level, social networking has become indispensable, as we keep track of friends and loved ones, share recommendations, trade anecdotes, and identify people in need. At the same time, we’re seeing the inevitable rise of disinformation, scams, and phishing attacks. Already, the world has witnessed the destructive power of bad information wreak havoc.

IDG’s five enterprise brands — CIO, Computerworld, CSO, InfoWorld, and Network World — are committed to providing technology and business professionals with actionable, accurate content in this time of need. This IDG Special Report is the first in a series dedicated to delivering guidance and support. We hope these stories assist you and your colleagues, partners, and customers as we face extraordinary challenges together.

Battling business disruption with technology

CIO Senior Writer Clint Boulton has it right: If there was ever a time to tighten your business continuity plan, this is it. His “Business continuity: Coronavirus crisis puts CIOs’ plans to the test” explores the extensive prep of two forward-looking companies, AvidXchange and Snow Software, both of which have wedded mature work-from-home policies and procedures to business continuity. That planning is paying off in real-time as these companies confront COVID-19. If your time is limited, jump to the conclusion for some quick advice on communications and risk management.

Wondering how the massive shift to work-from-home affects remote-access networks? Network World’s Michael Cooney dives deep into that topic in “Coronavirus challenges remote networking.” He zeroes in on a crucial bottleneck: the enterprise VPN. One issue is simply capacity; VPN gateways may simply not be able to accommodate so many users connecting at once. A different problem is the security and reliability of residential internet-access services and home networking environments. The good news is that, so far, ISPs have not seen a rise in performance problems, although chokepoints at cloud service providers may emerge soon.

In our new work-from-home reality, security quickly becomes top of mind. “A security guide for pandemic planning: 7 key steps” by CSO Contributing Writer Bob Violino addresses the vital points to consider. Ponder the sober advice offered by Nitin Natarajan, principal at a domestic preparedness advisory firm: “Assess risks and vulnerabilities to physical and cyber systems from a reduction in staff, both internally and among key organizational interdependences.” And, above all, ensure your response to the pandemic is coordinated among all groups involved: cybersecurity pros, emergency management staff, and risk communications teams.

Several useful articles serve those working at home. Barbara Krasnoff’s “10 tips to set up your home office for videoconferencing” provides great pointers for those of us less accustomed to being in front of the camera (I still haven’t gotten the lighting right). Computerworld contributor Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, who has managed to avoid working in an office for the past 30 years, brings us “How to survive and thrive while working from home.” And finally, in “WTH? OSS knows how to WFH IRL,” InfoWorld contributor Matt Asay reminds us that open source developers, led by legions of contributors to the Linux kernel, successfully pioneered remote collaboration long before anyone else. We can learn from their exeperience.

The way we work and interact with each other is about to change forever.