COVID-19: Systems resilience in times of unprecedented disruption

In the unfolding COVID-19 crisis, systems resilience is being tested like never before. IT and business leaders must ensure that their organizations can continue to operate through this unprecedented disruption by quickly addressing the stability of critical business processes and underlying systems. Systems resilience describes a system’s ability to operate during a major disruption or crisis, with minimal impact on critical business and operational processes. This means preventing outages, mitigating their impact, or recovering from them. Our definition of systems includes applications, architecture, data, cloud, infrastructure and network.The immediate challenge: Operating in a new reality
Companies are operating under a new reality that puts great strain on their systems.

  • Business continuity risks including supply chain disruptions, shifts in customer touchpoints, unavailability of critical resources, and gaps in business continuity protocols.
  • Surges in transaction volumes (for example, because of a shift from physical to digital purchasing) or precipitous declines in demand.
  • Monitoring, reporting, and decision-making with real-time data to respond to immediate business needs in a dynamic environment.
  • Workforce productivity challenges due to employees working remotely, associated with connectivity and security.
  • Security risks including countering bad actors who will inevitably seek to take advantage of individuals and organizations.

Most companies face a significant gap
Based on our research, most companies are already starting with a significant gap in systems resilience. In 2019,  MWC conducted a vast survey of 8,300 companies that revealed only a small minority have cracked the code on systems resilience.


Only the top 10% of 8,300 companies surveyed have cracked the code on systems resilience.

For the rest, the gap has become more acute. Now is the time to take action to address systems resilience issues today and lay a foundation for the future. The leaders today and those who act quickly to address the immediate challenge will successfully navigate the crisis and emerge stronger.
Actions to take Now and Next

We’ve outlined clear steps companies can take to bring stability, reliability and resilience to systems, fast.


  • Establish a lean governance structure for dynamic decision-making.
  • Create an empowered resilience response team to address immediate issues.
  • Proactively identify vulnerabilities and quick wins using toolkits.


  • Establish small scrum teams with autonomy to execute point solutions using the six building blocks of systems resilience:
    • Elastic Digital Workplace
    • Hyper Automation
    • Architecture & Performance Engineering
    • Cloud Acceleration & Optimization
    • Service Continuity
    • Cybersecurity
  • Capture remediation actions in the form of 30, 60, 90 day plans.


  • Establish a structured intake process and platform to capture areas that need ongoing attention.
  • Scale to the new normal by defining long-term transformation strategies that drive towards a more resilient IT landscape.
  • Focus on small, incremental programs to self-fund transformation.
  • Optimize ecosystem partnerships to shift to an asset-light model and mitigate vulnerabilities.

Mobilize: Prepare to take swift action

CIOs and IT leaders play a central role in ensuring their organizations can continue to operate through disruption, by taking the following steps in the first 72-hours:

  • Establish a lean governance structure with representation from business and technology for dynamic prioritization and decision making.
  • Create an empowered resilience response team that immediately mobilizes resources to focus on business continuity in critical areas.
  • Proactively identify vulnerabilities and quick wins to address current challenges using toolkits such as the Accenture Systems Resilience Diagnostic.

Now: Apply the six building blocks of systems resilience

Accenture has identified six resilience building blocks that will enable a quick response to critical systems vulnerabilities.

01Elastic Digital Workplace

Quickly enable remote work with a focus on culture, technologies, communications and policies—at extraordinary speed and scale.

  • Immediately help employees adapt to remote working (e.g. effectively run virtual meetings).
  • Deploy or scale collaboration tools and provide guidance for operating in a remote connected workplace.
  • Organize an Elastic Digital Workplace Task Force including business, HR, IT and security leaders.
  • Equip traditional desktop workers with mobile solutions and implement virtual desktop solutions.

02 Hyper Automation

Accelerate existing automation investments to mitigate the impact of systems disruption, free up human resource capacity and streamline IT workforce management.

  • Identify and prioritize bottleneck areas.
  • Implement automation to immediately resolve high-volume tasks by leveraging techniques like machine learning and AI models.
  • Augment that which cannot be completely automated with digital co-workers.
  • Optimize the deployment of human talent to focus on high touch activities.

03 Architecture & Performance Engineering

Quickly resolve critical systems availability and performance constraints and scale applications to meet business demand.

  • Set up a triage room to get quick consensus on problems and priorities to address first.
  • Identify and implement quick performance engineering wins such as optimizing application memory, architecture-caching and data-indexing.
  • Quickly scale application capabilities through configuration or commercial changes.
  • Apply rapid architecture remediation techniques, such as streaming data, to offload demand on critical systems.

04 Cloud Acceleration & Optimization

Navigate extreme surges or drops in demand, manage risk, deploy instant innovation and optimize cloud costs.

  • Reconfigure traffic to maximize capacity for critical applications and infrastructure.
  • Leverage the power of cloud to deploy instant innovation through new cloud-native solutions.
  • Take advantage of cloud’s pay-by-the-drink model to align technology costs to drops in demand.

05 Service Continuity

Quickly source and onboard skilled resources to support critical in-flight services or deliver new IT projects.

  • Find the right skilled resources and initiate knowledge transition.
  • Enable accelerated service readiness.
  • Support service continuity through fit-for-purpose modern engineering practices and lean governance.

06 Cybersecurity

Secure your customers, people and systems wherever they are to counter the bad actors who seek to take advantage during a crisis.

  • Rapidly deploy a Zero Trust model for multi-cloud solutions, individually-owned devices (BYOD) and third-party technologies.
  • Identify security abnormalities and events.
  • Institute daily situational threat intelligence briefings virtually.
  • Remind employees and third parties to remain vigilant as cyberthreat tactics increase.
  • Build analytics and automation for monitoring solutions.

Next: An eye on the future

Even before COVID-19, many organizations faced considerable challenges to their resilience. Once we reach the other side of this pandemic, it will be important to establish long-term strategies for greater resilience. Apply lessons learned from the experience to create a systems and talent roadmap that better prepares your company for future disruptions.

  • Define long-term transformation strategies that prioritize and address antiquated applications, architectures and infrastructure, highly manual processes and underfunded cyber resilience.
  • Self-fund your transformation through small incremental programs that drive efficiency and free up capital.
  • Leverage ecosystem partners to shift to an asset-light model and mitigate vulnerable dependencies, choosing partners resilient to global risks.
MWC can help you quickly diagnose critical business processes and systems, identify potential vulnerabilities and take practical and timely action to minimize risk and loss.As the situation unfolds, we will continuously update our materials, so please check back regularly.

We are here to help you navigate so schedule a call to discuss your specific business goals

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