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Resilience-by-design: The new need for digitally connected world

Today we stand at a juncture where it has been unequivocally established that operating environments will only become more and more hyperconnected as businesses continue to adopt digital-first models.

The success of digital-first models and platforms is critically dependent on near real-time lossless transmission of data from a variety of endpoint devices including workstations, mobile phones as well as IoT devices.

Covid-19 pandemic has turned out to be a milestone event in the evolution of corporate communication networks, leading to adoption of large-scale remote enablement. This shift prompted organizations to adapt their communication networks to cater to a distributed environment, enabling employees to access corporate resources from a dynamic location. While this shift allowed flexibility, it added an additional layer of connectivity and thus introduced uncertainty pertaining to security and availability.

Whilst traditional business continuity and disaster recovery programs have been successful thus far in mitigating traditional continuity risks and responding to business disruptions emanating from well-known threat vectors. The notable shift in the risk landscape will require a significant uplift in the resilience philosophy.

Adopting a Resilience-by-Design philosophy embeds resilience into the core, covering aspects including work, workplace, workforce, technology as well as the extended enterprise. The philosophy promotes a built-in resilience design as opposed to a bolt-on approach, thereby achieving high levels of fault tolerance to unanticipated threats.

Key tenets

  • The philosophy encourages Single Point Failure (SPoF) Analysis at every step to identify potential disruptors throughout the value chain. The analysis is not only limited to equipment but also extends to people, public utilities, OEM & service providers, social, geo-political and regulatory climate.
  • The SPoF is further supported by Horizon Scanning and Risk Sensing to identify crisis indicators emerging from critical vulnerabilities, supply chain disruptions as well as events in the pervasive layer with a potential to disrupt communication services.
  • With enhanced visibility of potential disruptors, effective mitigation strategies and intuitive failover mechanisms can be built into the environment significantly enhancing the response and recovery capabilities.
  • As opposed to a periodic and planned testing program, resilience by design encourages to build an embedded, ongoing and intelligent stress testing building confidence in the communication network’s capability to withstand disruptions and unanticipated conditions.

The philosophy can be effectively adopted by user organizations as well as network service providers to build highly resilient communication networks thus ensuring high availibity to support time sensitive and data intensive operations. To build communications networks which are resilient by design, the following aspects needs to be considered:

  • Availability expectations of the underlying business. Customer obligations & regulatory requirements play a vital role in determining the resilience objectives.
  • Dependence on OEMs and service providers. Restrictions on notable component manufacturers as a result of a trade war have questioned long-term viability of existing business models.
  • Legal and regulatory compliances. Inadequate compliance could lead to severe penalties and in adverse cases revocation of license to operate.

While the philosophy provides a holistic model for resilience, being cognizant of the fluidity of the operating environment and the ever-evolving technology landscape is of paramount importance to embed resilience into the organizational culture.

Transition into the future at an accelerated pace would need leaders to view resilience with the critical lens much like security and privacy, at a time when availability emerges to be a key metric of competitive advantage.

The article is co-authored by Manoj Ajgaonkar, Associate Director, Deloitte India

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