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Business continuity perspectives in times of COVID-19

Business Continuity

Jan Husak, Business Development Cloud Services

COVID-19 has disrupted business in Switzerland and other countries and also accelerated digital transformation. Business continuity has been enriched with practical aspects how to reshape successful business in the new normal. We shed in this first episode a light on some practical solutions.for business continuation in the new normal.

Many of you have gone through various aspects of business continuity when the Coronavirus wave has hit your country, enterprise or company. Business continuity is beyond this impact and the ripple effects that come with it though serves as a good example why, how and what to be associated with business continuity. In this post we elaborate perspectives in the management layer of a business continuity plan leaving exploration in infrastructure and policy layers for a follow-up discussion.


In Switzerland, companies were ordered by the Federal Council to implement stringent measures to protect their employees like social distancing at work and a maximum number of persons that physically could meet. Companies prepared for such a scenario implemented or extended their home office solutions for all their employees demonstrating business continuity however, quite a number of companies, especially Small Medium Businesses (SMB), had to implement this transition by surprise, urgently or in some cases it was even not possible.


As a result, Microsoft has seen an 700%+ increase in usage of Microsoft Teams by the end of March 2020 for calling and meetings in Italy where working from home is now the rule as they state in their blog update #2 on Microsoft cloud services continuity. Additionally Windows Virtual Desktop has seen growth usage by 300% and due to these traffic increases Microsoft is now prioritizing certain services as well as throttling Azure cloud access to ensure to meet customer demands for capacity in response to COVID-19. As many collaboration and (unified) communication tools are located today in the cloud companies that want (or are required) to use them have to embrace cloud based services.

Ripple effect

These unprecedented times have clearly shown foreseen transformations accelerated by years (e.g. remote working, digital transformation, video conferencing everywhere - video conferencing for instance in such a scale was really new to most). What was thought to be impossible in times before COVID-19 suddenly turns to be the new normal where for instance an increased demand on home-/remote work will be established with a ripple effect how to extend a secure, performant and reliable office environment to each home office. Traditional IT (infrastructure, processes, way of working (workplace)) may be exposed with increasing lacks of satisfying new needs like workforce empowerment, new IT systems implementation times, business agility and flexibility or ability to apply and enforce adjusted security policies and means. All this can be leading as well to a significant hindrance to business continuity.

Companies prepared with home office solution enhanced their existing setup by adapting corporate infrastructure and employee equipment with security perimeters and policies already in place. Companies new to home office they had to implement new solutions for this emergency tactically with a potential exposure to security risks due to lack of plans.

A declaration to support

In correlation with the SPIE values like Proximity, Responsibility, Performance business continuity is at the core of SPIE's center of customer attention. Whether customers face challenges like their own digital transformation journey, (urgent) cloud adoption or have to deal with the return to the new normal after COVID-19 business continuation there is always the priority of maintaining business continuity. However, we also see business continuity at risk when legal or compliance requirements are not met (which are business segment specific), data retention gaps occur or internal security threats are overlooked or not adequately handled.

SPIE was embracing business continuity already before the COVID-19 times with a modern workforce and data access for employees from anywhere they need it. These practices cover the following business continuity areas in:

  • Addressing and implementing security to ensure reliable and secure access the enterprise systems and resources to remain productive as part of a business continuity plan (BCM)
  • Implementing (or help implement) a common collaboration platform to ensure internal and external business communication remains functional (where necessary, integrated with the existing telephony system) and supporting the new location flexibility
  • Assuring  business critical data (emails, documents) safety through reliable backup with policies for retention, legal and compliance requirements and also can help dealing with internal security threats
  • Safeguarding operation of business critical infrastructure resources through managed operation or using public cloud services or a combination of the these options

This list is not fully complete though it represents some key lessons learned from the COVID-19 disruption

Purposeful solutions

Together with customers, SPIE can help deciding case by case what functions qualify as essential for their business continuity and then support customers in preparing the next steps accordingly. For instance, the return to the office (under consideration of the regional / local policies and compliance requirements) presents an opportunity to re-evaluate the effectiveness of office communication. As one of the learnings from this COVID-19 situation tends to be that companies plan to shrink their office footprint and increase remote work, it appears to be an opportunity to re-evaluate a customer's business continuity readiness. SPIE can support its customers with ready-made business continuation solutions like:

  • Business Impact Analysis including a risk assessment to identify preventive controls for mitigating risks
  • Contingency Strategies based on NIST 800-34 Release 1
  • Smart Office Dashboard to support office space well-being and or effective usage of meeting space. Social distancing support is a specific use case to help complying to the health regulations and policies for the return to office
  • Migrate to / implement Microsoft 365 with business continuity priorities in mind
  • Assess current IT infrastructure under the aspect of business continuity and propose mitigation scenarios including migration scenarios to the cloud
  • Review the implemented Microsoft 365 and data retention / compliance requirements and provide sustainable Microsoft 365 data backup and safety service
  • Implement / migrate to Microsoft Teams including integration with all your other telephony resources (where required or further applicable)
  • Offer managed services consolidated in the SPIE cello suite where IT-outsourcing is identified as business continuity requirement

Key takeaways

The move back to the offices is gaining traction in May 2020 and beyond. Many of the tactical implementations for business continuity during the enforced remote worker setup due to COVID-19 need now to be reshaped into a sustainable operational model. SPIE's experience in these areas can help to smoothen these transitions as well continuing being prepared for any next unexpected business continuity challenge through helping to implement a business continuity plan (BCP).

This was an initial episode looking into business continuity from a very specific angle. There are other equally important perspectives on business continuity to be shared soon … please stay tuned.

Business continuity perspectives in times of COVID-19
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