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How to build a more resilient business

Introduction

What is a resilient business? To a certain degree, we’ve all proven ourselves resilient: you’ve withstood a major shock to your operations, where countless others did not.
 
Many businesses found their crisis management strategies tested to the limit in 2020. They’ve been forced to make fundamental, disruptive and rapid changes to operations, working practices and customer engagement. The pandemic compressed business resilience roadmaps of years and months into weeks, if not days.
 
But while the economic impact of the pandemic has provided a stern test for business continuity, resilience and security the world over, there is always more that can – and should – be done.
 
In this guide, we’ll examine what business resilience looks like in today’s world, and offer some guidance on how you can make your business more resilient.
 

Surviving the pandemic is no small feat, but whether an organisation is resilient is never a matter of “yes” or “no”. Unlike a building that survives an earthquake, resilience is more than just survival.

Flexibility

Business resilience gives companies the flexibility to overcome operational disruptions.

Agility

The capability to adjust and adapt the business with changing circumstances.

Businesses have already refocused during COVID-19 to help employees work from home, providing the tools and connectivity to operate in a remote working environment. Many such businesses have benefited from the resilience built into their communications technologies or cloud platforms.

To become resilient, companies need the underlying fundamentals of business continuity and security in place.
 

In recent years, businesses have sought to drive growth in various ways: from digital transformation of their business, to adopting cloud technology, to providing flexible working for their employees.

COVID-19 has accelerated the adoption of those technologies, practices and business models. It has led organisations to:
Implement remote working strategies at short notice
Hasten digital transformation by over 5 years (IoT Now global survey)
Fast-track cloud services, business solutions and security solutions
Reappraise their data security and management strategies
Businesses have been forced to confront issues of continuity, security and resilience as they trade their way out of the shadow of COVID-19.
 
But businesses may have taken swift action at the expense of effectiveness. Would the strategies and plans they rapidly put in place be more comprehensive and wider ranging had they been given more time to implement them?
 
Some of us have struggled with entrenched architectures, infrastructure, processes and cultures that aren’t flexible enough for rapid and radical operational changes. Following the pandemic, business architectures and processes across industries need to become more agile and flexible.
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Business continuity planning after COVID

The pandemic has disrupted business across every industry. Read our practical guide to learn how best to approach business continuity in the new normal.

A number of technologies, trends and platforms are speeding up the adoption of digitalisation, such as cloud, remote working, IoT and analytics.

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39% of enterprises have accelerated their digitalisation plans (The Vodafone Business Future Ready Report 2020).
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36% said a major factor for speeding up digitalisation was weaknesses in their business models highlighted by the pandemic.
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By 2022, 70% of all organisations will have accelerated their use of digital technologies, transforming existing business processes to drive customer engagement, employee productivity and business resiliency (IDC).

Access to data and automated processes provided by IoT is another factor helping to clear the path to digitalisation.

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84% of adopters identified IoT as a key factor in maintaining business continuity throughout the COVID-19 crisis (Vodafone Business IoT Spotlight Report 2020).
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73% of IoT users have accelerated the pace of adoption.
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77% say the pandemic has caused them to rethink their approach to use IoT to provide greater stability and adaptability in operations.

While cloud technology has been on the rise for several years, its pivotal role in helping businesses adapt to the “new normal” has revealed just how essential it is for business resilience and continuity planning.

Almost 70% of organisations using cloud services aim to increase their cloud spending in the wake of the disruption caused by COVID-19 (Gartner).
The number of enterprises that believe more than half of IT workloads will be hosted in the cloud within the next year has doubled to 56% (CSS Insight)
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Spending on public cloud IT infrastructure exceeded the level of spend on non-cloud IT infrastructure for the first time in the second quarter of 2020 (IDC).

While cloud technology has been on the rise for several years, its pivotal role in helping businesses adapt to the “new normal” has revealed just how essential it is for business resilience and continuity planning.

But businesses need to address several key issues:
 

  • Are you gaining full advantage of the efficiencies and agility that cloud brings?
  • Are you retaining the value of your legacy systems and key business process applications?
  • Do you have a standardised, reliable and secure IT environment?
  • Are you sure your business is protected against security threats?
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Data is the lifeblood of the modern economy and a strategic asset for businesses. If your company doesn’t collect and use data in the right way, you’re at risk of falling behind.

Data is essential for day-to-day operations and commercial decision making.
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Securing data is ever more critical.
Remote access requires more data protection and cyber security measures than access on your internal network.

Understandably, many businesses are anxious about data security. The Vodafone Business Future Ready Report 2020 found that:

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22% of businesses felt less than reasonably well-equipped to securely store and process data.
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73% admitted it was a major challenge to harness their data effectively.
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Businesses are harvesting less than a quarter of the data they store for commercial benefit.
Many of these businesses are concerned because they’re still in the process of figuring out how best to leverage data in their organisation. With so much that can go wrong with a poorly executed data strategy, they have no choice but to move carefully. More businesses are expected to make the shift to a data-powered model in the post-COVID landscape, but getting all the components in place remains a challenge.

