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CIOs are taking these top two technology initiatives to learn to live with COVID-19

Enabling the business process change supported with the right technologies and reworking the BCP/DR is on top of the mind for CIOs

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The first phase of enabling employees to work from home is over. In terms of enabling secured access, making the collaboration and conferencing tools available. The focus now has moved towards further orienting the technology landscape to work in sync with the change in the work culture, read scaling up the work from home culture and virtual interaction between customers and companies. The work culture is undergoing change.

The availability of excellent collaboration tools and connectivity provides the users the opportunity to schedule their work in a much smarter and efficient way, combining the advantages of being in office (collaborating with other colleagues, discussing details) with the opportunity to do focussed and uninterrupted work by ‘turning off’ disturbances in a way currently not supported in an office environment. “Saving commute time and being able to take breaks when required are also big positives for users and allow for more focussed work when people are actually working. Work culture is likely to move towards self-directed teams and outcome-based measurements as opposed to time-in-office and activity-based measurements,” says Vinod Sivarama Krishnan, Chief Information Officer, Indus Towers.

Employees adopting BYOD will minimize capital expenditure of many organisations and it will add more flexibility in working hours. Simultaneously organizations will be forced to strengthen their IT Security and move completely into end-to-end Digitization. COVID-19 is really instrumental now for forceful adoption of Digital work culture. “We at Shriram General Insurance (SGI) will also adopt this new normal in totality,” states Malaya kanta Barik, General Manager, (IT) & CISO, Shriram General Insurance.

Further strengthening of BCP / DR and backups
Now, the focus is on further reviewing of the business continuity planning. “The pandemic conditions werent considered under the current BCP model. It was designed more for scenarios like earthquake, fire, etc. Mahindra Finance is reworking on the BCP to suit it to the pandemic environment,” informs Gururaj Rao, CIO, Mahindra Finance. 

Secondly, the business processes are getting revamped, moving from face to face interactions towards becoming digital. “Earlier, right from customer onboarding to customer servicing, physical interaction between the customers and the company was predominant. Now, the focus will be on video based interactions and contact centre communication,” says Rao. Mahindra Finance is putting the necessary technology tools in place to support these processes.     

Overall, the budgets will be under pressure because the business is also under distress. “It is the duty of IT to contribute to the cost consciousness,” says Rao. CIOs will have to do more with less by finding ways to squeeze costs. They will also have to find ways to get the best out of the existing investments.

Indus Towers, India’s largest telecom tower installation company, which will soon merge with Bharti Infratel is also in the process of taking significant capacity building steps, to support the new work culture.

The initiatives being taken now have a strong focus on user experience, security and data controllership. “The process is underway for the identification and implementation of a VDI platform to support the company’s extended ecosystem of partners and associates to be able to work from home securely and without interruption or loss of data,” informs Vinod Sivarama Krishnan, Chief Information Officer, Indus Towers. The equipment and connectivity at key management personnel’s home offices is also being upgraded to ensure a better and more consistent user experience for them during work from home. Indus towers have a sizeable part of their application landscape on Cloud already.

A PoC is under way for a Unified Network Monitoring System to be able to better identify and proactively address user issues since the underlying load patterns have shifted considerably with work from home. A complete visibility of load in real time is a key determinant to driving performance and stability. “We are substantially revamping our Backup Technology infrastructure to eliminate legacy infrastructure and processes and permit remote backups and restores with significantly lower recovery time for critical data,” says Krishnan. This is to avoid any dependency on people or location completely. POCs in this are successfully completed and we’re awaiting the end of the lockdown to implement these solutions.

Shriram General Insurance has identified a few gaps, which the company intends to arrest post COVID-19. IT infrastructure plays an important role in business continuity of any organisation. “Although we have maintained our Business Continuity on DC/DR in its entirety, the same thing cannot be achieved fully at the end user level. Our maximum prerogative now is to transform business completely from the traditional approach to a digital only business. We have almost achieved the same on sourcing of business before the the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic but the end-to-end digitalization of all the business processes is yet to achieved,” SGI is certainly moving to a customer-centric, end-to-end Mobile platform from sourcing of business to Claim settlement. We are also bringing in BYOD (Bring in Your Own Device) concept into our organisation,” informs Malaya kanta Barik, General Manager, (IT) & CISO, Shriram General Insurance.

The focus will also be on automating the processes to alleviate manual processes. The field force including intermediaries will be technologically empowered post COVID-19.

The adoption of Cloud is still under consideration. “We are exploring now to move a few non-critical applications in the near future. Apart from this we are working on Data/Cyber Security to strengthen our Digital platform. We have done recent PoCs on Mobile Device Management solutions,” concludes Barik.

If you have an interesting article / experience / case study to share, please get in touch with us at [email protected]


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