Impact of Technology on Business Continuity During COVID-19

Impact of Technology on Business Continuity During COVID-19

Thirunesha Naidu (Management College of Southern Africa, South Africa) and Muhammad Hoque (Management College of Southern Africa, South Africa)
Copyright: © 2023 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-5727-6.ch009
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Digital technology has developed over the years with numerous innovations that have improved how we live, communicate, and work. In business, such innovations have occurred predominantly at larger or newer organizations or e-commerce companies as resources are required to design, implement, and maintain bespoke digital technology solutions while other commercially available solutions and their integration into business operations have not been favored over the more traditional work methods. A business continuity plan is established when a company needs to quickly recover to maintain business operations following a disruption such as a pandemic. In this chapter, various business continuity planning initiatives that may occur during a pandemic, the types of digital technologies used by businesses, and their impact on business continuity during such occurrences are discussed. Recommendations are provided herein for businesses to continue successfully in the volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA) of this world.
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The global COVID-19 pandemic lockdown disrupted business operations as many companies had to remain closed or only provide essential goods and services. Such disruptions should have been identified during the business continuity planning process. However, without the consideration of appropriate digital technology, companies would have had no choice but to remain closed if their business continuity plan failed to meet the requirements promulgated for social distancing and working from home. The chapter details the literature reviewed for business continuity planning during a pandemic, the types of digital technologies used by businesses and their impact on business continuity during a pandemic.

The COVID-19 Pandemic

COVID-19 is a recent virus outbreak that was first identified in Wuhan, China in December 2019. The COVID-19 virus causes the coronavirus disease that can lead to severe illness and in some cases death (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020). The World Health Organization characterized the outbreak as a pandemic on 11 March 2020 as the number of infections increased. At the time there were more than 118 000 infected cases in 114 countries and 4 291 deaths (World Health Organization, 2020). As the virus spread, it has impacted economies and businesses so nations have attempted to contain the spread of the virus with lockdown measures (Jones, Palumbo & Brown, 2021).

Pandemics as an Interruptive Disaster

Cambridge University (2021) defines a pandemic as “… a disease that exists in almost all of an area or almost all of a group of people, animals or plants”. Wallace and Webber (2017) indicate that pandemics differ from sudden disasters as these often last for extended periods as compared to other natural disasters such as hurricanes or severe snowstorms. Some of the techniques that are recommended for inclusion in the business continuity plan for a pandemic are social distancing, sanitation, communication, and timing. Pandemics faced in recent times include the Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), Zika virus, Ebola virus, and Swine Flu (Wallace & Webber, 2017) and most recently COVID-19 which disrupted business operations globally.

From south African context, very little is known what strategies were used to continue operating businesses during the black swan events. Therefore, the objective of this study was to identify the types of technologies were used to operate businesses during covid-19.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Business Intelligence Solutions: These solutions comprise IT-based tools that enable the user to customize dashboards, generate data visualizations, combine multiple data sets, and share the results with other uses.

Blockchain: This is essentially a recording system that is difficult to hack and takes the form of a digital ledger of transactions. It can reduce compliance costs, speed up data processing, and provide secure transactions.

SWOT Analysis: This term is generally used in project management forums and refers to the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of a project. It is used when developing a strategic plan and frequently to evaluate a company’s position in the market.

Internet of Things: This phrase, commonly used with the acronym IoT, refers to a system where ordinary items embedded with sensors, can be connected to the Internet. Examples of devices include smart microwaves and fridges, electric cars, fitness devices, and smart security systems.

VUCA: This is a managerial acronym for volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. This expression would be used in boardroom discussions when there are uncertain issues raised. Managers would use this acronym when problem-solving and then decision-making.

Black Swan Event: This is a metaphor for a surprising change event with major implications. This theory is often used in finance and describes a negative occurrence that was impossible to predict. Nassim Nicholas Taleb, a Lebanese American former option trader and risk analyst, coined the term ‘black swan’. He regards the COVID-19 pandemic as a ‘white swan’ event because it had been foreseen by him and others.

Teleworking: This term refers to remote or distance working where an arrangement with the employer is made concerning not having to commute to the office.

Business Continuity Planning: BCP is required in a company to prevent and recover from threats such as natural disasters or cyberattacks ensuring that both personnel and assets can function during and after such events. The process involves a risk assessment, business impact analysis, a continuity plan, strategic planning, and development and lastly to plan the testing and maintenance aspects.

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