Ensuring an open communication with customers and providing proactive support in times like these will help win their trust, believes Suresh Ramani, CEO, TechGyan
As a security solution provider, how do you assess the current scenario and the lessons learned? What’s your preparedness to handle such unprecedented situation?
The biggest lesson for me is the importance of business continuity. For most of the solution providers, the focus has always been on data backup and, to an extent, disaster recovery. Today, we have a situation where there is no disaster and it has caught many of us on the wrong foot. Business Continuity Plan (BCP) is the need of the hour for both the enterprises as well as IT solution providers.
By February end, as an organisation, we realised how the situation is going to pan out in the coming months and were very clear about our approach. We quickly formed a team and the main task was to form a framework for work-from-home (WFH). Since we anticipated that post March 10 we will have to shut office for a long period, we chalked out a plan to continue providing support to our customers.
While the customers were in a state of confusion, we spoke to them in a language which was very clear. We told them that we will focus on securing two areas – their applications and devices. At the same time, being a premium cloud services provider, we have already moved most of the customers’ business critical applications to cloud.
Based on customers’ specific needs, we identified relevant applications and discussed the additional security that needs to be added, so that employees can access these from their home in a secured manner. We informed the customers about the types of devices and depending upon the requirement, we could set up the security and policy parameters.
Additionally, we conducted a series of online workshops for our customers, wherein we showed them how things will work and conveyed the availability of our support engineers who can address any additional demand. We made educated them about the processes, in order to ensure business continuity for our customers as well as for internal team providing support to them.
Please elaborate on your work-from-home solution framework
At TechGyan, we have built our WFH Solution Framework, which is broadly divided into two segments – applications and devices. Under applications, WFH as a specific solution, is a part of our Teamwork365. Our solution consists of the following components:
- Meetings and calling – a core pillar of the solution and a clear platform for organising voice and video calls
- Task management – a central and effective system for assigning, tracking, and managing tasks
- Document management – managing and securing both personal and team documents
- Email management – providing policy and user level management of emails. Also, providing consulting service to help enterprises draw up a written email policy
- Crisis communication – a platform developed internally and now deployed for the customers. This has features like company news, links, helpful tips, FAQs, emergency contacts, make a request, etc.
- Case management and opportunity management – one key activity is supporting our customers when they have a support issue. For every such issue, we generate a case in Microsoft CRM and track the same. Similarly, if there is any inquiry from customer related to billing or adding or removing a service, we generate an Opportunity in our Microsoft CRM to track the same
Giving access to corporate applications in one part of the solution. We must combine it with some specific security measures which are device specific. Broadly, we can divide the devices into distinct categories:
Company-owned computer, which will be a managed PC
- Data can be accessed only on compliant devices
- Browser and app both access
- Only IT person can enroll device
- External sharing restricted to particular security group
- USB block
Employee computer, which will be un-managed PC
- Data and app access are only on browser
- Email attachments cannot be downloaded. View only
Employee-owned mobile, which will be un-managed mobile
- Data access on browser blocked
- Org data can be accessed only through approved apps
- Screenshot block
- Printing block
- Cut, copy paste is allowed only in managed apps
- Data can be saved to One Drive and SharePoint Online only
How are you safeguarding your customers’ assets / premises in order to ensure continuity of their business operations?
We started with securing emails, which is the biggest threat area where customers can expect the breakage. We then secured the documents; in terms of how are they going to access and work on their documents; followed by securing their application data; securing their identity through multi-factor authentication; and lastly, securing their devices. We discussed all these five areas with the customers and also conveyed our intent of putting a layer of compliance at the top of it. As long as we are taking care of these areas, this will ensure that customers’ data is safe and they are able to mitigate risks arising in the current condition.
In this time of total lockdown, how are you ensuring 24×7 service and support to your customers?
There is no need to visit customers, as we have already defined all the processes of supporting them remotely. After we conducted a series of workshops for our customers, they were assured of our 24×7 support. Besides, the internal team is also keeping me updated on all the developments as we interact with each other on a regular basis.
In order to live up to the customers’ expectations, we are keeping clear communication with the customers. The moment all of us moved to WFH, we published an emergency contact number on our website. Unlike other partners, our website acts as a strategic tool for us. Not just our team, we also asked the customers to keep referring to the website for any updates. We also sent a communication to all our customers informing them about how they can contact us. Furthermore, we allocated company laptops to all the internal team members so that each and everyone can work remotely. Lastly, every morning, our lead service team conducts an online meeting, wherein they refer to the CRM, discuss the cases, plan, and finally, address those cases. We have been diligently following this process.
Most importantly, to keep a tab on the work, I am also holding calls with team leaders every day. With this exercise, all of us are on top the situation around us. We have been receiving positive feedback from customers about the promptness of our team. Our idea was to have simple processes in place and before the lockdown, we reviewed all the existing processes and fine-tuned them as per the current situation.
This is the time for annual renewal of customers. While 90 per cent would renew, there are a few who would back out due to the pricing that we offer. Surprisingly, looking at the way we are operating, those 10 per cent customers have also asked for renewal this year. This is the testimony of our support and services.
Highlight some of the challenges being faced in providing service or support to customers during this period?
We are experiencing an issue of time management. While our internal team is totally into work-from-home mode and are available, being at home the customers sometimes ask them for a support at a particular time. With this, we are witnessing a clash of customer calls coming at the same time. We have decided that if any particular request doesn’t require an urgent attention, we are allotting time slots to customers to address their issues. Otherwise, things have been working smoothly for us.
Soon we will witness business models changing, wherein there will be far more remote workers in any organisation. In such scenario, what’s the best cyber security practices, should your customers adopt? And how would you, as a security solution provider, compliment in such a scenario?
Remote working will become the new normal. There are customers who are overstressed on not allowing the access of their corporate data outside office. Such companies will have to undergo cultural changes. Secondly, in many companies, I have seen a lot of trust issues. Apparently, there have been instances in the past, where the customers have requested for a software that could monitor the workstations of their employees. In the current scenario, all these companies don’t have a choice.
From a security provider perspective, we can help our customers by securing their identity, information, and devices along with a better compliance.