Crises, Communication and Cross-Border Collaboration

Crises, Communication and Cross-Border Collaboration

July 2, 2020

AdNovum Managing Director Singapore Leonard Cheong argues that DevOps methodologies are based on a culture of collaboration and improving efficiency through automation – which go a long way in helping organizations accelerate recovery.

By Leonard Cheong

The pandemic has fundamentally changed not only how we work, but also other salient aspects of our lives such as spending habits and social behavior. The true impact of this crisis will only be fully uncovered over the next few years. However, one thing is for certain – COVID-19 has fueled the digital transformation agenda like nothing before it.

With business-as-usual practices out of the window, organizations of all sizes and across industries are being forced to innovate. The silver lining is that this time, the crisis has stimulated greater cross-border collaboration, due to the unprecedented nature and sheer scale of the outbreak.

Singapore’s GovTech team, for instance, has become an example of innovation and agility worldwide, banding together in a time of crisis to create tech-enabled solutions that solve real world challenges. Their recent solutions include maskgowhere.sg for the collection of government-issued face masks, and the TraceTogether app for effective mobile-based contact tracing. In fact, GovTech is also contributing the source codes of the protocol that powers the TraceTogether to the open source community  to help others develop similar apps customized to their needs.

Post-pandemic too, our economic recovery hinges upon organizations embracing technology effectively. Incorporating DevOps methodologies and practices, which are based on a collaborative culture and improving efficiency through automation can help accelerate this recovery.

In preparing for digital transformation in a post-pandemic future, it is important to stay true to the fundamentals of security, usability, scalability and privacy. These building blocks will guide the success of any digital transformation initiative and DevOps can play a role in bringing this vision to life.

It is the nature of DevOps to be nimble and reactive. Tapping on DevOps practices when navigating this uncertain time can help businesses adapt and meet new challenges.

One example is balancing security with user experience. This remains one of the most challenging aspects of any digital transformation initiative. Businesses are not yet doing enough to meet this challenge as highlighted by the increase in security incidents during COVID-19. These have included incidents such as scam calls impersonating health authorities. Driven by increased remote working, companies such as Zoom found themselves  unprepared for the security challenges that came with  mass consumer adoption.

DevOps can incorporate the necessary tools and processes needed to protect both the system and the data at every stage. This is done through continuous integration and delivery processes throughout the entire development lifecycle – from planning all the way to the end delivery of the product. In fact, DevSecOps – an offshoot of DevOps – ensures that security is built into each step of the development lifecycle instead of being patched on at the end. This means that potential risks can be better identified and mitigated early, reducing dire consequences that may cause millions to fix. By leveraging DevSecOps, companies can create stronger and more nimble cybersecurity processes.

Managing scalability is another facet where DevOps can provide an effective approach through being iterative and relying on automation. DevOps practices call for business and technology leaders to agree on the right balance of functionality, time to market, cost and risk tolerance and bring these different considerations together for a solution that works for all business units. This contributes to greater agility for the business.

Collaboration is a pre-requisite for problem-solving in today’s world, especially for larger-scale issues with multiple facets. For instance, the pandemic we are in today has necessitated collaboration across healthcare, manpower, and technology agencies, among others.

Cross-border collaborations are also increasingly common.

Software products and solutions can be developed by teams across multiple markets and might be deployed across even more. This can be challenging as local regulations and privacy policies such as GDPR and PDPA need to be considered. To top it all, COVID-19 has added another layer of complexity by precluding teams from coming together face-to-face to resolve questions.

DevOps culture, characterized by greater collaboration, decreasing silos, promoting autonomous teams and building a sense of shared responsibility, is invaluable in this context, resulting in higher quality solutions that have a faster time-to-market. These benefits are well known to organizations that have already implements DevOps. However, the pandemic has proven that these efforts are not enough and need to be amplified across organizations of all types. More companies can benefit from the constant improvement that DevOps tools, processes and culture have to offer.

Companies are obligated to make responsible decisions and manage this crisis in a clear and compassionate way. This includes ensuring the health, safety and livelihood of employees; putting in place business continuity plans that enable uninterrupted client service; and working with authorities to stabilize the economy, drive innovation and aid recovery. Embracing secure DevOps principles can help achieve these goals.

(Ed.  AdNovum Singapore Managing Director Leonard Cheong says he has 30 years’ experience in the IT industry, with 16 years in the public sector and 13 in private industry.)

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