Every chief information officer takes resilience seriously. However, it’s become clear over the disruption of the past year that there are two ways of looking at resilience.
One is to think of it as preparing for the worst. Here, CIOs understand that black swan events can, in theory, happen and that they need to put in place fall-back plans and mitigations to help their businesses survive temporary upheaval.
The other is much more powerful. In this mindset, CIOs recognize that given the increasing complexity of the world, our interconnectedness and the increasing number of significant events -- from pandemics to climate change to social and political disruption -- they must build an enterprise that is resilient to the core. Their goal is to create an enterprise architecture that’s agile and adaptable by design and able to ensure the business not only survives in the face of adversity but thrives.
Taking this view couldn’t be more important. CIOs increasingly realize they must prepare for the unexpected. In this view, resilience is no longer about risk mitigation, it’s about adaptability and effortlessly reacting to the next major disruption.
Building an Effective Strategy
We’ve identified six core dimensions of an effective resilience strategy. Many CIOs will already be addressing some or all of these. But only the most successful will be taking a holistic view of all the dimensions and using this view to reimagine the enterprise operating model.
This approach delivers results because the various elements of resilience are not stand-alone functions. Rather, they interoperate with each other to protect the business and enable endless adaptability. An effective resilience strategy will allow you to:
- Manage extreme surges or drops in demand, navigate risk, deploy instant innovation, and optimize costs. Strategies should focus on creating cloud-native and multi-cloud environments to build redundancies and resilience into the architecture.
- Access your applications anywhere and on any device. That requires an application modernization strategy to migrate all enterprise applications to the cloud, and to leverage cloud resilience capabilities. Where applications are sourced from SaaS providers, you should review their own resilience features.
- Plan how to enable reliable, secure, and ubiquitous remote network connectivity for all workers. That requires reviewing and upgrading your network for maximum connectivity.
- Secure remote access from multiple sites while ensuring workers can still access what they need with ease. That requirement demands a Zero Trust model for multi-cloud solutions, individually owned devices, and third-party technologies. Identity access and multi-factor authentication can help secure access, while using cloud-native browser-based approaches can help make the user experience simple and fast.
- Leverage and access all types of data through all other components of the enterprise resilience strategy, focusing on data access and availability.
- Identify how best to deploy and scale the tools that team members need to get their jobs done and drive synergies across a connected workforce.
When these elements are brought together, CIOs can help create a truly dynamic enterprise. This was certainly our own experience here at Accenture during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Once it became clear that we would need to enable remote working at scale, we were able to seamlessly transition employees from our delivery centers and client sites to work from home in just one week. Precisely because we had put in place an integrated cloud-first resilience strategy, our people were able to get up and running rapidly and with complete access to the applications, tools, and infrastructure they required. Throughout the process we were able to maintain our committed client service levels.
A Roadmap to Resilience
As CIOs look to pivot to this new and more complete approach to building resilience, they will be coming from different places in the journey depending on their existing business strategy and investments.
The good news is that this journey does not need to be undertaken in one swoop. CIOs can start with the quick wins, such as identifying and deploying the right collaboration tools, before moving on to longer-term processes, such as how best to migrate applications to the cloud and embrace cloud-native models. The starting point should be a resilience roadmap so you can plan when best to address the various dimensions of your strategy. This needs to be supported by a focus on your people to ensure they are able to leverage new technologies to their fullest and understand how to thrive in their work no matter where they are.
Resilience is Differentiation
Identifying what needs to change and putting in place an effective resilience strategy is now a critical business differentiator. In the past, business resilience was about doing the best in tough times, and often CIOs’ focus was on robust oversight and control to ensure that there were security breaches while business-as-usual was disrupted. Now the aim needs to be around enabling people, processes, and technology to continue to deliver complete value no matter what. CIOs that enable seamless and continual adaptability will be putting their businesses on the right track to success and once again raising their strategic importance to the C-suite and the business as a whole.