COVID-19 IMPACTInterviewsSecurity

COVID-19 Impact: Companies Should Ensure Employees Are Motivated

Anand Choudha, the CEO and President of Spectrami, says that his company has seen an increase in business related to Threat Intelligence and VPN Connectivity solutions

During this COVID-19 crisis, what measures have you undertaken to continue your own business without disruption?
To protect the employees from getting infected and ensuring that we follow the guidelines laid by the authorities in terms of social distance, we have started working from home from 15th of March and will continue to do so until June 30th, unless the authorities extend it further. We have ensured that every user has a VPN access, and because we are very organized as a company, we have systems in place to ensure that the employees can work remotely in a seamless way.

This is more from an internal perspective and we are all set and geared up and are functioning as normal. There were initial hiccups in the first two weeks, but we are now all set with everybody having systems to support their roles for working from home.

What measures and initiatives have been taken to provide uninterrupted service to customers?
We are connecting with our customers, vendors and partners on a proactive basis. We have the engineers who are doing remote POCs and we have a lot of instances in Saudi Arabia and other territories where we have done successful POCs remotely for Blackberry, Tenable and other products. We believe in the people’s word and in the earlier scenario, it was important to have a face to face physical meetings with customers; however, in the new scenario, these have been replaced by face-to-face Zoom calls and phone calls and are there to help customers in case they need anything from us.

Also, we have introduced free cybersecurity assessments and health checkups to ensure that the customers are protected. As they moved to remote working, they have opened up their gateway to VPN tunnels, and there are changes in the way connectivity is happening and we want to help our customers and ensure that while they adhere to these new norms of remote working and open their networks, they don’t have gaps that can be exploited by the hackers.

We are a customer centric company and we are ensuring that we stay relevant and connected to our customers through new forms of connectivity including Zoom calls.  At the same time we are conducting a lot of marketing initiatives in terms of webinars to ensure that the customers are updated on the latest offerings and also we also trying to keep the relevant topics keeping the COVID-19 crisis in mind and the new systems that are being put in place by customers to ensure that business continues to be in operation even in the current scenario.

Which top industry verticals and markets have you seen the maximum traction? How has COVID-19 impacted business with existing customers in those verticals and markets?
As a business we are very fortunate to have focus on Cybersecurity. If we look at cyberthreats, they have only increased in the last one month. A simple example would be phishing attacks and other sophisticated attacks are happening in the network now. And this is only going to increase in the near future with many people losing their jobs and cybercriminals trying to exploit the fact that the networks of corporates have been opened to work from remote.

At the same time the IT teams of those corporates had to react to adapt to this new situation was short and the cybersecurity aspect has not been necessarily addressed by everyone. Once they have opened up the connectivity, now they have realizing the fact they that they are also open to new attacks happening on their network because of the change and they are trying to patch it up and put systems in place.

So, we don’t feel that any specific vertical is going to see the maximum traction. The answer is quite simple – any customer whose data is critical to their existence, and who have a large setup, are going to ensure that they are protected from cyberattacks. We will stay relevant to medium and large companies including Oil & Gas, Government, Banking & Finance, Manufacturing and Education.

We have still a lot of orders coming in for Threat Intelligence and VPN Connectivity solutions. It is too early to estimate the overall impact the current situation will have, but we are closely monitoring the situation and we feel that would be a certain delay in procuring solutions, but we don’t see overall impact if we see the next 12 months cycle.

Have you put in place any contingency plans if this crisis persists or gets escalated?
It is very difficult to answer this question at this time because the situation is very alarming and is changing every day. Definitely, we are all trying to adapt to the situation. We have plans laid out in case the crisis extends beyond the end of June. But we are all prepared till end of June and have taken appropriate steps to ensure that we continue to exist as a business and support our customers, partners and vendors.

What sort of business and financial impact do you expect for your business as a result of COVID-19?
Again, it is very difficult to assess the situation. There are different timelines that have been projected by governments and the media houses globally as to how quickly the businesses be back to the earlier situation. There are different ways to look at it as there are various timelines indicated for the crisis to taper down – some indicate end of June and some indicate September, or even beyond that.

It is very difficult to assess the overall business and financial impact, but from a Spectrami perspective, we are ready as we have plans in place. The good thing for us that our financial year ends on March 31st. So, we are better off than all those companies who had put their financial plans in place in January, and never could have the opportunity to plan for this crisis.

We at Spectrami have been fortunate in this as while we were closing our financial year in March, this crisis happened, and we have been able to factor in the current situation in planning for our new financial year. Hence, we believe are relatively more prepared with contingency steps in place to weather this storm.

Have you kick-started any initiatives for your employees to better handle this crisis?
One of the good things that we have done in terms of ensuring employees are motivated and ready for the crisis is making them aware of the situation, preparing them with all sorts of scenarios. Fortunately, we are one of the very few companies who have not reduced any employees because of the crisis at this stage. Whatever planning has been done has been due to business demands.

Also, we have not done any salary cuts across the board for any of our employees. So, the motivation level is very high, and the team believes that we are in this phase where our business is going to stay relevant and that is a very big motivation. Because two factors are important for motivation – one is job security and the second one is business potential and forecast in the current scenario. And both seems to be in control at this current stage.

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Chris Fernando

Chris N. Fernando is an experienced media professional with over two decades of journalistic experience. He is the Editor of Arabian Reseller magazine, the authoritative guide to the regional IT industry. Follow him on Twitter (@chris508) and Instagram (@chris2508).

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