Artūras Milašauskas, Sales Director at Novian Technologies
Lost data, a broken website or e-shop, or a business operations disrupted by an IT malfunction. These scenarios are hardly surprising, but nowadays, it is becoming more and more difficult to tolerate such pauses in activity when digitalisation of the business and public sector is increasing. This is especially relevant as the IT and other processes in an organisation become more and more interconnected, thus increasing their vulnerabilities to each other. The result of such a problem can be a headache not only for IT, but for the whole organisation.
A digital advantage changes the culture of an organisation, bringing about a wide range of operational, competitive and other benefits. When a large part of our work involves digital tools that we, as a colleague, can incorporate into our work, our processes become more efficient and faster. But at the same time, we become more dependent on those tools.
How can your digital performance be restored?
Organisations often reach out to us when something serious has happened – a system has broken down or important functions are not working. Sometimes it is possible to quickly extinguish a fire and restore an organisation’s IT, but we often find that “clearing the rubble” is not enough – if the proper IT foundations, engineering and maintaining technical plans have not been taken care of, the IT system cannot be rebuilt, and will have to be recreated from scratch.
The second issue is how to quickly restore digitalised business processes, if such a scenario has not been foreseen and prepared for in advance.
Unfortunately, formalities such as insurance policy or contractual responsibilities with suppliers do not help in the rapid recovery of IT-related business processes, but just aid in settling potential losses. The problem is further complicated when there is a large-scale disaster, for which a company naturally does not have enough resources of their own, and needs a strong partner to solve it.
Therefore, it is clear that the old methods of IT management, where substantial IT investments are directed towards upgrading, without sufficient attention being paid to the overall hygiene of the digitalisation or to the synchronisation of business operations and IT, are no longer effective.
Why don’t organisations prepare for a crisis?
The main reason why IT crises hit organisations unexpectedly is that everything continues to run smoothly most of the time. As a result, nobody expects an emergency situation where the normal day-to-day functions are no longer working.
Paradoxically, even in times of crisis, there is often the expectation that “one button” will restore normal activity. Unfortunately, the problem is often much more complex and requires a comprehensive approach.
Another reason why organisations do not create back-up solutions is the financial aspect. Perhaps the most common fear is that back-ups will cost twice as much as the IT budget, which the organisation will not be able to afford. However, experience shows that extinguishing a fire and restoring business as usual, with the resulting reputational, operational and financial consequences, can be much more costly than implementing a back-up solution in advance.
Another reason is thinking that by moving to the cloud, everything will be taken care of. Unfortunately, the reality is different, as in emergency situations there are many specific issues that need to be dealt with that are not necessarily covered by a service contract. It is also possible that more than one organisation may be facing the same problem, so that when the system is being restored, there is competition to see which one will be taken care of first.
How it works in reality
Let’s take the example of a trading company. When the information system in the warehouse is disrupted, many activities come to a halt: nobody knows what goods are in the warehouse, where they need to be transported, where they need to be taken when they arrive, and who ordered them. Finally, it is no longer clear how to serve customers in response to such a situation. Because all the processes have been digitalised, the company operations simply don’t work without IT tools.
In a crisis, it is possible to keep certain parts of the IT operations in place – for example, the server rooms – and staff can continue to work remotely. But the operations will nonetheless come to a standstill, because certain IT processes linking the activities are no longer working.
In addition, it’s easy to imagine what will happen if a cyber-security vulnerability or disruption to an e-commerce or self-service website occurs. One thing they have in common is that instead of smooth operations, the situation is more like a scattered jigsaw puzzle.
Digitalisation therefore creates a new reality that also requires new rules of the game, for those who want to ensure a reliable digital experience. Namely, attention and resources need to be invested upfront in a back-up solution that can restore the company’s ability to operate normally.
Aiming for a resilient digital performance
For an organisation’s IT architecture to be resilient to a crisis, it is essential to understand the importance of IT and its implications for your business processes. A crisis can affect all parts of your digital operations, from the user’s day-to-day routine activities to the breakdown of information systems.
Therefore, there needs to be a common agreement across the organisation that preparing for such emergencies is essential, and it is important to outline everyone’s responsibilities and roles in the event of a crisis. The resilience of your IT tools is one of the critical elements here.
First and foremost, the company managers need to assign IT personnel to take care of the continuity of the organisation’s digital processes in advance, in order to avoid a potential crisis. Secondly, the IT team and managers need to work together to create a vision for their digital resilience. Thirdly, the organisation’s IT must be designed and developed with this vision in mind.
It is important to agree on measurable criteria and risks, as well as how long an organisation can be inactive and how much data it can afford to lose. To make this happen, it is needed to ensure that such an IT architecture is adequately funded. Thus, you need to know what tools are necessary and how much you will need to spend. And all of it needs to be regularly updated, in order for it to work on the day when the crisis happens.
In addition, an organisation’s IT operations will only work well when the hardware and the applications are aligned. That is why it is important to “connect” with the IT maintenance professionals and developers. Often, developers can restore a particular software, but they don’t interact with the infrastructure staff and their commitment to your business processes even may differ. That’s why focusing on this relationship is important, both in everyday life and in times of crisis.
In conclusion, there’s an old truth: to deal effectively with a crisis, you need to prepare for it in advance. A strong IT architecture with a defence plan is the key to getting your organisation’s IT up and running as quickly as possible in the event of a crisis.
That’s why, when we work with organisations, we focus on their core business functions. By understanding the technological nuances, we can then optimise the IT continuity tools and costs.
About the Novian group
Novian Technologies is part of Novian Group, whose companies provide technological, software and digitisation, as well as integrated IT solutions and services in these fields.
Novian Technologies is an expert in areas that include creating, maintaining and adapting IT infrastructure to new requirements, as well as supplying critical IT infrastructure maintenance services. The company’s service portfolio includes solutions related to high-performance computing devices and clusters, as well as open source cloud technologies, high-reliability data, archiving and more.
Novian’s corporate activities range from ensuring the smooth day-to-day running of IT infrastructure and software development on a city or national scale, to the development of information systems for particular sectors, as well as digitisation and artificial intelligence solutions. Novian group implements projects in fields that include private enterprises, e-government, e-health and e-taxation, among other areas.
The group’s companies are based in the Baltics, Norway and Moldova, from where they serve clients and implement projects across the globe. Between 2016 and 2022, the projects implemented by the Novian companies spanned more than 50 countries in Europe, Africa, Asia and America.
Source: project at vz.lt.