Neelesh Kripalani, Senior Vice President and Head - Center of Excellence (CoE), Clover Infotech

Neelesh Kripalani has more than 20 years of experience in the IT industry. At Clover Infotech, he is responsible for research and analysis of disruptive technologies and leveraging it for the digital transformation of the customers. Prior to his current role, Neelesh was the head of operations in India for Agile Financial Technologies. He has also served as an Associate Vice President – Technology at Tech Process Solutions Ltd, Mumbai.

 

 

As the Novel Coronavirus continues to spread around the world, the economic symptoms are emerging. As per recent reports, more than a dozen global firms have announced they will miss their financial goals for the upcoming quarter. This period of social distancing and lockdown has raised significant concerns for CIOs to enable an ecosystem where employees can access, collaborate and work remotely. At the same time, they need to ensure a robust cybersecurity system to not let hackers take advantage of current working situations. CIOs need to create comprehensive IT infrastructure to safely and reliably handle a vast increase in remote workers and digital fulfilment of market demand.

Looking at the current scenario, CIOs should immediately focus on two high-priority areas – building virtual workplaces and integrating digital technologies to serve customers demand. This is a wake-up call for organizations that have placed too much focus on daily operational needs at the expense of investing in digital infrastructure. Businesses need to shift technology capacity and investments to a digital platform to mitigate the impact of the outbreak and keep their companies running smoothly now, and over the long term.

CIOs should review existing security infrastructure and assess what people will need to work safely. They must take into consideration important factors such as the hardware employees will use while working remotely (company-issued or personal devices), and the networks they’ll be on (public or private). CIOs should also consider endpoint security for devices and robust identity and access management to allow secure sign-in to corporate systems.

Importance of Introducing Strong Cyber-Security Policies           

The remote working environment is apt for hackers to exploit security loopholes in the system. Hence, establishing robust cybersecurity practices across the organization in such a scenario shouldn’t be undermined. It is critical that CIOs introduce strong cyber-security policies along with providing a secure corporate network. Needless to say, when any employee is working remotely, they must access corporate network or any software-as-a-service (SaaS) resource via a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN is a piece of software that creates a safe, encrypted “tunnel” from the user network, whether public or private Wi-Fi, across the public internet, and into the organization’s network. Further, CIOs need to review existing security infrastructure and consider endpoint security for devices, identity and access management to enable employees to work safely and securely.

Are We Ready to Work-from-Home?

We are already witnessing a paradigm shift in the industry, wherein enterprises are realizing the importance of building virtual workplaces and integrating new-age technologies in the IT landscape to ensure employees can work from anywhere, anytime.

For workforce to function seamlessly from home, a robust digital infrastructure is needed, where employees can access the data and collaborate from remote locations in real-time. Digital transformation here plays a vital role.  Companies who have digitally transformed themselves are easily navigating the risks posed by physical infrastructure and traditional operating models.

As the number of employees working remotely is increasing, companies need to come up with proper training modules to equip their people to operate efficiently in the virtual workplace set-ups. This involves training them on best practices in virtual team building, virtual communication and collaboration. It would be good to get them accustomed to working seamlessly with a range of internal collaboration platforms meant for video and audio conferencing as well as internal enterprise applications such as CRM, ERP and the company intranet.

Above all, reskilling cannot be ignored. If efficient and secure ‘Virtual Workplaces’ are built, the time saved by employees on commute can be channeled to up-skilling, cross-skilling and reskilling them to augment their expertise.

Leadership Challenges

The way we operate will change in the coming days but fundamental growth drivers for businesses will remain the same. Hence, we must focus on business development, technology innovation, collections, and keep the finances of the business healthy. We are working on strategies wherein we can extend the perimeter of work to much beyond the office premises. While we have enabled WFH and the tools to collaborate and function seamlessly, we are also focusing on employee safety and well-being. Our teams are ensuring communication to all employees as often as possible to ensure camaraderie and stand united amidst the lockdown.

As for our plan, we do see a sharp surge in digital transformation efforts, cloud enablement, application modernization etc. We also envision a rise in demand for remote services even in critical industries such as banking. Information security and Cybersecurity will become very critical now. I think, despite COVID-19, we have been preparing our business and setting up practices over the last few years to address these areas. We are prepared to address the demand augmentation that has been bought about by COVID-19.

Advice to CIOs

Ensure utmost focus on security of critical systems and data. The proliferation in access to organizational data and critical systems necessitates that we put the apt measures in place to safeguard it. Setting up processes and alerts to track end-point security, security of applications and databases, access and identity management, etc. is utmost critical. I believe Business Continuity with proactive measures to ensure security of systems and data should be the top priority today. (As told the Editor)

More about Neelesh Kripalani


Neelesh Kripalani brings to Clover Infotech a perfect blend of IT services and BFSI sector experience. This stands him in good stead to provide top quality services to the customers, especially from the BFSI sector. He is also responsible for the automation initiatives in the organization, quality, and for capacity building across new-age technologies. Neelesh has been instrumental in enabling Clover Infotech to set up its first overseas office in Singapore to serve the Banking and Financial Services hub. Neelesh holds a master’s degree in financial management from Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai.

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