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Written by Karthikeyan Natarajan
on 14 May 2020

Challenging. Demanding. Volatile. These are some of the words we hear to describe the current environment as the world deals with the COVID-19 pandemic. This sentiment may not be unfounded because not since the Great Depression and the two World Wars have we witnessed a humanitarian and economic crisis of this magnitude.


That being said, this is an opportune moment as any to recall and take inspiration from Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, who said, "When we tackle obstacles, we find hidden reserves of courage and resilience we did not know we had. And it is only when we are faced with failure do we realize that these resources were always there within us. We only need to find them and move on with our lives."

This is precisely what we did at Cyient. We dug in our heels and resolved to get our operations back on its feet while being cognizant of the unique and critical responsibility we have toward our associates, customers, and the community.

 

But what helped us to get back on our feet so quickly?

Cyient's Business Continuity Framework, supported by three key fundamentals, i.e., AGILE culture, flexible policies, and associate outreach programs, helped us bounce back in record time.

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 Business Continuity Framework

 

Enablement: To ensure the safety of our associates, we moved swiftly to enable work from home capability across business units even before the countrywide lockdown was announced. This involved delivering laptops, desktops, UPS, internet dongles to our associates at their homes. Foreseeing the possibility of an extended lockdown, our teams intensified their efforts to procure more hardware. They liaised with respective IT managers for configuring BU-specific software—where required—on employees' own devices. Additionally, to ensure continued productivity, we also deployed several digital tools, including Skype for Business, Microsoft Teams, and Cisco WebEx.

Security: Securing data in a remote working environment is a priority for us and our clients. To ensure our associates had a seamless user experience and connection to all applications and data securely, we adopted multiple VPN solutions based on customers' security requirements and infrastructure dependencies. Other security controls included installing antivirus and antimalware, data loss prevention software on workstations, encrypting disk drives, and other measures to prevent the transfer of data. And to ensure adherence to security measures, we have rolled out stringent third-party assessment tools for benchmarking and rating our security architecture.

Delivery Management: As we geared up for remote working and stepped up the operational cadence, we introduced several measures to ensure continued productivity and quality of delivery. Once again, very proud to share that our business continuity processes have ensured a 90% productivity with ongoing efforts to enhance it further. Additionally, we have deployed several project management best practices and collaborative approaches to engage with customers to ensure seamless delivery.

 

People policies and measures

To keep our associates engaged during such trying times, our team managers and HR business partners are actively involved in a comprehensive associate outreach program. This includes staying connected with associates on their well-being to delivering critical medicines and essentials at their doorstep in some cases. We have also set up a daily monitoring system to track the safety of our associates around the world. This is further backed by a global helpdesk where associates can report any incident at work, get guidance on steps to take if they feel unwell, and receive general advice and support.

For continuity of critical work and deliveries that required associates to work from our premises, our teams are actively engaged with the federal and state authorities to ensure adherence to all rules and regulations. With the health and safety of these associates as a top priority, we have taken several steps that include transport facility to and from their homes, rotating schedules to reduce the number of people in a single location and to maintain social distancing, as well as other measures to provide a safe, hygienic, and conducive work environment.

 

Customer-centricity

As our global crisis response team enabled a robust business continuity framework to ensure minimal disruption for our associates and customers, it was heartening to see our customers validating and appreciating our well-thought and orchestrated efforts. The CEO of VolkerWessels Telecom sent a personal video message to all our associates who have worked at a war-footing to ensure smooth operations for VWT with minimal disruption. We have received similar appreciation from our Fortune 500 customers across industries, and a common thread that runs through all of these messages is the recognition of our teams' efforts to go above and beyond to fulfill their commitments.

 

Community focus

At the time of writing this piece, we have reopened our design-led manufacturing facilities in Mysore, India, to manufacture components for critical medical equipment. This includes partnering with Molbio Diagnostics to build COVID-19 testing devices and chips, as well as X-ray machines for GE healthcare. We are also actively engaged with the Telangana State Police to provide drone technology for active surveillance and implementation of the lockdown and are actively exploring other ways to help in the fight against this pandemic.

 

What next—how do we prepare for when this is over?

As we move forward with cautious optimism, what will the world look like once all this is over? How will we approach emerging complexities and prepare for such situations in the "new normal"?

Speed will be the critical differentiator: There is a certain change in the demands and expectations from across stakeholders in the industry, from customers and partners to regulatory bodies and investors. This will place increased pressure on businesses to evolve and accommodate these priorities, and success will come to those who are able to keep pace.

Focus on disruptive technologies will increase: Automation, innovative business models, scientific developments, and digitization are the new age catalysts causing disruption. In such a scenario, we anticipate emerging technologies such as machine learning, the Internet of Things, and robotics to gain prominence and become the focal point in the months and years to come.

Digital will drive the change: Organizations will focus on building and nurturing complex relationships, collaborate, and rapidly engage with customers and partners in innovative ways. The increased volume, transparency, and distribution of data will set the base for increased and transparent communication.

So, while we understand that there is still some way to go, what we have achieved in the last few weeks has been nothing short of remarkable. From less than 1% associates working from home at the start of the lockdown to 93% today, we continue to deliver projects without compromising on the safety of our associates, their family, or our customer data. This meant providing 25,000 devices to 10,000 associates across eight cities that eventually led to about two million hours of WFH enabled over the last five weeks.

 

This feat was possible through collaboration and diligent actions on the part of several teams. And one pattern that stood out was a disciplined and resilient approach, well-supported by our technology backbone. So, before I sign off, a note of gratitude to all our associates who have stood shoulder to shoulder with us during such difficult times, and to our customers, who have shown faith in our ability to deliver. If we continue in earnest what we have started, as partners and collaborators, I do believe we can come out of this stronger and better.

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