A defining challenge of 2020 is that businesses were drawn very quickly into making wholesale changes to their workplaces and ways of work. Under these circumstances, tools and decisions that enabled a degree of business continuity were ‘good enough’, and there wasn’t time to think about what comes next.

This is changing. The thinking in many business circles right now has shifted from how to survive to how to thrive in this new world. See the latest networking trends by attending the webinar and reading the report.

In order to thrive, a more resilient IT operating model is needed – one that enables businesses to adjust or adapt to new situations and recover quickly.

Technology systems will play a crucial role, just as they already have done during the pandemic response. As we saw, businesses with strong technology platforms found themselves on a much better footing to create some continuity in their operations. But business continuity as an endgame is no longer ‘good enough’. We need to move from a world of business continuity to one of business resilience.

With so much residual uncertainty about when and how things will get back to normal, or what the next normal will look like, the topic of resilience is a critically important one. And it makes sense to rebuild operations with a much more resilient outlook.

Technology has also progressed to the point that platform-based approaches exist to create this resiliency, agility and flexibility for businesses.

Through years of effort, Cisco has built a blueprint for business resilience: the architecture, business policies and IT operating model to help you rebuild and re-emerge stronger than ever.

The guiding principles

In our discussions with customers and partners, we identified three guiding principles to creating a more resilient technology infrastructure for the next normal. These are:

  1. No compromise

There should be no compromise made to safety, security, productivity and experience in this new working environment. Whilst we must ensure remote workers stay cyber secure, safe and healthy, this should not come at the expense of experience or productivity.

  1. Quickly rebalancing

Businesses need to think about their ability to shift and scale IT capacity, capability and resources to meet evolving demands for applications or services. The pace of change is expected to quicken, and this needs to flow through to the operating environment quickly as well.

  1. Acting fast on insights

With people working remotely and in a distributed manner, businesses need to be able to improve certain processes and develop new capabilities quickly. This will necessitate greater adoption and use of automation, analytics and insights to understand the changes that need to be made and to quickly get them in place.

As businesses, we agree that this describes where we want to get to. Now, it becomes a matter of how we get there.

Your blueprint for change

We know the future workplace will be a hybrid of in-office and at-home workers, and we need to optimise for that. This is not a simple problem to solve.

In a dynamic hybrid environment where people are spread across many locations and connections but all need the same experience, the ‘building blocks’ for optimisation – policies, network segmentations and tooling – are complex.

That’s because distributed workers – in an office, at home, or anywhere in between – are consuming distributed enterprise applications hosted in a data centre or in multiple clouds.

The challenge is how to connect the two to create an optimal cloud-first environment to support this distributed workforce.

Technology solutions can help to provide that experience, allowing people to work securely from anywhere and to collaborate with each other from any device. It is likely that businesses have made a start in these areas, if not are well on the path to substantially solving for them.

Capabilities that may be less-developed, but are no less important, are the ability to manage from anywhere, and to maximise the experience and productivity of distributed workers as they consume a mix of applications. For applications across multiple clouds, businesses must also optimise the costs of running these applications, improve cloud connectivity to home or workplace for performance, and wrap cloud security around all of that.

The future of management is one that is driven by analytics and artificial intelligence.

Cisco has been on this path for some time through intent-based networking (IBN). We’ve moved more into automation, analytics and controller-based architectures, supported by AI/ML engines. We’ve embedded intelligence into our security platforms and built out AIOps capabilities, which can recommend how to address events or situations as they arise. Our DNA-Center, vManage and Intersight dashboard, together with AppDynamics and ThousandEyes, bring additional layers of intelligence and visibility.

The only way businesses can enable the kind of no-compromise flexibility to shift capacity, automate management and develop new capabilities – all cornerstones of a Resilient Enterprise – is to use these technologies as part of an integrated platform.

While we realise this may be quite overwhelming, you can start with a few key use cases that’s critical to your business, whether it’s return to workplace, secure remote work, flexible multicloud for agile workloads. Cisco has developed resources including questions, key considerations and engagement models to help businesses make a start and map their path to resilience. I would also strongly encourage you to watch our Cisco Business Resilience On-Demand Summit to learn more and attend our financial services use case webinar to help you get started.

Once you have retooled into a Resilient Enterprise, it becomes possible to reimagine your operations, to digitally transform, create new business models and fully adjust to the new normal.

For more, including the five trends driving agility and resilience in times of disruption, read the ‘Business Resilience Special Edition’ of Cisco’s 2021 Global Networking Trends Report.

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