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Business Continuity Through Digital Workspaces

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Protecting Your Business from Disruption

With the threatened pandemic related to the COVID-19 virus, the global economy is in uncharted territory, according to the Director General of the World Health Organization, given the speed of which the virus is spreading. The introduction of this novel virus will not be a one-off occurrence based on recent history (SARS, MERS, etc.). As much as we, as a global community, place our faith in modern medicine, our healthcare systems have their constraints. They are been pitted against fast moving illnesses that require quick responses from health authorities, governments and the economic engines of the world…. your business included.

Through a career as a project manager, risk management and business continuity plans are in the forefront when undertaking projects and organizational change. Although pandemics are possible, they have been considered outliers and rarely make it into risk logs or considered a driver for business continuity plans. With the onset of COVID-19, all that has changed. We are now dealing with a global event, one that has seriously strained health organizations, layering hardships and significant economic impacts upon world populations, and spurred governments to action. Unprepared businesses with neither a cohesive, all-encompassing business continuity plan nor a robust, adaptable IT infrastructure will face challenges within the corporate walls, customer commitments, with hits to their revenue base, not to mention their reputation.

Even the best-laid corporate plans can easily be derailed by government edicts (travel restriction, quarantines, etc.). The COVID-19 type of health event makes it difficult to predict how severe the impacts will be and to whom. How do corporations guard themselves against such constraints so that they can continue to provide mission critical operations while being socially responsible to employees and the community at large?

Without seeming to hit the panic button, and in the interest of non-scare tactics, the following post focuses on preparation – a proactive approach, not a reactive response. The foundation and measure of how well businesses ride out severe disruptions is tied to the detailed efforts of a well-defined business continuity plan.

Business continuity strategies, when well developed and tested, are designed to protect a business from disruption, foreseen or otherwise. Their objectives are to ensure an organization’s operations are seamlessly maintained, while keeping the workforce productive. It provides a framework and guide of what actions need to be taken for specific circumstances, what roles and responsibilities individuals have throughout, and what technologies need to be in place to achieve success, with expectations clearly outlined.

To maintain employee engagement and productivity throughout a crisis, effective solutions that are scalable, flexible working models are required. Depending on the current state of an organization’s IT infrastructure and the types of technology deployed, battle-tested strategies are available, such as the industry-leading Citrix Workspace solution, that hit the majority of check marks for business sustainability. This remote access infrastructure and technology solution provides secure connectivity to organizational applications and data, 24/7 on any device from anywhere.

The Remote Digital Workspace Trend

Organizations like to be in control, dictating where and when employees work. The proverbial rug gets pulled from underneath them when governments, transportation networks, health authorities, or even landlords implement restrictions that restrict corporate operations. Those juggernauts will impact and filter down through supply chains, and customer operations.

The Coronavirus is accelerating and expanding remote access and digital workspace solution adoption as businesses develop alternative work modalities for broader sets of employees to reduce perceived health risks during pandemic situations. In fact, it is a market trend that has benefited organizations in a multitude of ways, not just in emergencies, for decades. The advent of the economic impacts of COVID-19 is simply amplifying the need for and the value of remote access and digital workspaces. Citrix, as a market-leading vendor of digital workspaces, provides solutions that offer quick turnaround time to switch from on-premise workday efforts to remote access with minimal downtime and with ample security controls to mitigate risk.

On the upside, remote workers form one of the fastest growing employment sectors in North America. It is enabled by a host of tools, and not just from the perspective of business continuity. The remote digital workspace connects people and information, on demand around the world. Leveraging Citrix technology, it provides the ability to access secure, highly managed application environments that are available anytime, anywhere.

The Pieces of Successful Remote Workforce Integration

Most perceive remote access or working from home as… the ability to access work email, hold virtual meetings with clients or fellow employees, and to securely hook into the office network to retrieve and continue working on documents. All of these can be achieved with a variety of tools (VPNs, video conference applications (e.g. GoToMeeting, WebEx, Zoom), etc.) to remain connected, facilitate collaboration and be productive.

