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Covid-19 advice for NZ businesses: Be more prepared to face future crises

The current global health crisis has caused permanent changes to companies worldwide with the majority of businesses in New Zealand now saying resiliency should now be a main target, according to a recent study conducted by the International Data Corporation (IDC).

But while about 53 per cent of New Zealand businesses are putting resiliency and being prepared for another pandemic at the top of their plans, Australian businesses are focusing on operational and work models.

Forty-seven per cent of businesses in Australia are working on operating models that will need to be digitally enabled to take into account more automation, contactless solutions, transparency or trust, video-based collaboration or content sharing, etc. 

About 59 per cent of Aussie companies are also thinking of integrating work-from-home or work-at-home to their HR policy while only 34 per cent of Kiwi companies are thinking along those lines.

The IDC study, Covid-19 Impact on Australia and New Zealand ICT Spending Intent and Prioritisation May 2020, reveals, however, that while New Zealand’s civil defence model is focused on preparing the public for a natural disaster, there is little available in the way of preventative support for businesses. Kiwi companies lag behind those in other markets in their level of preparation for the Covid-19 pandemic.

More needs to be done to help New Zealand businesses better prepare for natural disasters,  said Frazer Scott, CEO of Plan B, a company with specialisation in business continuity and disaster recovery.

Scott said greater awareness of the risks facing medium and small businesses is needed to help better prepare them ahead of these disasters and will save millions in lost productivity, prevent job losses, and expedite our economic recovery.

He added the recent lockdowns have seen large numbers of local firms caught out with demand for the company’s disaster recovery services surging ‘double-digit percentages’ within a month.

“Our concern is that many of the thousands of small and medium enterprises that make up New Zealand’s economy simply cannot afford the in-house resource to better prepare for natural disasters,” Scott said.

“What we have learned from the pandemic is that immediately beyond ensuring our physical safety, we start to look at securing our short-medium term financial needs.”

Scott says technology plays a critical role in business continuity and that while SMEs often don’t suffer the legacy systems that larger customers have and can often be more agile in moving to outsourced models or cloud services, they can lack the internal resources to build the capability necessary to prepare for a disaster.

He said businesses need to plan for the known and the unknown.

“Our advice is to ensure you have a plan to operate your business securely, without access to your facilities. Testing this capability quarterly is critical,” Scott said.

“Many organisations ‘back-up’ their data, but few test it religiously – and it should be something that executive teams and boards test for as part of their Business Continuity plans.”

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