There has been a complete shift to a new way of life in Jamaica. “Home-school”, “work-from-home” and “online shopping” are no longer niched activities reserved for special market segments here on the rock, but are fast becoming commonplace for all sectors. To top it off, people can’t even recess to the usual haunts either, whether for vice or virtue, because bars and churches are closed – not even our cultural dichotomies are spared the wrath of the COVID-19 Coronavirus.
According to Collin Burgess, IT Infrastructure Manager, MC Systems, the good news is that IT Infrastructure is the solution that’s keeping everything – business, school, government – going when other things – parties, sporting events, gyms – have to stop.
“We may not readily see Microsoft Teams, Zoom, delivery apps or even Google Classroom as “IT Infrastructure”, but it is,” he pointed out. The schools and other businesses will use these cloud services for classrooms and videoconferences. Other entities, such as banks will use more complex solutions; both on premises and in the cloud, to ensure all its systems are available while maintaining confidentiality and integrity of customer’s information. The bank’s IT Infrastructure will allow people to do online payments, use an ATM or a point of sale machine in a store and access internet banking.
The use of these solutions are also an indication that, no matter the size or the nature of business, every company can use some IT Infrastructure solutions in its operations. Having the kind of infrastructure that keeps the business running in a time of crisis (enter COVID-19) is about business continuity planning.
US-based business continuity consulting firm, MHA Consulting tells us that “business continuity is the advance planning and preparation undertaken to ensure that an organization will have the capability to operate its critical business functions during emergency events.”
Most businesses are usually prepared for the common threats such as, natural disasters, hardware/software failure, malware attack, data breaches, ransomware, unplanned IT and telecom outages, supply chain disruption, availability of key skills, and cyber attacks. However, since the COVID-19 outbreak, some businesses and institutions are forced to quickly leverage new policies, technologies and empower their people to work from home.
‘Mobile work’ the new normal
Many business continuity experts, and others are suggesting that life as we know it has changed forever because of the impact of “social distancing”, which has regulated, and legislated, the remote-work policy that organisations have had to implement.
“Remote work also involves ‘mobile work’, which is likely to be the new normal of work after COVID,” Burgess posits. “So an organisation that might have had desktop computers for their staff may want to consider getting laptops instead; this way it is easier for people to work at the office or from home without skipping a beat,” he added.
Naturally, in this ‘mobile operation’ dispensation secure access would have to be well designed. A virtual private network (VPN) is one such security measure a company could implement. A VPN, which has encryption as a common feature and allows connection to a the corporate network in a private tunnel, by going safely over a public network. It has been a popular solution for many organisations, for years, to allow remote users and branch networks to access to the networks back at head office. VPNs allow applications running on end devices such as laptops, tablets and mobile phones to benefit from the functionality, security and management of the private network.
“The most important thing is to ensure that there is security protection at every stage of the infrastructure, end-to-end. So the server and relevant applications, hardware, software, operating systems, data bases, through to the remote access points; everything must have a discrete layer of security to ensure the whole thing is protected”, Burgess cautioned.
Of course the ideal infrastructure is complete with the fit-for-purpose back-up and recovery solutions that safeguard a business’ ability to manage its data and get things up and running quickly in the event of a disruption.
The future of work will see these technologies being implemented in every type and size business; further enabling work anytime and anywhere.
Burgess offers a way forward:
“What is key for business leaders now is to start documenting what is happening so that they can begin to make well-informed plans about the IT infrastructure they will need to run their business in the post-Covid new world of work.
“As they document they should watch for patterns that give them insights to respond to the questions below.
- How IT is impacting the most critical functions of the business?
- Does the organisation need a complete Cloud, on-premise of hybrid solution for optimal performance in the new ways of working?
- What kind of vulnerabilities/security risks do they need to plan for – data, network, application, and storage?
- What kind of skills will teams need to operate in this new way?
- Would a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy work better for the business going forward?
- What tools and tech can be used to monitor staff attendance and keep productivity up in the new dispensation?
- Are there any variables emerging for which there should be new policies written?
Along with this assessment a company should also think about getting outside help. Contracting the services of an IT outfit to provide assistance could prove useful in this time. Such an entity could, for example, offer an IT audit, which would be very invaluable to the decision making process and the infrastructure in which the company will make an investment.
MC Systems is here with you as your support technology partner. Let’s start the conversation. Contact us email@example.com | 876 552-8124 | 876 564-2231