Business Continuity , CXO / IT Leadership

The Making of a Resilient Enterprise: A CIO's Perspective

SEA Summit: Ruwanthi Fernando and Atif Najam Discuss Pillars of Business Resilience
The Making of a Resilient Enterprise: A CIO's Perspective
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In the face of constant disruptions and an evolving business landscape, enterprises must be resilient to overcome challenges, embrace change and sustain growth. At the Southeast Asia Summit organized by Information Security Media Group, panelists Ruwanthi Fernando, chief information and process officer, Hela Clothing, and Atif Najam, former chief information officer, Gatronova group, shared their insights on the crucial role of CIOs in building and leading resilient enterprises.

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"People, technology and processes are the core of resilience. We must mold and manage our people within the technology department and the rest of the business to react positively to change," Fernando said.

On the technology front, challenges such as moving from older systems to more flexible ones, managing growing data and ensuring compliance with regulations such as the GDPR should be part of the business continuity strategy. "One of the biggest challenges we face as CIOs is making sure data is available in the form of dashboards while adhering to privacy and compliance requirements," she said.

Entities that excel when it comes to resiliency have shown they are able to walk the walk, not just talk the talk, Fernando said. "You can't just say resiliency is an imperative, you have to convert it to an agenda," she said.

Ground Rules and Technological Adaptability

It is important to identify the main processes that technology should cover based on the company's environment, Najam said. "There is no single technology that solves all problems; it greatly depends on the business case and the expected outcomes," he said. While a cloud-first approach might be suitable for some, regulations may necessitate on-premises solutions. Enterprises today also build tech stacks around microservices for scalability and agility, along with Kubernetes and container systems for consolidated cloud-based solutions. Choosing the right technology requires a thorough understanding of the specific needs and constraints of the organization.

There is a high price to pay when organizations are not resilient. According to a whitepaper published by World Economic Forum in collaboration with McKinsey & Company, resilience themes can significantly influence GDP in the short and long term, causing a decrease of up to 8% or an increase of up to 15%.

The Role of Cloud in Enabling Resilience

For Sri Lanka-based Hela Clothing, cloud has supercharged their digital transformation. Moving to the cloud reduced the need for a large team to manage on-premises infrastructure and allowed for more cost-effective and scalable solutions. "When we did our SAP S/4HANA fashion implementation, we noticed that starting on the cloud allowed us to begin with lower infrastructure costs and scale up as needed," Fernando said.

The agility and flexibility to adjust sizing as needed are critical for resilience. "You can upscale or downscale based on growth, and this is why resilience is important. In case of any economic or external risks, we are prepared to run our operations, and our IT services are equipped to meet business demands," she said.

Project Digital and Organizational Overhaul

Najam shared another example of building resilience. The Gatronova Group re-evaluated their organization from a cloud-first approach, ensuring processes were digital-ready and capable of responding to black swan events and uncertainties. "We went through a complete people transformation, aligning departments and structures with the SAP processes we recently implemented, along with enhancing our cybersecurity posture," Najam said.

Data and Decision-Making in Resilient Enterprises

Integrating technology to connect with suppliers and customers is crucial for mitigating risks and enhancing collaboration. "Accurate and agile information through integrations is crucial for resilience," Fernando said. Hela Clothing has automated plant and manufacturing flows to provide real-time visibility and efficiency, ensuring data availability for the business to recalibrate and move swiftly in response to capacity issues.

"Security, data governance and skilled talent are the fulcrum of any resilient strategy," Najam said. Data is the new oil, but it needs to be refined to be valuable. Proper data governance and management are crucial for high-confidence analytics.

Building strong partnerships with vendors and customers is also essential for a resilient organization. "Partners who bring value to your organization are vital. They can fill talent gaps more efficiently than hiring new resources. Forging good partnerships is essential for mutual benefit and resilience," Najam said.

Checklist for Building a Resilient Enterprise

  • Cybersecurity: Ensure your cybersecurity posture is robust with multiple levels of defense to block, mitigate and respond to incidents quickly.
  • Data Governance: Implement proper data classification and management processes to ensure data accuracy and reliability for decision-making.
  • Talent Management: Invest in skilled talent to manage systems and processes effectively, ensuring the organization can adapt and respond to challenges.
  • Outsourcing and Partnerships: Identify areas that can be outsourced to enhance efficiency and collaborate with value-adding partners to fill resource gaps quickly.

The ability to adapt and respond to challenges not only safeguards operations but also drives economic growth, according to Fernando and Najam. By prioritizing resilience, businesses can navigate uncertainties and position themselves for sustainable success in an ever-evolving landscape.

About the Author

Sandhya Michu

Sandhya Michu

Senior Assistant Editor - Editorial, ISMG

Michu is an experienced professional with over 10 years of expertise in the ICT industry. She has worked with leading media groups such as Cybermedia, 9.9 media and The Indian Express. Michu's focus areas include enterprise technology and government tech initiatives.

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