Before COVID-19, most companies had a multi-year digital transformation plan in place. But the outbreak forced business leaders to implement these almost overnight, to keep their businesses running during lockdown and prepare to resume operations in a new post-pandemic reality.
In such unique and rapidly evolving circumstances, it’s highly challenging to balance what is best for the company and its employees, while still delivering an excellent customer experience. To ensure long-term operational resilience, it’s critical CIOs find the right tools to preserve business continuity in this ‘new normal’. New digital solutions and modern analytics are playing an increasingly critical role.
Like all companies, we at Iron Mountain have had to change the way we operate. Our teams are predominantly working from home, business travel has ground to a halt, and we are finding new ways to engage with clients screen-to-screen.
We have also flexed our offering to deliver new solutions – helping customers facilitate the changes required to get back to work and back on track, and advising on how they can fill gaps in their policies and programs as they transform to a more digital way of working. Our customers’ priorities in terms of support for post-COVID digital transformation can be broadly be grouped into four critical areas:
Secure data access for a growing remote workforce
According to Gartner, our ‘new normal’ will see three quarters of companies move at least 5% of their previously on-site workforce to permanently remote positions. This is confirmed by what we are seeing. All our customers are reassessing their processes to implement a more permanent solution for combined office-based and remote-working. This means giving remote employees easy and secure access to records and productivity tools while minimizing the potential for compliance or cybersecurity issues.
Enabling new ways of working over the longer term, of course, has major implications for IT departments. Fortunately, we can help in several ways. Our technology allows us to quickly transform physical records to digital. We offer a virtual mailroom service, opening, scanning and distributing mail electronically to remote workers. We are helping clients secure valuable data on corporate devices with services such as image on demand, reducing the reliance on potentially unsecured physical deliveries to home offices, and offering remote wipe technology to protect sensitive data should home burglaries become an increasing issue. We also support with compliance throughout information lifecycle management, including the secure processing of screening and sanitation records.
Adjust physical workplaces to our new reality
New regulations require businesses to limit contact in workplaces, making space a key concern. Unfortunately, there are very few cases where existing office layouts will work from a social distancing perspective, even if part of the workforce works permanently from home. As such, we are working with customers to help them flex in various ways.
Firstly, we are assisting businesses in freeing-up space by assessing what to store or destroy, identifying records to digitize, providing temporary offsite storage for furniture and IT equipment, and providing offsite document management and data center colocation services. We have also been managing the refurb and resale of surplus IT equipment.
For businesses that are flexing up, meanwhile, we have been tapping into the second user market to purchase equipment cost-effectively and supply it on a short-term buy-back basis. Critically, we provide customers with a secure train of custody, as well as support with compliance throughout information lifecycle management – with a particular view to new, COVID-related obligations.
Maintain operational continuity
The pandemic has revealed gaps in most organizations’ disaster recovery and business continuity plans. Perhaps most importantly, it has highlighted a need to reduce our reliance on physical locations, provide new kinds of support for remote employees, and facilitate work asynchronously across multiple time zones.
As our customers navigate their way out of lockdown and prepare for a potential second wave, it is more critical than ever they maintain a robust operational continuity and emergency response plan, ensuring they are equipped to prosper and maintain a healthy workforce in this new reality.
In all of the markets where we operate, we are helping client teams implement a more rigorous approach to risk management and helping ensure this is an integral part of their strategy moving forwards. These services range from helping them develop a comprehensive business continuity and emergency response plan, to updating data management strategy and automating workflows, strengthening data protection and IT security, and ensuring compliance with regulatory obligations. We also conduct advanced data mining with the help of Machine Learning tools to uncover new revenue stream opportunities and cost savings.
Strengthen supply chains
Over the past few months, most organizations dependent on a supply chain have experienced disruptions never before encountered. In some instances, demand for goods has exceeded supply chain capacity, whilst in others inventory has accumulated as production was interrupted, slowed or diverted to essential products. This meant that some businesses lacked the warehouse workers, transportation drivers and space to store inventory. Here again, Iron Mountain was able to help with solutions that help customers manage critical inventory with security, scale and speed. The services which have been most popular include receipt of stock directly from suppliers, inventory pick-up and delivery to and from customer sites, and temporary storage of excess inventory.
- Stuart Bernard, Regional Vice President, Global Digital Solutions, EMEA at Iron Mountain.
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