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Cloud technology has become a mainstay in modern business security. Learn how to get the most out of your cloud solutions while keeping your information secure.

The pandemic forced many businesses to implement remote working for employees almost overnight. Such rapid adoption has presented a number of challenges:

Cyber security

It is harder to secure a central network if employees are accessing it from multiple remote locations. A top concern for companies in terms of remote/home working is “ensuring employees can work securely and in compliance with industry requirements” (Omdia, Sept 20).

Device management

Managing the security of employee devices is considerably more difficult when they’re connecting to the central network remotely.

Device Lifecycle Management

Businesses face a challenge in how they build, manage, deploy and replace dispersed employee mobile, tablet and laptop devices from a central location.

Device Lifecycle Management

Businesses are concerned they will have less control over remote workers compared to office-based employees. According to the Vodafone Business Future Ready Report 2020, 30% of respondents fear that any gain in productivity from less commuting don’t outweigh the advantages of a centralised workplace.

Businesses are under pressure to address these concerns because, for many, there is no going back.

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44% of businesses expect flexible and remote working practices to remain in place long term (Vodafone Business Future Ready Report 2020).
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33% believe reducing employee commuting time makes them more productive (Vodafone Business Future Ready Report 2020).
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34% of senior leaders expect more than half of their workforce to work mainly from home after the pandemic (CCS Insight)

Business continuity solutions are vital for business survival in the event of a disaster or other disruptive event. With that in mind, the Vodafone Business Future Ready Report 2020 offers some illuminating insights:

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Only 30% of businesses had a fully documented and tested business continuity plan.
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33% were fully documented but not tested.
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17% of companies had no business continuity plan.
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A further 20% did not have a fully documented plan.

If any of these stats feel uncomfortably familiar, it’s time to revisit and revise your business continuity solution. If you don’t have one in place, there’s no better time to start than now.
 

Here are key questions to ask yourself about your organisation’s business continuity plan:
 

Disaster recovery

Can you recover or restore IT and technology systems that support critical business functions?

Connectivity

How do you prevent loss of connectivity? Are you making the best use of the different types of connectivity to build resilience into your strategy?
 

Continuity

Is your continuity strategy fully documented? Is there flexibility to make changes at short notice?

Recovery

Are you confident the plan provides the availability, continuity of operations and recovery to meet the challenges and risks of a post-COVID world?

Scalability

Can your business continuity strategy scale to cover changes to the business structure and the addition of new technologies and platforms?

Processes

Are processes clearly defined for when the business continuity plan is put into place?

Organisation

Is it clear who owns and manages the business continuity strategy within the company?
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Tools

Do you have the right tools to execute the business continuity plan? If new tools or technologies are required, do you have the skills inhouse or access to partners that can deploy and support them?

The value of cyber security cannot be overemphasised, particularly as many have accelerated digitalisation, cloud and remote working during the pandemic.

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Critical

Cyber security is vital, so businesses need to adopt security solutions that work across all endpoints: no matter the user, branch, location or device.

Distributed

Security strategies and technologies need to protect onsite and cloud-based data and the connections between them. Data security and integrity is vital. Businesses need to align backup, disaster recovery, data management, network security and availability.
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Remote access

There is a shift in balance from a large number of employees accessing the network internally to the majority using it externally. The integrity and security of the network is vital for remote employees to work productively for the business. Remote device management can help protect the network and operations from external security threats. Communication and collaboration needs to be robust and secure.

Business resilience and the confidence to make changes

An effective cyber security strategy provides a foundation for business resilience and the confidence to make changes without being hindered by security concerns.
 
Customer loyalty and trust is another important factor in business resilience. Customers need to be on board when businesses pivot their operations to adapt to changing circumstances. Strong cyber security builds that trust and loyalty.
An effective cyber security strategy provides a foundation for business resilience and the confidence to make changes without being hindered by security concerns.
 
Customer loyalty and trust is another important factor in business resilience. Customers need to be on board when businesses pivot their operations to adapt to changing circumstances. Strong cyber security builds that trust and loyalty.

While many organisations can withstand potential shocks to their operations, this doesn’t mean they will survive and thrive after that initial impact. There’s some good news, though: you may be in the process of implementing – or have already deployed – technologies that strengthen your business resilience.

 
 

Cloud:

the ability to scale workloads and applications up and down as conditions change, or to shift the business to exploit an opportunity, is an important element of resilience. Many cloud platforms also provide a higher level of security than onsite infrastructure.
 

Network:

the business network needs to be robust enough to support the transfer of data, voice and video onsite and remotely, as well as to and from the cloud. The network should provide a similar experience working from home as in the office.

