Editor's Choice

Is it ‘back to normal’ or should we continue with digital resilience?

EMP 2023 Electronics Manufacturing & Production Handbook Editor's Choice Manufacturing / Production Technology, Hardware & Services

As companies in South Africa revert to a semblance of the ‘normality’, many businesses are moving their employees and operations back to the original workplace. However, digital transformation and the mobilisation of a remote workforce should not have been in vain, and organisations should continue to leverage these established systems and investment.

Conversely, the same applies to business operations and resilience – both digitisation and digitalisation must continue to establish a transformed foundation for the future.

This sentiment is also echoed by analyst group, IDC, which estimates that by 2025 there will be 41,6 billion connected IoT devices, including machines, sensors, and cameras. “In hospitals, datacentres, critical manufacturing plants, and industrial sites, continuous uptime is non-negotiable, especially during catastrophic events,” says IDC.

To contextualise and re-emphasise the above, it’s important we take one step back. The pandemic caught a lot of organisations off-guard, particularly when it came to allowing remote access. In a matter of weeks or even days, organisations had to transform their infrastructure to allow for remote working.

Unfortunately, as with most things in life that require a quick turnaround, the above came at a hefty price tag. In some instances, organisations had in days changed their IT corporate networks to allow for remote connectivity. This included making sure VPNs were up and running quickly, and organisations that were fortunate enough to have up-to-date architectures, implemented other alternatives such as SD-WANs and secure access service edge (SASE).

This was undoubtedly a costly exercise. Which introduces the next important point: no one can predict what the future holds, which is why the adage ‘rather safe than sorry’ couldn’t be truer.

Building on what we have

Currently, most organisations have systems in place to allow for hybrid working. And whilst many employees have returned to company offices, they have the option and flexibility to work from home, depending on organisational policy.

If anything, we should encourage and foster agility amongst workers, which is why digital resilience is key; it allows organisations to adapt to business disruptions by making use of digital technologies to continue with the daily operations.

Digital resilience was one of the key attributes that saw some organisations adapt to the pandemic quicker than others. Thus, to prepare for the future, organisations must take a strategic approach to deploying digital technologies.

For example, in the datacentre industry, those companies which already had advanced Datacentre Infrastructure Management (DCIM) systems in place, had no problem running and securing their infrastructure even with datacentre staff working offsite.

DCIM allowed organisations to conduct remote health checks of the power infrastructure, which included overall performance and cooling. Also, datacentre owners were not the only ones to benefit from the DCIM tools. Organisations moved quickly to install DCIM and reaped the benefits.

Establishing an agile workforce

Not all organisations have the luxury of running a remote workforce. However, those industries and resultant organisations that are in the position to do so, should take the following steps to establish a secure, productive, and agile workforce:

• Conduct a thorough evaluation of the type of business and its workforce.

• Deploy the applicable digital tools and connectivity solutions that include remote software and devices.

• Cybersecurity must be prioritised.

• Provide continuous power to mitigate potential disruptions.

• Ensure that the remote and on-site working environments of the employees are ergonomic and professional.

• Adjust management styles to allow for a more ‘flexible’ working model with an emphasis on results and realistic performance matrices.

• The workforce must be trained and prepared to work in remote environments.

• Regular review via meetings to ensure teams are still productive.

• Consistent and continuous technical support.

• New employees must be given enough time to adjust to a hybrid and/or working model.

Lastly, cybersecurity remains a crucial element of organisations’ infrastructure and working models. The attack surface is much bigger, and organisations must ensure they are fully protected, and their employees trained to identify any potential threats.


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