So, when employees are the asset, making them comfortable with digital tools to maintain productivity is not only important to keep the business going during these difficult times

“Remote working is not new to Cisco”

Dharmendra Rangain, CIO of Cisco India and SAARC, shares details of how the company is supporting organizations shift to WFH during the lockdown and strategies to ensure business continuity.  Excerpts from an interview with Shubhendu Parth.

Dharmendra Rangain, CIO, Cisco India & SAARC

On business continuity process and plan
Cisco has a well-established process to coordinate our efforts during an event like this. We are conducting all meetings and discussions, across departments, over Webex; even our customer briefings, proof of concept proposals, etc. are being delivered virtually. With the relaxation of the regulation on other service providers (OSP) by the Department of Telecommunications, we have implemented WFH solutions for our customer support specialists.

On collaboration and communication tools being used during WFH
Remote working is not new to Cisco. We were among the early adopters of flexible timings and now provide the work-from-anywhere option to over 80% of our workforce. To ensure productivity, Cisco has a vast portfolio of solutions that enable seamless and secure collaboration from anywhere, anytime, and on any device.

During this time, Webex Teams is our preferred tool for virtual collaboration, for both internal and external meetings. Over the last few weeks, our videoconferencing tools have been leveraged across industries to enable employees, business leaders, and governments to stay connected and running during this time. We are also working towards enabling schools, colleges, and medical facilities to connect remotely while partnering closely with our customers who are rapidly scaling their work-from-home efforts.

On tools to keep customer service up and running during the lockdown
To support businesses in making the shift to working from home, we have expanded our capabilities on Webex and extended free licenses for key security technologies. We are also partnering closely with our customers, who are rapidly scaling their work-from-home efforts and ensuring they get the support they need at this time.

On strategies and facilities to enable safe and secure remote connectivity
As early adopters of flexible timings, and with a large number of our employees having the flexibility to work from home, we have always prioritized the need for comprehensive security that allows safe and secure collaboration from anywhere, and on any device.

To this effect, we have fine-tuned various solutions to provide the best user experience possible without compromising on security. We use multiple layers of defense to ensure secure remote working at scale.

We are partnering closely with our customers, who are rapidly scaling their work-from-home efforts and ensuring they get the support they need at this time.

On access devices to facilitate work-from-home
While Cisco’s Webex platform offers a user-friendly interface and can be accessed from any device, like a mobile phone, for a lot of employees, their homes may just not be very conducive to work. Bandwidth issues may lead to an unproductive work atmosphere. Here, it is important to optimize bandwidth availability and help them stay productive and motivated while working from home.

On technology and business challenges faced by the company during the lockdown
As companies, as employees and as individuals, we all had to adapt quickly to a dynamic situation and respond to unprecedented scenarios. At times like these, organizations face two challenges in enabling productive and safe work from home. The first is data security. As work boundaries extend beyond the office, it is essential to put in place a robust security infrastructure that can support remote working at scale.

The second challenge, one that organizations may find more daunting, is facilitating a mind-shift amongst their employees. Here, leaders must work towards easing the shift to a new way of working, without a loss in delivery and operations.

At Cisco, we are encouraging our employees to communicate regularly with each other and to our customers and partners, leveraging technology to stay connected, and dispense support and expertise as the need arises.

The interview was first published in the April 2020 print edition of Voice&Data

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