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Data Intelligence for Disaster Planning and Business Continuity in the Face COVID-19 or Other Crises

by Rachel Haines       • April 9, 2020

COVID-19 has presented businesses with a new and immediate set of challenges that reinforce the need for data intelligence to inform disaster planning and business continuity.

The coronavirus epidemic and its impacts are sharp and severe. And while its duration is uncertain, it is likely to permanently change the way businesses and societies function.

So how do businesses adapt to survive?

As someone who works in data governance and intelligence, I’d like to look at three aspects of disaster planning and business continuity in particular. I hope this information helps you with answers to these questions:

  • How do we quickly shift to a remote workforce?
  • How do we guarantee business continuity in both the near and far terms?
  • How do we protect our data?

Data Intelligence Disaster Planning

Survey of Data Resources

I live in California, a state frequently shaken by earthquakes so we are told to always be prepared. For residents and businesses here, that means surveying the resources we have and supplementing them with additional resources needed to weather service disruptions.

I believe this lesson can be applied more broadly to our current situation. From a data perspective, have we surveyed our resources? Do we know where each piece of data in our organization is stored, where it comes from, and what its value to the organization is?

Understanding the semantic meaning of our data and identifying critical data elements will help us complete our resources-on-hand survey. If we have not yet ingested and organized both at-rest and in-motion metadata from across our system landscape, then we may be at a disadvantage when it comes to business continuity.

Documented Policies and Procedures

Similar to emergency preparedness in terms of supplies, we, as a family living in California, need to recognize that a disaster probably won’t occur when all of us are together. As a mitigation for this risk, my family has discussed how we will reunite should a disaster occur when we are outside the home.

We have established a number of “rally points” where we should be able to meet. We also have a plan regarding how long we will stay at those points and how to get from point A to point B across a landscape that has potential infrastructure failures.

Likewise, our businesses should have continuity plans and processes in place for when our workforce is displaced or unable to return to our physical locations. In our current circumstance, having well-documented policies, processes and procedures around our business functions will enable us to quickly adapt those processes to a new reality, potentially without dropping or skipping key steps in those processes.

Data Security and Sharing

One of the greatest reasons for disaster planning is to ensure the safety and security of the family – or employees and the overall business. Therefore, we need to be aware of our potential risks and put plans in place to mitigate those risks.

With so much of our workforce under governmental #StayHome orders, how to we protect and preserve our data and the associated business processes? What tools do we need to guarantee continuity?

Many tools facilitate online meetings for groups large and small. Many organizations use VPNs to connect data and applications. But as we use these tools, we need to be aware of potential end-point security issues that may be created by the use of external ISPs and at-home Wi-Fi configurations.

To mitigate these risks, we should refresh our policies and training around data security and data sharing so all work-from-home staff are aware of potential threats to the business.

The Role of Data Intelligence in Disaster Planning and Business Continuity

If your organization has scanned and classified key data, documented critical policies and processes, and included disaster planning in your corporate goals, then your business is better positioned to weather the COVID-19 pandemic – in addition to any other crisis that may occur.

But if you don’t feel comfortable in this regard, now is the time to divert resources to close your planning gaps. Even if this pandemic ends up resolving faster than the experts predict, you’ll have invested in your business’s future and will be stronger for it.

I recommend starting with the erwin Data Intelligence Suite (erwin DI) to ensure your data is documented, mapped and understood with respect to its business value. In addition to automating the collection and publication of your metadata, the erwin DI will highlight which business functions rely on which data and will help you classify what level of criticality and security should be applied to mitigate risk and ensure business continuity.

If you would like a demo of erwin DI to see how it can help your organization to adapt during this crisis (and beyond), please feel free to reach out to me or any of my colleagues at erwin.

Stay safe, and wash your hands!

WFH Impact Manager

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