From just in time to just in case
Is the pandemic a reset button? A pause button? Maybe a stop button? The corona crisis is more of a forward button. Trends that I expected in 2030 or 2035 are suddenly already a reality. Happened in days that we thought would happen in ten years, just look at working from home and digital meetings.
The virus has also partially shut down the corporate immune system. We see that effort we all spent for many years is changed within one or two weeks.
Businesses are working hard on more shock-resistant supply lines, they will permanently think differently about travel distances and digital services. They want to be much less dependent on distant suppliers. The keywords that always sound are: online, sustainable, local, buffers, deglobalization, shock resistance. The business model is changing from just in time to just in case.
The digital future is now
Almost everyone agrees that the crisis is giving a lasting impulse to digitization. But how much of that digitization remains after the crisis? Twitter and Facebook want to completely abolish the office for a significant part of their employees. Indian company Tata Consultancy Services thinks three-quarters of its employees will work from home by 2025.
Many other companies expect that working from home will remain the standard for around 15 percent of the work, I expect that digitization will make a difference for all kinds of work processes. “It has major implications for cloud and cyber security, as well as ethical issues such as privacy and data protection.”
I also see a surprising side effect of the mass working from home: employers suddenly have to become more aware of the well-being of their employees who work from home in new and sometimes difficult circumstances.
The crisis accelerates the transition to digital sales channels – logical with all lockdowns. You could already order a Tesla completely online, now. Now almost all manufacturers are busy making everything digital. You can now see ideas that were already a good idea accelerating. Partly from an overreaction – the new normal is becoming more digital, but not entirely digital.
I think there is a good way to assess whether a process will remain digital even after the crisis. If the feeling is positive on both sides of the transaction, it will remain. For certain conversations, doctors and patients both prefer to feed them remotely. For technical inspection services, it now appears how strange it actually was that people had to get on an airplane while they turned out to work excellently in virtual reality or augmented reality.
But besides the optimism about sustainability, digitization and the decision speed, it is obvious that this shock will also cause a lot of damage.
What we are experiencing now is something that we have not seen in the last eighty years. There is also a strong possibility that this will be a regressive crisis. So a crisis that destroys more than it creates. If things turn out differently than multinationals and their advisers currently hope, the pandemic could also rewind time instead of moving forward.
My advice is to reconsider the recommendations below and develop the strategies again:
- Ensuring good cyber security measures now is the best way to address the cyber threat.
- Consider incorporating the following proactive strategies:
- Review the business continuity plans and procedures.
- Ensure that systems, including (virtual) networks and firewalls, are up to date with the most recent security patches.
- Increase the cyber security measures in anticipation of the higher demand on remote access technologies and test them ahead of time.
- Ensure that work devices, such as laptops and mobile phones, are secure.
- Implement multi-factor authentication for remote access systems and resources (including cloud services).
- Ensure protection against Denial of Service (DoS) threats.
- Ensure companies and people are informed and educated in cyber security practices, such as detecting socially-engineered messages.
- Ensure people working from home have physical security measures in place. This minimizes the risk that information may be accessed, used, modified or removed from the premises without authorization.