Business Continuity Through Digital Workspaces

Protecting Your Business from Disruption

With the threatened pandemic related to the COVID-19 virus, the global economy is in uncharted territory given the speed of which the virus is spreading, according to the Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO). 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 pitted against fast moving illnesses that require quick responses from health authorities, governments, and the economic engines of the world…including your business.

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, we are now dealing with a global event, one that has seriously strained health organizations, layering hardships and significant economic impacts upon world populations, thus spurring governments to action. Unprepared businesses with neither a cohesive all-encompassing business continuity plan, nor a robust adaptable IT infrastructure, are sure to face challenges within the corporate walls; including, decreasing customer commitments, a decreasing revenue base, and hits to their reputation.

Even the best-laid corporate plans can easily be derailed by government edicts, such as travel restrictions, quarantines, and more. Events such as COVID-19 make 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 are 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 organizations’ 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 both scalable and flexible 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, which meets the mark 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.

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.

COVID-19 is accelerating and expanding remote access and digital workspace solution adoption. Businesses are forced to develop alternative work modalities for broader sets of employees to reduce perceived health risks during such pandemic situations. It is a market trend that has benefited organizations for decades in a multitude of ways, not just in emergencies. The advent of the economic impacts of COVID-19 has simply amplified 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 an on-premise solution to a remote access solution, 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. Enabled by a host of tools, and not just from the perspective of business continuity, the remote digital workspace connects people and information around the world. Leveraging Citrix technology provides the ability to access secure, highly managed application environments that are available both anytime and anywhere.

The Pieces of Successful Remote Workforce Integration

Most people 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 activities can be achieved to remain connected, facilitate collaboration, and be productive using a variety of tools; including, VPNs, and video conference applications, such as GoToMeeting, WebEx, or Zoom.

The solutions and potential outcomes is 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 on workers, suppliers, and customers? If not, are there near future plans to implement that could be escalated?

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, mission-critical applications, and data remotely. This is accomplished through secure, robust technology as a holistic approach to maintain key operations 24/7. In many businesses, this can range into hundreds of business applications requiring high-performance access on a day-to-day basis. Citrix provides the necessary digital platforms tailored to each organization and workforce needs to meet each companies digital economy challenges, leveraging workspace technologies that allow employees to work securely from anywhere and from any device.

For existing Citrix environments, licensing can scale to meet the temporary needs of employees. For new environments, solutions are available to implement a secure remote access strategy with greater control than the conventional VPN, within a matter of days. Such solutions can 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 quickly and efficiently.

The Benefits Now and for the Long-Term

Leveraging a Digital Workspace Solution:

  • Turn uncertainty into known outcomes with confidence in times of struggle, defining 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.
  • Gain robust, secure access to a critical line of business applications.
  • Provide a seamless experience for end-users while continuing to enforce security and compliance policies.
  • Demonstrate corporate social responsibility by protecting employees, their families, and the community at large during such a crisis as COVID-19, including the potential to lessen the healthcare workload through direct personal contact reduction.
  • Enhance good corporate citizenship, including a reduced carbon footprint, due to reduced travel time and the number of cars on the road. Such savings can be put back into the local economy.
  • Operate smaller offices, through greater adoption of flexible working practices.

Final Thoughts – Lessons Learned from the Past

SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) outbreak in 2002 significantly disrupted travel, and trade, impacting the global economy worth 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, COVID-19, is somewhat different from SARS, due to the speed of which it is migrating, and the overall population impact. The virus has and will continue to impact cities and countries at an accelerated rate, a rate that the economy, corporations, employees, and the population at large, has never been seen before. As stated by Dr. Srinivas Murthy, a professor at UBC’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, is a national leader in Citrix digital workspaces, 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 preparedness. Ferroque Systems can show you how to rapidly get your organization pandemic ready, using Citrix and other technologies; doing so, 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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