BCP takes broader view of biz operations in disruption: Safi Obeidullah, Citrix

Digital workspaces make the future of work possible. Digital workspaces provide a single pane of glass through which IT can configure, monitor, and manage your entire technology infrastructure. Here, Safi Obeidullah, Field CTO (APJ), Citrix, presents his views on the future of work. Excerpts from an interview:

DQ: How can organizations build resilience for continuity into their businesses from the outset?

Safi Obeidullah: Amidst the ongoing global pandemic, many businesses around the world are having to provide remote access for all their employees, some are even doing this for the very first time. While people all over are getting used to this new normal, interruptions to the routine operation of a business could strike you from anywhere.

Field CTO APJ, CitrixDQI Bureau | DATAQUEST

Whether its key IT infrastructure and systems or business processes; enterprises must design and build them with disruption in mind. It is always easier to include the ability to handle disruptions when you are first setting things up than trying to bolt on a fix later on. Also consider the workflows performed by employees to get work done, putting technology aside. Many business processes only exist in the heads of employees. Critical business processes should be identified, documented and if possible, automated.

DQ: How can enterprises mitigate their risks post identifying and accessing the impact?

Safi Obeidullah: When the business is disrupted, enterprises might not necessarily be able to have all services available at their disposal. They need to identify and prioritise the key functions to allow the business to continue to operate. One must ensure that they take a wider lens on the business operations beyond just IT, what if employees cannot physically get to the office, do their key suppliers have a business continuity plan?

Consider what the impact would be in the different elements of your business operations and the different ways your business could be disrupted. Once the key functions have been identified and the impact has been assessed, enterprises need to work out the approach to mitigating the risks for each of these. The answer might be switching to manual processes in some cases, while in others it could be a specific technology solution. Identifying what the alternative mode of operation would be and building this in the business continuity plan becomes crucial.

DQ: Why do you think it is essential to have a business continuity plan in place?

Safi Obeidullah: Whether you are a large or small organisation, there will be unplanned events that occur and disrupt the ability for employees to be productive. Anything from natural disasters to IT incidents to power or telecommunications outages and many more can cause these disruptions.

A business continuity plan takes a broader, organizational wide view on how to minimize, or prevent altogether, the impact to business operations in the event of a disruption; while an organization’s disaster recovery plan may focus on those core technology elements, data centers, critical infrastructure and systems. It is imperative that a clear business continuity plan is documented and hosted in a location that is easily accessible by everyone who needs it and importantly accessible from anywhere.

The plan should ideally include:
* Identifying the chain of command and key stakeholders when the business continuity plan is invoked
* A clear communication strategy of how to stay in touch with anyone who needs to know what’s going on. This essentially includes employees, executives, suppliers, contractors, etc.
* Processes for how key business functions will continue to be operate, including the order in which functions should be enabled to ensure high priority services are available first
* How dependent stakeholders and employees are educated on the business continuity plan so they are aware of how things would operate.

DQ: How does one make business continuity an alternative way of working into every day functionality?

Safi Obeidullah: Business continuity planning is a critical process for any sized organization and provides a framework on how to deal with disruptions to the normal business operations. It gives businesses an alternative method of operating when a disruption occurs. However, being a different way of working, it needs to be maintained, alternate solutions may need to be deployed and employees need to be trained to work differently under this scenario.

For certain disruptions, where employees cannot physically get to their office, they just need to be able to work remotely. This capability needs to be built into the way they work every day. This means ensuring employees have secure access to all the applications and files they need to be productive from anywhere and any device. This way, working remotely is no different to working in the office. To help employees meet and collaborate with people, you will also need to provide conferencing services like GoToMeeting or Teams.

Remote working, most importantly, enables employees to balance their own personal needs with their work needs along with providing benefits to the organisation by enabling employees to be productive from anywhere.

Consider the time employees spend commuting everyday to work. In India, a recent study has shown that employees are spending an average of two hours per day just on their commute! So, commuting is not only consuming a lot of time but think about the stress and anxiety of sitting in traffic for that long every day.

Work/life balance is critical to ultimately delivering a better employee experience and driving positive engagement. The way I work remotely, should essentially feel similar to how I work from anywhere. Planning for business continuity cannot be a one-off exercise. Whether it is new systems or processes being added or even new business functions, it needs to be a live document that is always evolving as the business changes. Remember, work is not a place, it is a thing we do.

DQ: How has Citrix helped businesses to continue operating with a dispersed workforce?

Safi Obeidullah: For over three decades Citrix has focused on the vision of enabling employees to securely work from anywhere and any device. Many organisations embraced our solutions to empower their employees to be productive and work from anywhere, whether that be from home, on the go or in the office. Its these organisations that were able to minimise any disruptions to their operations during this period and having adopted the Citrix platform, working from home during this pandemic, was just another work day.

Citrix delivers a platform for work that provides organisations with the necessary tools to securely deliver all of the applications, whether they be Windows apps, Web or SaaS apps, as well as all of the files people need to get their work done. We provide a range of services to not only simplify the way employees access their applications and files but also secure and optimise the performance of those applications as well whether they be deployed in on-premise data centers or in the cloud. This allows organisations to embrace a hybrid multi-cloud approach when it comes to deploying infrastructure and applications while maintaining a secure and unified approach from employees accessing these services.

Citrix continues to drive innovation in powering the future of work and recently released a range of new capabilities to add greater intelligence to Citrix Workspace. This allows employees to not only access the applications and files they need, but also leverage machine learning to guide and automate the workflows and processes that they need to perform every day. This helps keep employees focused on the work at hand, guiding them through the daily tasks more efficiently and ultimately drive greater productivity.

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