Business continuity in times of disruption

Times have changed.
“Virus” is a word that the technology space has borrowed for decades, but it has been reclaimed through the shock of COVID-19. Our industry has been talking about disruption and transformation for several years, but we now see what it looks like in the real world and how it makes business resilience and agility a necessity.

At the start of 2020, few of us anticipated that our business continuity plans would be tested in such a dramatic way.

A crisis focuses the mind, and our immediate priorities have been very clear: first and foremost, the health and well-being of all our people and also our ability to continue to support our customers and partners who rely on our solutions and services, our infrastructure and our network.

For the Middle East, the challenges of COVID-19 have been amplified by the sudden impact on key industries, such as aviation, transport and logistics, retail and hospitality, and set against the background of sharply lower oil prices.

On the African continent, countries are moving from readiness to response in anticipation of the broader impacts of the pandemic, which is still in its early stages there. COVID-19 has touched all regions of the world, and every economy in Africa is likely to face similar challenges.

Governments and health authorities have responded quickly and decisively, adopting measures to ensure communities stay safe and to maintain the continuity of the essential services on which we all rely.

We pay tribute to all the people on the frontline of the fight against the pandemic, including healthcare professionals and all the ancillary staff working to support them. And we offer our sympathies to all those team members, customers and partners whose family or friends may have been directly affected by COVID-19.

Our immediate response in social distancing and a shift to remote working has quickly developed into a solid team collaboration that has ensured our ability to continue operations across all of our Major Service Centers, while our customer-facing teams are continuing to support customers on a global scale.

We are helping our customers overcome challenges by adapting solutions and network capabilities where necessary and especially in the face of the global surge in demand for teleworking, collaboration services, remote access and capacity expansion for network and contact centers. The unique value of a secure global network on which regional and international connectivity depends has never been more apparent. Today’s new teleworking world is strewn with cyber threats, and Orange Cyberdefense is working 24/7 to protect IT infrastructure and data and to connect our customers’ operations safely, wherever they are.

I would like to thank all the Orange Business Services teams in making this transition as smooth and efficient as possible. As a network-native global organization, we have been able to transition our customers quickly, and our own daily operations continue uninterrupted, although inevitably with some inconvenience at times.

The pandemic will pass, but its impacts and the associated risk of ongoing disruption will remain. This means we can cautiously start to look ahead at recovery. The future may be very different for many companies, as business models need to be re-engineered, re-invented or even discarded. Most probably, the only certainty will be accelerated digital transformation and a greater focus on business sustainability capable of withstanding future shocks. This means more digital creativity and includes more innovation around our global network, with a much greater emphasis on co-creation and collaboration.

From an operating perspective, companies will review their business models and look at ways to digitally transform while incorporating greater resilience and sustainability, as business continuity rises to the top of the corporate agenda. This means looking at the entire business ecosystem and identifying partners who can provide robust services and solutions, globally.

We expect to see faster adoption of digital solutions and a redesign of the workspace, with an impact on the way individuals work, and work together remotely. We are already seeing acceleration in demand for and reliance on connectivity and network services, along with security, collaboration and communications solutions, and conferencing services. Designed to be productivity enablers, these new collaborative tools, hubs and devices create new ways of working and will have a positive impact on business process efficiency in the longer term.

During a time of crisis, we learn more about ourselves and who we can rely on; however, our ultimate aim remains the same: to be the trusted digital partner of choice, whatever the circumstances.

Sahem Azzam
Sahem Azzam

Sahem Azzam is VP Middle East & Africa at Orange Business Services. He is an experienced senior business leader with extensive experience in the Middle East region and emerging markets and a strong track record of achievement in the information technology and services industry. Sahem has developed special interest and expertise in business and sales management leadership, partner management, go-to-market strategy development, infrastructure services, IoT, Big Data, Smart Cities, Blockchain and IT service management.