How CIOs in SE Asia are combating coronavirus through business continuity

As the coronavirus outbreak continues to spread across the world, organisations are closing offices, mandating remote working and reviewing corporate travel policies. In response, CIOs across ASEAN are building out enhanced business continuity plans.

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“This isn’t exactly a scenario we would expect but none the less the BCP and the framework should be able to handle the situation,” he said. “Specific to technology, increased demand for remote access is being worked through and in some cases,  we are discovering some challenges in what can and can’t be done remotely and feeding that back to the BCP team.

“Patience and understanding are key. This is a challenging situation in terms of employee wellbeing and not something we would normally expect from BCP or disaster recovery events. However, my experienced peers will recall SARS so we do have a reference point.”

Responding through tech

As CIO of Singapore-based City Developments Limited (CDL), Ivan Ng advised fellow technology leaders to adopt a “cloud-first” strategy to help boost internal resilience levels.

“While often over-hyped, cloud-based technologies certainly show value in these situations,” he explained. “In our experience, being cloud-first has not only helped alleviate infrastructure complexity but is inherently more agile and faster to scale up. This can be a real value in such scenarios.”

Specific to CDL, Ng said demand for collaborative solutions to enable remote, cross-border work has “certainly increased” since the outbreak.

“Employees are justifiably concerned about travel and are looking at ways to work remotely effectively,” he added. “The key activities are around planning for the capacity and availability of unified communication systems and enabling the capability for staff to collaborate on documents remotely using collaborative platforms.”

The business has also “stepped up” the ability of employees to work remotely by equipping staff with mobile devices, laptops and increased training, backed by the digitising of documents and processes.

“The robustness of IT platforms is usually only fully tested in these ‘black swan’ scenarios, and it is in these scenarios where we, as technology leaders, need to step up to help enable the continued success of the businesses we support,” Ng said.

Even though Amos Group has so far experienced “no significant increase” in demand for remote access connectivity and conferencing software, the Singapore-listed maritime organisation has a tried and test approach to business continuity.

“We do not advocate response with demand but readiness must be in place to prevent sudden paralysis to business continuity,” said Quinny Lei, vice president of Group IT at Amos Group.

Quinny Lei, vice president of Group IT at Amos Group IDG

Quinny Lei, vice president of Group IT at Amos Group

Amos uses Skype for Business, with Lei also acknowledging the need for telephony connectivity to be “well connected with routing to the respective personnel” to ensure constant uptime in performance.

“Amos has long prepared for buffered bandwidth to ensure performance is not compromised,” Lei added. “Most of Amos’ business critical services are managed via the cloud and accessibility will not be compromised.

“Although Amos has a network performance monitoring system, our infrastructure team is scheduled to perform rotation shifts to ensure connectivity and performance will not hit the threshold amid the outbreak.”

In a message of advice to fellow technology executives, Veau of Havas warned CIOs against neglecting security when creating a resilient communications system, especially as panic over coronavirus hits fever pitch.

“You cannot afford to open doors to threats,” he cautioned. “Security is a precise and concise art that may have a strong impact on your systems if not completed correctly.

“Take time to identify and gather information on your systems and actual security requirements. Identify who the real people are that need to rely on core systems and think ahead to make it scalable as your business grows.”

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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