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Backup and disaster recovery:

by taking advantage of cloud-based technologies, businesses can implement more robust and agile backup and disaster recovery strategies.
 

Communication:

as remote working becomes the norm, reliable communication platforms are essential to business resilience.

Collaboration:

businesses need effective collaboration applications for their increasingly distributed and remote workforces.
 

Digital transformation:

digitalisation includes inbuilt technologies and features that can improve business resilience.

The market for global enterprise network services is undergoing a generational shift in technologies and provider landscape. See how Gartner analysts view these changes and their impact on the positioning of I&O market leaders.

The pandemic has accelerated investment in remote working, connectivity, the cloud, digitalisation, IoT and analytics. This is neither a simple nor quick investment, for a number of reasons:

The greater agility and flexibility provided by connectivity, the cloud, digitalisation and remote working needs to be mirrored in the resilience measures that underpin it.
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What level of risk are you prepared to accept?
Security has always been a top priority for business investment and will continue to be so. Building better business resilience is a natural part of that investment.

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For many businesses, there’s a trade-off between security and risk. The questions you need to ask are:

The greater agility and flexibility provided by connectivity, the cloud, digitalisation and remote working needs to be mirrored in the resilience measures that underpin it.
What level of security do you need to achieve?
There’s a compromise between your ideal resilience and security and how much you’re able to spend on it. The aim is to achieve the “Goldilocks” balance of optimal security, with the lowest amount of risk, for a realistic cost.
The good news is that many business technology trends, such as cloud and digitalisation, have a greater level of inbuilt resilience and security than traditional infrastructure and technology. Communications and network technologies have inherent resilience that mitigates the cost of overlaying additional security to match risk profiles.
You just need to know how to incorporate these technologies for the best impact on existing risk profiles. Getting it “just right” is not easy. Providers in these areas have the skills and expertise to improve risk management and business resilience strategies using these technologies and platforms.

Vodafone Business is an ideal partner to provide technologies and services for the disruptive changes facing business today. With reliable connectivity, the cloud, digitalisation, remote working, IoT and cyber security, we can help make your business more resilient.

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Our cloud services include Cloud Security Management, Managed Infrastructure and Managed Network Security.
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Unified Communications services deliver consistent, secure and reliable integrated communications. Our software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) platforms provide the flexibility, visibility and control to ring-fence bandwidth for business-critical apps, scale up and down to meet the bandwidth demands of new devices and services and support a wide range of new applications.
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Our infrastructure services include Mobile 4G/5G, SD-WAN and Mobile Private Networks. We also provide security and management for employee mobile, tablet and laptop devices with our Device Management and Device Lifecycle Management services.
Solar Panel
Mobile Private Networks (MPN) offer guaranteed bandwidth, ultra-low latency and protected data flow. Our Narrowband-IoT (NB-IoT) low power wide area network (LPWAN) technology provides efficient communication, long battery life for mass distributed devices and lower costs for wide geographical footprints or deep within urban infrastructure.
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We provide a range of services, including Security Assessment and Managed Network Security. All of our SD-WAN platforms let businesses easily update security rules and update policies in real-time.
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Our wide range of services to customers gives them the flexibility to maintain connectivity in any eventuality. They include: Internet, Ethernet, SD-WAN, Satellite, Narrowband-IoT, Mobile 4G/5G and Cloud Connect.

Cloud

IMG-599819538-OG
Our cloud services include Cloud Security Management, Managed Infrastructure and Managed Network Security.

Digitalisation

864987408_Micro_Eyes_closeup_with_computer_reflection
Unified Communications services deliver consistent, secure and reliable integrated communications. Our software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) platforms provide the flexibility, visibility and control to ring-fence bandwidth for business-critical apps, scale up and down to meet the bandwidth demands of new devices and services and support a wide range of new applications.

Remote working

Lady with Dog
Our infrastructure services include Mobile 4G/5G, SD-WAN and Mobile Private Networks. We also provide security and management for employee mobile, tablet and laptop devices with our Device Management and Device Lifecycle Management services.

IoT

Solar Panel
Mobile Private Networks (MPN) offer guaranteed bandwidth, ultra-low latency and protected data flow. Our Narrowband-IoT (NB-IoT) low power wide area network (LPWAN) technology provides efficient communication, long battery life for mass distributed devices and lower costs for wide geographical footprints or deep within urban infrastructure.

Security

932631926_Micro_Use_of_VR
We provide a range of services, including Security Assessment and Managed Network Security. All of our SD-WAN platforms let businesses easily update security rules and update policies in real-time.

Connectivity

Notes
Our wide range of services to customers gives them the flexibility to maintain connectivity in any eventuality. They include: Internet, Ethernet, SD-WAN, Satellite, Narrowband-IoT, Mobile 4G/5G and Cloud Connect.