Only 10 pc organisations were systems resilient before COVID-19, says Ramnath Venkataraman of Accenture

Ramnath Venkataraman of Accenture Technology on how companies’ technology strategies directly impact their business operations and underlying systems during a major disruption or crisis.

Accenture is one the world’s largest IT services company and it has just released its latest report — COVID-19: Systems resilience in times of unprecedented disruption — in response to the global coronavirus crisis and the actions organisations must take – now, and in the future – to successfully navigate the crisis and emerge stronger.

According to Accenture’s Future Systems research survey of 8,300 companies conducted before the COVID-19 crisis, only the top 10 percent of the companies had cracked the code on systems resilience. The research also shows a massive difference in resilience between leaders and their average peers within an industry. For example, in the retail industry, the leaders’ resilience score is 45 percent more than that of an average company in that industry.

The term ‘systems resilience’ describes an organisation’s ability to operate during a major disruption of crisis, with minimal impact on critical business and operational process. With organisations currently operating under a new reality, it is crucial to understand system vulnerabilities and take swift and informed action, to enhance the stability of their critical business operations and underlying systems.

Accenture’s latest POV defines six building blocks that enable a quick and reliable response to critical system vulnerabilities. With this background, Ramnath Venkataraman, Lead – Integrated Global Services, Accenture Technology discusses with YourStory how a company’s technology strategies directly impact its business operations and underlying systems during a major disruption or crisis.

Outlining the building blocks, he also tells everyone about the actions that need to be taken next, and the importance of establishing long-term strategies for greater pliability.

Ramnath Venkataraman leads Accenture’s Integrated Global Services organisation for Technology. This includes overseeing more than 50 Advanced Technology Centers around the world, global sales and solution-shaping for technology, and driving market-leading assets like myConcerto, myNav, and myWizard.

He joined Accenture in 1995, and has extensive experience working with a variety of clients in multiple industries across strategy, consulting, technology transformation, and talent transformation.

Here are the excerpts of the interview:

YourStory (YS): Accenture talks about the‘Now’ and ‘Next’ approach, why is it important during the pandemic?

Ramanath Venkataraman (RV): The way this pandemic has impacted things is unprecedented. It has impacted everyone and business. Organisations need to build resistance. There are five questions that every business is asking.

  1. How do you ensure business continuity?
  2. How do you deal with surges and drops?
  3. How do you work remotely and securely?
  4. How does one use data on a real-time basis?
  5. How do you ensure productivity in a remote setting of work?
These are the five things that they have to keep in mind to address the ‘now’ and ‘next’ approach. Our research shows not more than 10 percent are ready for this approach and we have this data from 8,300 companies. 90 percent are not ready to make that change and can only do so with a framework.

There are six building blocks, so to speak, for their critical business. For example, a retail business needs to ensure that its distribution centre is always running. Critical systems that support these distribution centres need to be identified.

The building blocks that one needs to identify are:

  • Elastic Digital Workplace will unlock the wealth of opportunities by protecting its people and productivity, when you need to become fully remote overnight.
  • Hyper Automation will mitigate the impact of systems disruption, free up human resource capacity, and streamline IT workforce management.
  • Architecture and Performance Engineering will quickly resolve critical systems availability and performance issues.
  • Cloud Acceleration and Optimisation to manage risk, deploy instant innovation, and optimise cloud performance and cost.
  • Service Continuity to support critical in-flight services or deliver new IT projects.
  • Cybersecurity to secure customers, people and systems, wherever they are.

Ramnath Venkataraman

YS: Is everybody prepared for this change?

RV: There will be leaders and laggards. Based on C-Suite responses, we wanted to see how they brought a cultural change in their organisations. None of them had anticipated the pandemic but they were cognizant of those building blocks to be resilient.

The classic example was Accenture; we were ready for 90 percent work from home thanks to the processes that make a resilient company. The NHS in the UK had to be in Microsoft Teams and got them ready for the surge in healthcare queries. We worked with several healthcare and retail companies in the US to help them handle this surge in volumes. We helped them transition to digital commerce.

Businesses need to maintain social connections even in these times of physical distancing. In North America, this has led to a huge culture change. Take a retailer, for example, they were always dependent on physical channels. We helped them to go digital and they had a 400 percent surge in digital sales.

They were quick enough to move to digital and that helped. Yes, manufacturing is coming back, however, there was a significant drop in volumes and they are going through a state of preparedness.

YS: What about startups, cloud, and automation? Will there be an impact on the business?

RV: The startup ecosystem is always doing interesting things and collaboration is the key because agility and innovation is their forte. We are offering design thinking workshops across the world to make sure that ideas become minimum viable products.

Startups can scale MVPs and startups are the critical lynchpins in the ecosystem.

If you think about leaders and laggards, everybody who is a leader is significantly on the cloud. If you look at the overall volumes, only 20 to 25 percent of companies are on the cloud. What took five years to move to the cloud has suddenly led companies to believe in the nimbleness of the cloud.

Currently, companies are moving faster because they want to leverage micro-services and move to the cloud fast. Usage of SaaS will accelerate further.

First, cybersecurity is the front and centre as the mindset is concerned. You need to have a pervasive culture that this is on top of everybody’s mind. Now, the strategy should be in your DNA while moving to the cloud. There should be an organisational top-down approach when it comes to cybersecurity.

Automation, on the other hand, will accelerate and as humans, we need to tweak our skills and be relevant. Human plus machine collaborations are the future.

Edited by Kanishk Singh


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