Four factors CIOs must consider during COVID-19

How to keep employees connected and able to run the business as usual

With many employees around the world now working from home in lockdown compliance, it’s up to organisations to take proactive steps to maintain as much operational continuity as possible.

The role of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) has never been more important. Here are four factors CIOs must consider, now and in the future, to ensure employees are equipped to stay productive and keep the business running as usual:

Stay connected

In times of crisis, it’s essential to stay connected and have face-to-face. Technology teams must quickly adapt non-traditional communication applications such as videoconferencing or instant messaging platforms to make it easier for remote workers to stay in touch with one another. CIOs must also consider providing employees with the full range of necessary hardware for working remotely with full mobility.

Build capacity and adapt

One of the critical tools for efficient and secure remote working is having a robust virtual private network (VPN). A VPN is an encrypted connection that helps to ensure that sensitive data is safely transmitted, and only authorised personnel have access. Depending on the type of business and the volume of employees, CIOs must adapt quickly to build capacity and increase bandwidth, in order to cope with the increasing number of employees who are working remotely.

Identify security needs

If cyber security wasn’t at the top of a CIOs list before, it should be now. Cyber criminals are shifting their tactics to attack home networks, in an effort to infect devices that are connected to the organisation’s VPN. It is therefore critical for CIOs to review the existing security infrastructure and assess what people will need to work safely. Take into consideration the devices employees will use (company-issued or personal devices), and the networks they’ll be on (public or private). To counteract the threat of cyber-attacks, employees must be kept informed and updated on policies and procedures around proper data usage and protection. And they must be given guidance on how to identify phishing and malware attempts.

Test, test and test again

Unprecedented strains on technology infrastructure are to be expected during this time. To circumvent this and ensure business continuity, CIO’s and their teams need to test their infrastructure and network resilience relentlessly, for example through stress testing to monitor and manage core systems. All software and hardware should be checked regularly to prevent any downtime for the business.

Disruptive technology is changing the way we work and the nature of our workplaces. In times such as this, it is critical that digital technology is fully integrated into a company’s strategy so that it can benefit all employees and help businesses to thrive.

This article is written by Mohamed Abdel Razek, Regional Chief Information Officer, Africa & Middle East and a version of this article was first published by Gulf News on 16 April 2020.