The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted the socio-economic order of the world. Businesses are adjusting to the work from home situation and are leveraging new-age technologies to fight the unprecedented crisis. According to industry reports, 64 per cent of businesses in India claim to be prepared to tackle the ongoing crisis. However, the pandemic is chocking small and medium businesses (SMBs), with a mere 3 per cent ready.
From the advancement of the digitalisation process and deployment of chatbots to ensuring secured work from home practices, companies are making concerted efforts to minimise the disruption in business practices. A look at how some of the Indian businesses have maintained continuity during the lockdown…
IT and technology
To minimise the impact of Covid-19 on the business, Tech Mahindra has taken several precautionary measures. The company has increased its critical circuit capacity by 30 per cent and is proactively monitoring the capacity of its IT infrastructure from its network operations centre (NOC). It has enabled two-factor authentication on its virtual private network (VPN) connection so that the data traffic movement is completely encrypted. Meanwhile, the company has set up a 24×7 Covid-19 emergency response team to help address queries in real time. A Covid-19 cross-functional team has also been set up to address both associate and customer issues at the local, regional and corporate levels.
The company is actively engaging with its employees and sharing health advisories from time to time to combat the pandemic. An enterprise risk management team has been assembled to manage the company’s response and implement changes to the workforce structure on a real-time basis. Furthermore, collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams are being used extensively by employees across the world to collaborate on different aspects like IP creations and customer engagement. The management stays connected with employees at all levels in the organisation through “daily stand up” meetings via video conferencing using the Microsoft Teams platform.
In the work–from-home scenario, ensuring security has been a major concern for Novac, an IT arm and also a subsidiary of Shriram Capital. To address this, the company has adopted proper VPN tunnelling for data loss prevention along with privilege access management software. Novac has also enabled digital rights management for select critical users, allowing them to transfer data and files. Further, it has added new threat indicators and advisories to tackle cyberthreats around Covid-19. In order to make communication with customers smooth and fast, Novac has allowed the use of WhatsApp as a part of enterprise communication. Novac has also configured all its incoming calls in the contact centre by redirecting them to agents’ mobile devices. The company has also deployed third-party products for collaboration and video conferencing.
Banking and insurance
Kotak Mahindra Bank
The bank has a strong business continuity plan (BCP) with advanced cloud-based applications, platforms and infrastructure. For its customers, the bank has upgraded its digital offerings and solutions to provide smooth access to its facilities on mobile and internet banking platforms. Kotak has witnessed an increase in the adoption of new digital platforms like WhatsApp Banking and AI-backed Keya voicebot.
Tata AIA Life Insurance
The company has moved its major operations internally and on to digital platforms. Customers can now buy protection policies through digital platforms. The company’s online sales platform allows distributors and customers to interact and buy policies remotely. For digital payments, the platform has multiple options such as Jio Money, Paytm, electronic bill processing, immediate payment service, wallets and the ICICI Bank QuickPay facility. In addition, the protection premium can be paid online, also through equated monthly instalments. Tata AIA initially started a 24×7 bot support, which was later backed by customer agents to handle more queries. The company is also leveraging data analytics tools and AI/machine learning models to predict customer response and buying behaviour for better decision-making. It has also rolled out interactive voice response service with manual backup support of external customer agents working from home. WhatsApp and SMS services have been introduced to manage customer requests. Going forward, the company is also planning several online initiatives for its distributors and advisers to help them engage with customers more seamlessly.
Bajaj Allianz Life Insurance
To meet the digital requirements, Bajaj Allianz Life Insurance is strengthening its central computing systems among other strategic interventions while ensuring overall security. Amidst the lockdown, the insurance company has adapted to the emerging demands. Most of the policy-related services have been introduced through digital touchpoints such as WhatsApp, allowing customers to easily connect with the insurance firm. The company is also using the BOING chatbot, the Life Assist mobile app and a customer portal for the same. Besides, new payment options have been made available for all the sales channels to ensure that customers stay invested in their policies.
RailTel is still servicing the new demand from customers with the support of its software-defined data centre, community cloud and other network projects. Despite the challenges in project delivery and other restrictions due to the lockdown, Railtel is maintaining network bandwidth with advanced security. The company is using technologies such as secure sockets layer VPN for applications. It has recently activated the remote desktop protocol, which enables it to remotely diagnose and resolve network issues quickly. It has been designed for remote management, remote access to VDIs, applications and servers. Coming to RailTel’s BCP, the company has implemented a site recovery manager, which is an industry-leading disaster recovery solution that enables automated orchestration of failover and fail-back to minimise downtime. To support backup capabilities in this pandemic, RailTel has deployed backup and replication as a service for customers that automates all the backup workloads. Further, to address the telecommunications requirements, RailTel has prepared a roster for the deployment of skeleton staff for telecom NOC, telepresence NOC, and IT infrastructure and operations support staff.
Cloudnine Group of Hospitals
The Cloudnine Group of Hospitals has launched its teleconsultation service with doctors in response to the growing public health concerns due to the spread of Covid-19. The product has been built on Cloudnine’s apps for both customers and doctors. As per the hospital, this is a first-of-its-kind service in maternal and child healthcare. The service has been made available across all its facilities in Gurugram, Noida, Chandigarh, Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru and Chennai. The service allows customers to consult doctors from their homes via video.
Aster DM Healthcare has also launched a 24×7 Covid-19 support centre for people from across India. With the help of social media and digital channels, the healthcare provider has allowed people to register on the website or Facebook page of any of its 13 hospitals in India and book an appointment with healthcare experts. The sessions are conducted by internal medicine and emergency experts through a video call following medical protocols approved by local authorities. Aster DM is also investing in technologies such as telemedicine, virtual healthcare consultation and digital symptom checkers. It has chatbots trained with advanced modelling to understand and take queries in this situation, and help people access better healthcare. Aster DM is using AI-based mental wellness medical grade chatbots, AI-based radiological diagnostics with advanced training to analyse and diagnose Covid-associated pneumonia. Further, it has deployed an IoT-based hand hygiene compliance monitoring solution to contain the spread of Covid in hospitals, and monitor ICU facilities through telemonitoring. The healthcare company is also in the process of developing a platform to monitor the expansion of such viruses in real time without any geographical challenges.
The ongoing pandemic has compelled organisations to reassess their IT infrastructure. The success of work from home and benefits associated with it may encourage organisations to accept it as a norm in the coming days. It will facilitate the shift from solutions on premises/cloud to solutions at end points.