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By now it’s become apparent just how woefully inadequate the business continuity plans most organizations had in place, if they existed at all, were prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Most organizations assume a level of disruption that would last, at most, a few days in the wake of, for example, a hurricane. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it painfully clear that the level of disruption a business now needs to be able to withstand can reach previously unimagined levels of scale.

In many cases, the business continuity plans organizations might have had in place largely existed in binders on a shelf somewhere in the office. With almost every employee working from home, it quickly became apparent that not only were those binders inaccessible, the technology already available had made many of the instructions and processes employees were supposed to follow obsolete. In fact, most employees simply fired up video conferencing platforms to collaboratively figure out what to do next, on the fly, and with predictably mixed results.

The challenge now is to learn from recent events to figure out how to create a significantly more agile business continuity plan. For example, it’s abundantly clear employees now prefer to be informed about what do using video. That means there’s now a significant opportunity for organizations to employ a platform such as Brightcove to enable organizations to video record their business continuity plans in a way that can be easily distributed in the event of a crisis. Demand for the Brightcove’s service is now reaching a level that Brightcove is out recruiting channel partners that have business continuity practices, says Rick Hanson, chief revenue officer for Brightcove.

Communications, of course, needs to extend well beyond the four-walls of the business. Organizations must to be able to proactively reach out to customers using a variety of communications channels. In fact, more than a few of the timelines for nascent digital business initiatives are now being accelerated as those projects become incorporated within what are now high-priority efforts to modernize business continuity plans.

At the other end of the spectrum, organizations need to communicate with suppliers that may not be able to deliver a critical component because of a COVID-19 lockdown. Conversely, it’s just as likely an organization may need to cancel an order because demand for the products and services they sell have suddenly declined.

What will happen next?

Just as significantly, many businesses will soon be entering the next phase of this crisis. After shutting down many activities, they will be looking to restart many processes once each state determines to its satisfaction that business can return to some semblance of normalcy. It’s now only a matter of time before most business processes are re-engineered in one way or another to become more resilient.

Whether it’s simply replacing virtual private networks (VPNs) with software-defined wide area networks (SD-WANs), or simply moving more workloads to the cloud, no aspect of IT will be left unchanged by the COVID-19 pandemic. The challenge and opportunity for managed service providers (MSPs) is to determine which of those aspects is now better delivered as a service provided by them versus being managed by internal IT teams that are not likely to be as agile.

Photo: Peshkova / Shutterstock

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Mike Vizard

Posted by Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications including InfoWorld, eWeek, CRN, Baseline, ComputerWorld, TMCNet, and Digital Review. He currently blogs for IT Business Edge and contributes to CIOinsight, The Channel Insider, Programmableweb and Slashdot. Mike blogs about emerging cloud technology for Smarter MSP.

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