Go Home! The New Business Continuity

Go Home! The New Business Continuity

Business-continuity

Occasionally, a trend emerges that disrupts convention and transforms the entire digital sphere – from eCommerce in the 1990s to artificial intelligence and machine learning this century. Another seismic trend began to take shape during pandemic-induced lockdowns, sending shockwaves throughout the business world: remote working at scale. This inflexion point hasn’t just reshaped rigid working models for good amid a determination to leverage cloud-based solutions; it has rewritten the business continuity and disaster recovery rulebook.

Business continuity

Business continuity refers to the ability of an organisation to maintain its critical operations and deliver its products and services in the face of threats such as natural disasters, technological failures, or human-caused incidents. To be successful, they must implement robust strategies, procedures, and plans to ensure that essential business functions can be maintained or quickly resumed during and after incidents.

Without a plan to guide their response to difficult situations, business continuity will lack the structure needed to be successful. A good business continuity plan lists potential incidents that could cause disruption to an organisation and outlines actions to mitigate their business impact if they occur. This prescribed set of procedures outlines the steps it must take to respond to and recover from theses disruptive incidents, so critical functions can be resumed within a timeframe that’s pre-agreed with the business, defined as a recovery time objective (RTO) and a recovery point objective (RPO).

Business continuity focuses on co-ordinating an organisation’s holistic response to disruptive incidents to maintain operations. There’s a subsection of this business continuity plan that’s the responsibility of the IT department: disaster recovery. This plan covers recovering systems and data within a specific RTO and RPO.

Disaster recovery: pre-SaaS

Traditionally, businesses deployed a physical approach to disaster recovery that utilised disaster recovery sites. This process of ensuring on-premises IT systems were restored rapidly during an incident depended on the provision of fully equipped, scaled-back offices – a safe place to maintain operations if the regular office was inaccessible or even destroyed.

This disaster insurance policy involved organisations renting office space with companies like Sungard who would provide facilities for a select skeleton workforce that could be available at a moment’s notice – providing the foundation for business continuity when the organisation had its back against the wall. Crucially, it also afforded IT technicians the facilities needed to rebuild systems from backups.

Disaster recovery: post-SaaS

Even before the pandemic blindsided organisations in 2020, forcing them to rethink their business models, disaster recovery was shifting from physically restoring on-premises hardware and software to harnessing the cloud. Powering this pivot was the emergence of software-as-a-service (SaaS), which allows business-critical applications like Salesforce, Oracle NetSuite and Microsoft 365 to sit in the cloud – enhancing their accessibility. The result: a significant reduction in on-premises hardware with associated costs and a workforce that can login and work form anywhere, at any time – AKA the new world.

This flexible working model was accelerated by pandemic-induced lockdowns that shuttered offices across the world. Suddenly, SaaS and enforced home working combined to create an epiphany for businesses: disasters can be absorbed with minimal disruption by enabling cloud-based systems to be accessed away from the office – consigning disaster recovery sites to the past as hybrid working becomes the new normal.

They’ve been replaced by a streamlined and frictionless approach to business continuity: go home – a contemporary mindset that’s underscored by one of TDM Group’s valued partners. When our CEO and founder Tarek Meliti asked SR Group what happens if their WiFi goes down and users can’t work in the absence of structured cabling, IT Director Mark Hirst simply replied: “They can just go home and work from there!”

This is reinforced by a “never trust, always verify” mindset – known as a zero-trust strategy. Amid the exponential growth of hybrid working, this security framework reinforces an organisation’s defences by requiring all users – internal and external – to be authenticated, authorised, and continuously validated before being granted or maintaining access to apps and data. Without this additional layer of protection, remote working security would be a challenge.

Business continuity: a new dawn

This level of flexibility and security has moved the business continuity dial, allowing organisations to weather disruptive events without breaking the bank – from infrastructure failure and cyber-attacks to natural disasters like floods. Decentralisation improves resilience by reducing reliance on a single physical infrastructure – both in terms of the office building and its associated systems – allowing employees to leverage internet connections, devices, and cloud-based tools.

The best business continuity plans continually adapt to a dynamic environment, rather than remaining stagnant and becoming outdated. Hybrid working facilitates this agility by enabling business continuity to be tested repeatedly. With employees working from home several days a week, the business can test and assess their ability to do so efficiently and securely. They can leverage the results to determine how to maximise the potential of remote working during a disruptive event, reducing their reliance on the current office infrastructure.

Their ability to harness the innate agility of remote working during these challenging periods is supported by the provision of business line systems such as HR and accounting through SaaS. This cloud-enabled approach aligns their built-in DR capability with remote working – examples include Oracle NetSuite and Xero accounting systems. The result: holistic resilience without complex business continuity and disaster recovery investments.