Fleetwood Mac’s legendary song Don’t Stop (Thinking about Tomorrow) is a good way to reflect upon enterprise resilience in a world upended by the Covid-19 pandemic. While we can’t be sure exactly what the future holds, we can be sure that Yesterday’s Gone, in the words of the song.
The pandemic has ushered in an era of hyper disruption, putting pressure on businesses to adopt new ways of working and serving customers. Despite extraordinary efforts and accomplishments nationwide, it has brought into sharp relief how vulnerable many UK companies really are – and the inadequacy of much business continuity planning (BCP).
This once-in-a-generation shift puts digital transformation firmly in the crosshairs as businesses scramble to boost agility, build resilience and deliver real, sustainable value to customers.
Enabling working from home at scale has seen many enterprises accelerating their digital transformation plans. Adopting a remote collaboration tool such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom is just the tip of the iceberg; business longevity ultimately depends on what lies beneath the surface.
On your marks
Whether you are already out of the starting blocks on the race to become a digital business or still limbering up on the track, planning is essential.
During this period of transition, it is vital to set out a clear BCP and company-wide roadmap that is cascaded down from the CEO. This ensures everyone is moving in the same direction. As well as factoring in short-term solutions for the loosening of the lockdown, these plans need to be flexible enough to adapt and evolve longer term.
The Three Little Pigs story is a good analogy. Don’t build short-term solutions modelled on the straw or sticks approaches or you might well witness your ‘house’ – in this case your business operations – collapse in the next headwind. Instead opt for piggy number three’s approach: invest in strong digital foundations that can weather future storms.
As you reassess your BCP and strategic roadmap, consider the following:
- Align the leadership team and identify the resources and people needed to deliver it.
- Resist the urge to scale up multiple siloed pilot programs and focus instead on building a cohesive digital engine to drive the business forward.
- If you are able to invest now, consider spring-boarding promising pilot programs, developing new solutions that play to the needs of the new business climate, or upskilling teams.
- If cash is tied up in business-critical operations, use this time to undertake cost optimization exercises and to surface insights that boost efficiencies in IT spending.
As you accelerate your own digital transformation journey, here are two real-life examples to inspire you.
Building a remote contact center in 48 hours
At the start of the Covid-19 lockdown, South East Water was experiencing a 200 percent rise in call volumes to its contact center. At the same time, many of their call agents were unable to work because they were self-isolating and didn’t have the right tools at home. The company needed a scalable solution that could handle the additional activity whilst enabling them to scale back when it had passed the peak. The company engaged ECS to help build a remote contact center in just 48 hours, allowing call agents to work productively from home. Building on an existing AWS instance, the solution required minimal upfront cost, little resourcing from IT and operations and – taking advantage of a cloud-based model – it is entirely scalable, both up and down.
Boosting your software build success rates to 60 percent+
Even in pre-Covid times, fewer than 10 percent of business software builds made it into production. Fortunately, it is possible to boost that success rate to over 60 per cent with a more structured approach based on assembling the right talent, having a clear roadmap with a user-centric focus, and finding the proper balance between stakeholder support and operational freedom. Teaming up with a specialist consultancy is proven to help that success rate climb even higher.
A new approach that is proving attractive to large enterprises is the use of outcome-focused, sprint-based pods. In the pod model, specialist teams are assembled to deliver the people, resources and capabilities you need, when you need them. By remotely embedding additional resources into your teams for short periods you can boost development cycles and also upskill your people in the tools required.
To be effective a pod needs to comprise multi-disciplined cross-functional teams – including UX and business analysts to better understand users’ needs and design customer-centric solutions at pace.
This is the approach taken by one of the world’s leading integrated oil and gas companies, BP. BP wanted to increase the release frequency of mission-critical applications and looked for a solution that could introduce a continuous integration culture and facilitate automated environment deployments. The solution was the introduction of a modern branching strategy, based on features being released. This ensured developers checked in their code frequently (multiple times a day), with code merges becoming frictionless and delivery of the software occurring as planned.
An eye on tomorrow
In summary, it’s sensible to approach the pandemic like any other disruptor. Focus on accelerating your digital transformation plans while also protecting your people, meeting your customers’ changing needs and building resilience into your BCP.
And don’t stop thinking about tomorrow. Because it will soon be here.
James Jarvis, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, ECS