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Home >Industry >Infotech >How COVID-19 crisis redefined IT resilience

As the world is facing an unprecedented global pandemic, businesses and IT teams are facing new challenges they have never faced before. Quickly termed as ‘the new normal’, the situation is posing challenges in the form of mass remote working, delivering higher amount of services with lower workforce strength, however customer needs remain unchanged and business objectives of service providers continue as before. What has changed, is the mode of service delivery and the technologies deployed to perform long-existing tasks.

One of the topmost discussion points have been the dire necessity of growing IT resilience and prolonged business continuity planning. With all staff working remotely, in many cases with insufficient computers, VPN and connectivity, the situation is demanding flexibility and agility that no amount of IT planning could have foreseen.

On one hand, enterprises must cater to new remote working arrangements. And on the other hand, panicked customers are demanding answers to questions that cannot be answered at the moment. All the digital-first mantras that have long been spoken about are now under immense stress and duress, and IT teams are scrambling to look for solutions that can sustain them now and after the peak of the pandemic passes.

IT resilience in the time of corona

A recent survey by services giant EY has found that 41 percent of enterprises are speeding up their plans to implement new digital technologies in preparation for the post-coronavirus economy. Some of these implementations include reassigning workers, pivoting business models and bracing for business as usual.

It’s certain that sooner or later the global lockdowns will end and people will go back to work. But it’s equally likely that the lifts will be gradual and not everyone will be back at work at the same time. So, the situation of remote working may continue indefinitely for some, especially for non-essential staff. As a result, IT deployments and customer behaviour will change, markets will evolve and new business opportunities will appear. Existing forms of consumption, supply and productivity may all change.

IT teams will need to brace for this change. They will have to allocate resources and technologies in novel ways and embrace digital workers and intelligent automation quicker than ever before. The very nature of business continuity planning will change.

Intelligent automation can shape the future

Going forward, we’re likely to see a sharp rise in the inclusion of automation in business continuity plans. As IT resilience becomes a major business driver, intelligent automation will become an affordable solution to keep operations running. It will take over essential business activities so that such events don’t have major impacts on business operations across industries. While manual and repetitive tasks will be easier to replicate, more complicated tasks will call for advanced business continuity planning and AI-based automation and analytics.

While many business owners are still assessing automation, they will soon scale up their bot operations. Resilience, along with agility, will become a key business priority for them. Many customer-facing tasks will get automated. While RPA will cover the basic and simplest operations, cognitive RPA will replace complex decision-making of humans if they are unable to visit the office. This will become a trend in many industries as we will see a switch from labour arbitrage strategies to micro-services, artificial intelligence and RPA to address business resilience challenges.

The evolution of operational resilience

To build stronger operational resilience, business will look to build fail-safes into their organizations to ensure continuity of crucial online services and technology to their customers and employees. This will require implementation and testing of robust crisis and incident management, and disaster recovery plans.

Industries that will turn to automation the most will be supply chains, manufacturing, offshoring and BPO services, e-commerce, banking and insurance. And of course, the healthcare profession. Intelligent automation will reduce manual intervention and hand-offs in many industries, thus cutting disease transmission risks, and reducing the reliance on humans to work face-to-face. Such plans will also enable operations to scale and shrink as and when needed in response to demand.

As intelligent automation leverages AI and machine learning to become more reliable, business and government entities will received the tools to function as usual to minimize the economic impact. Automation can also play a critical role in predicting when such events may occur in the future.

We will all emerge from this period stronger, wiser and more connected as a global society. IT resilience will surely be at the forefront of every strategy, yet it is agility that will ensure competitiveness. And an ability to respond to the unexpected. To achieve this, businesses will have to re-evaluate where they stand on the automation spectrum and determine how to build strength and flexibility.

Over 30% of insurance processes are likely to be automated in the next few years. Robotic process automation (RPA) and intelligent automation plays a critical role in helping your organisation automate manual and repetitive activities, access unstructured data, and quickly deliver error-free results.

(Milan Sheth is executive vice president for IMEA at Automation Anywhere)

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