Scale from Home: How to Build a Remote Centralized Hub in Response to COVID-19

The 2020 outbreak of COVID-19 has thrown a spanner in the works for business across the globe, to put it mildly. Already, 94% of the Fortune 1000 have seen COVID-19 disruptions. For 75% of companies, there is a material disruption to supply chains, compelling 1 in 6 firms to adjust their revenue targets downwards.

The World Economic Forum’s (WEF’s) 2019 report could hint to why this is the case.

The report authored in January of last year suggested that human beings are “neuro-biologically conditioned” to observe stark contrasts and sudden changes. But they often overlook slow-moving changes that could have long-term impacts.

In other words, it is possible that many businesses put off large-scale digital transformation as there was no imminent need. Now, in the midst of a global pandemic, this decision has come to roost. Look how companies were not prepared for BCP as they had not experienced any significant and long term outage over last 30 years so they were under prepared despite having integrated tool kits, modern and agile processes and robust infrastructure.

Companies that successfully come out on the other side, actioning a solid disaster recovery plan, will need assistance from centralized control hubs, that business leaders can manage remotely. These hubs will help to keep business essentials — such as core IT services, customer-facing applications, customer journey mapping, etc. — running smoothly as the period of crisis reaches and gradually begins to flatten.

To achieve this, business leaders would have to look at three considerations: ensuring IT service availability with access to remote workers i.e. IT Operations work bridge or remote control for visibility & action across employees, managers, and partners ie provide strict access controls that enforce the actions that an operator can perform. Secondly monitoring business applications to satisfy customers i.e. abide by first response policies and ensure fire-fighting process are executed. Finally, and thirdly providing a centralized hub which help in maintaining customer experience and preserving lines of revenue despite the fact that IT operations teams will need to deal increasingly complex responsibilities and they have to use lean & agile IT structure to prevent outages.

The key is to remain exactly like this, albeit in a safe, secure, hyper-connected virtualized framework

Maximizing IT service availability for large, distributed companies is a struggle even in the best of times. And with so many workers out of action, given the coronavirus outbreak, the quality of IT services is bound to suffer. Unfortunately, this has a massive impact on most companies’ revenue-generating activities, as our reliance on technology in every sphere of work is ever-growing.

What’s more, employees cannot follow up on issues in person and get IT queries resolved amidst a mass work from home (WFH) scenario.

Business leaders would need a next-gen IT service monitoring application with special provisions for remote workers. Particularly, a robust IT service catalog must be in place to assist WFH/remote employees at this time. Navigation and access should be as simple as possible — even without the COVID-19 disruption, workers spend too much time on highlighting and resolving their IT requirements.

As they try to balance professional activities with household obligations as well as the pandemic’s profound psychological impact, a smartly designed service catalog that eases employee workloads is essential.

Solutions like ServiceNow would prove critical during this time. ServiceNow’s IT Service Management (ITSM) platform has a host of features for a homebound employee. Its mobile platform connects all essential IT services, accelerating the mean time to resolution across IT, Hr, finance, legal, and other departments.

ServiceNow’s virtual agent lets employees ask queries in a natural language, using AI to streamline the experience. ServiceNow ITSM also includes a search-first Service Catalog, which lets employees browse an organization’s technology service capabilities from any location.

As the demand for specific business types and services spike in response to COVID-19, a jump in traffic could bring down the customer experience. In several cases, pre-COVID-19 infrastructure will not be able to handle current traffic volumes. For instance, Zoom recently strengthened its data centers and added fresh capacities from AWS, and MS Azure after demand shot through the roof.

But to pivot in the right direction, business leaders must keep a keen eye on the customer journey and anticipate any bottlenecks before they reach critical mass.

Business-focused application monitoring could be the answer to this issue.

It would link application performance to business performance in real-time, giving us clear actionable insights. At any given time, business leaders would be able to monitor active customers, check on key health metrics, view the quality of experience at key moments of the customer journey, and more.

AppDynamics (part of Cisco) has a great solution for this, called Business iQ. Here is Business iQ’s app + business performance dashboard for the financial sector — and we would be able to configure this for any industry needs.

Source

Business iQ is deployed on the cloud, making it accessible from any device, anywhere. It would generate automated alerts on performance, allowing business leaders to focus their attention on other areas. These auto-alerts would guide users towards timely decisions for ensuring a steady customer satisfaction (CSAT) score as demand goes through a flux due to COVID-19.

Companies simply cannot afford operational fragmentation while battling with so many variables during the pandemic. A remotely accessible centralized hub would enable a single source of truth, bringing together strategic leaders, managers, frontline employees, and third-party vendors.

To do this successfully, we need a service monitoring platform with robust integration capabilities.

Importantly, the integrations should be available natively, so that no time is wasted on custom development or configuration. A hybrid infrastructure and service monitoring platform with the requisite integrations out of the box can get a centralized operational hub running in under a week, alleviating any business interruptions arising from COVID-19. It will be useful to mention that An IT Operations Pro Reading list for Covid -19 a blog written by Darren Cunningham will be good read.

OpsRamp is a useful tool to consider in this regard. It digitizes the entire operations management framework, through the power of AIOps.

And because it is a pureplay SaaS solution, OpsRamp can be accessed by in-office, WFH, remote, and on-field workers alike. This makes it ideal for a wide range of scenarios — from knowledge workers who are WFH right now, to healthcare professionals constantly on the field.

But most importantly, OpsRamp offers powerful consolidation capabilities — letting you “control the chaos.”

You can integrate OpsRamp with the two platforms I already mentioned. The native ServiceNow ITSM integration enables two-way incident management and monitoring. And OpsRamp connects with AppDynamics as well, giving you a single pane of visibility into business, employee, and IT operations.

As we come to terms with the massive and unexpected impacts of COVID-19 on our business operations, outside the short-term reactive phase, this transition to centralized monitoring and process execution is vital. A smart combination of tools with an eye on the long-term — and not just the stark contrast of certain changes — will be critical for success in this complex new global landscape.

If you have used one or more of these platforms in response to COVID-19, please tell me about your experience at <<arvind@am-pmassociates.com>>.

And as always, stay connected — and stay safe 🙂

Board Advisor, Growth Enabler, Strategy & Culture Alignment and Technology Advisor