Although the above requirements are needed to continue performing one’s duties to a degree, the key functionality missing from the standard ‘collaboration’ tool approach is the requirement for and the ability to connect to productivity and mission critical applications and data remotely. This is accomplished through secure, robust technology, as a holistic approach, in order to maintain key operations 24/7. In many businesses, this can range into the hundreds of line of business applications requiring high performance access on a day-to-day basis. Citrix provides the necessary digital platforms, tailored to organizational and workforce needs to meet the digital economy challenges, leveraging workspace technologies that allow employees to work securely from anywhere.

The solutions and potential outcomes will be defined by the current state of an organization’s IT environment and the direction management is willing to take to ensure operational sustainability. Does the organization have an existing remote workspace program? Is the organization open to upgrades to improve the effectiveness of the environment to further minimize the impact to workers, suppliers and customer? If not, are there near future plans to implement that could be escalated?

For existing Citrix environments, licensing can be scaled to meet the temporary needs of employees. And for new environments, solutions are available to implement a secure remote access strategy with greater control than conventional VPN within a matter of days to help organizations realize almost immediate results for their business continuity preparedness.

For organizations looking to enhance their business continuity abilities in the face of present challenges, engaging knowledgeable and experienced Citrix experts is key to understanding the available options to move forward and the timelines to do so.

The Benefits Now and for the Long-Term

Leveraging a Digital Workspace Solution:

  • Turn uncertainty into known outcomes with confidence in times of struggle; a clear vision during crisis.
  • Invest in a resilient, scalable, remote access Citrix work infrastructure that can ensure business continuity, while maintaining complete control, tracking, reporting and auditing.
  • Robust, secure access to critical line of business applications.
  • Provide seamless experience for end-users, while continuing to enforce security and compliance policies.
  • During crisis, demonstrate corporate social responsibility by protecting employees, their families and the community at large. This includes the potential to lessen the healthcare workload through the direct personal contact reduction.
  • Ongoing enhanced good corporate citizenship including reduced carbon footprint (reduced travel time, # cars on road); savings can be put back into the local economy.
  • Greater adoption of flexible working practices including companies operating smaller offices.

Final Thoughts – Lessons Learned from the Past

The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-2002) outbreak significantly disrupted travel and trade impacting the global economy into the billions. It taught governments and healthcare authorities what process improvements were required to reduce risks to the general population and provide better direct care to patients during the next outbreak or pandemic.

The current potential pandemic posed by COVID-19 is a somewhat different scenario, due to the speed it is migrating and the overall impacted numbers. The virus has and will continue to impact cities and countries, at an accelerating rate, at economic, corporate, employee and population levels that has never been seen before. As stated by Dr. Srinivas Murthy, a professor at the U of BC’s department of pediatrics and infectious disease specialist at the BC Children’s Hospital, the outbreak of viruses with the potential to become pandemics is going to be “our new norm.” Following the SARS outbreak, lessons learned have enhanced global health collaboration and the expedition of best practices and processes to combat the outbreaks like never before.

As an organization, take the SARS lessons learned as an opportunity to improve your business continuity plans now while building out a flexible remote digital workspace strategy. The lessons learned from the past have better prepared our global healthcare response processes with an agility that has amazed medical experts. Let the current COVID-19 situation be a catalyst for your operational improvements. After all, this may be the new norm.

Ferroque Systems – Experts in Digital Workspaces and Workforce Preparedness

To assist your organization Ferroque Systems, a national leader in Citrix digital workspaces and networking technology integration and managed services. Ferroque can provide new and existing customers with a knowledgeable assessment of your current IT landscape for both current state and business continuity readiness. Ferroque Systems can show you how they can rapidly get your organization pandemic ready with Citrix and other technologies in a matter of days in some cases, thanks to numerous delivery models available from accessing a virtual desktop to accessing existing physical workstations. Contact us today to get started.

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