BATTLE READY BUSINESSES EMERGE FROM COVID -19 BETTER THAN EVER

TSTT Corporate Communications

Ian Galt, General Manager Enterprise Services, Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago Limited (TSTT)

Since mid-March, Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago (TSTT) has had a front row seat and supporting role in seeing many of our local businesses, from all spheres, nimble and determined, transform their operations to weather a crisis unprecedented.

Restrictions on public gatherings and stay at home regulations meant a huge shift towards people working from home. For companies already in the Cloud, it would have been a seamless switch with a business owner or employee being able to work from a hotel room in Japan if necessary.

Undoubtedly, one of the biggest benefits for businesses on a Cloud platform, like TSTT’s, before COVID-19, was the ability to have employees work from home and securely connect to the company’s host systems. With this, employees were able to work securely and employers could readily generate detailed reports measuring the productivity of every member of their remote workforce as well as tracking their activities, calls and access to company data.

Another notable advantage of Cloud-based services is how quick, easy and affordable it is to adjust capacity and tailor services up or down, at any time, to meet fluctuating or seasonal business needs. This enables businesses to not only ensure optimal performance of their systems but to reduce and better manage business impact accordingly. In addition, the Cloud provider is responsible for maintenance, security and uptime of the client’s IT infrastructure, freeing up a business and its brain capital to focus on core operations, creative ideas, strategic marketing and future growth.

Change in Attitude

It would be an understatement to say that this pandemic has brought far more challenges than upsides, but one positive is the revelation experienced by businesses that were previously closed to the idea of employees working from home. There has been a drastic and welcome turnaround in people’s perception, understanding and acceptance of remote working, and by extension, the tools that companies use for remote working, such as Cloud services.

Businesses now realise that it works and it is secure. I would even argue that Cloud is far more secure than on premise equipment and data. They have also realised that they don’t need to have employees spend three, sometimes four hours a day in traffic. Won’t it be wonderful if you could say to an employee: “I will give you the right tools and spare you having to endure 1,000 hours a year in traffic”? Those tools can be as simple as a laptop, headphones and a camera. Someone

might prefer to head to a coffee shop 10 minutes away when needed rather than take on a two-hour morning commute.

Benefits of a World Class Data Centre

As a result of the pandemic, many businesses also experienced the benefits of utilizing two of TSTT’s most prized assets; our world class TIA 942-B Rated 3 certified Data Centre facility and the Caribbean’s only VMware verified cloud. Not only do our customers have the assurance that their data is stored in-country, but Rated 3 status means a guaranteed uptime reliability of 99.998%. In any one year, we can only be down for one hour, eight minutes and 22 seconds. Over the last eight years, we have never been down. Our customers have enjoyed 100% uptime.

Aside from investing significantly to build this Data Centre, a major part of the ongoing recertification requires that our systems are routinely upgraded and tested by ethical hacking companies to make certain that they are highly secure. Our Data Centre has strict access policies so no one is allowed onto the compound unaccompanied. When you add redundant networking, power, cooling and a team of highly certified engineers, businesses can be confident that their applications and data will always be available.

From a business continuity standpoint, the pandemic has caused many companies to reevaluate their disaster preparedness and business continuity plans. This has demonstrated that in any form of catastrophe - disease, fire, flood, hurricane or earthquake – having all your IT equipment and data located solely on your physical premises, is not a good choice. Stored in the Cloud, data is safer, more secure and more accessible than on premise. The impact to a business is therefore minimised and operations can continue more seamlessly, if need arises.

Looking to the Future

I don’t expect anyone who has experienced the benefits of Cloud services to turn back now - even if going back to business as usual was possible. COVID-19 has forced people to adopt and embrace digitisation and has changed the way they will do business forever. Furthermore, companies have realised the costs benefits and savings associated with moving to the Cloud.

As we move closer to when businesses can fully reopen, we have to recognise that save for a few, no one will come out of this financially better off. Not every business will reopen and as unfortunate as this may be, there is no guarantee that every business that does reopen will succeed. Spend and cash have and will become even more precious. Businesses that were not interested in saving what may have been considered “a few dollars” some months ago are interested now, and that will be a compelling reason for them to continue or start using Cloud services.

I know a number of business leaders have been pleasantly surprised that a remote workforce has been productive. I have heard comments like: “We’ve been pleased at how simple this was and how well our team has adapted.” I’ve also had a couple people advise me they never thought such a model could work and that they were concerned that their business “would all fall apart.” I

should qualify this by saying that these are all people who had already adopted cloud technology in some way, and who expanded their footprint so to speak. Through their experience since mid-March, they will have the confidence to be a little less conservative and more trusting of their staff, as well as the technology.

From a public health standpoint, the Business sector and Government will also have to take a serious look at how they operate from both a staffing perspective (physical distancing) and also how they interact with their customers, clients and the public. Online services will become critical success factors for the “new norm”, and the ability for businesses to connect, transact and engage digitally with their clients will ultimately drive how successful adopters become.

If Trinbagonian businesses go brave in a post-pandemic world, I am confident we will be more competitive, cost effective and resilient. The wider the society will see significant benefits in the form of reduced traffic congestion, lower air pollution, higher productivity, happier and healthier employees, better family life and an overall better quality of life!

It is said that necessity is the mother of invention, and I believe that those words have never been more apt to our situation. Trinidad and Tobago, and by extension the Caribbean, has the minds and the technology infrastructure to rebuild, while diversifying our economies. As Trinidad and Tobago’s only full service telecommunications and broadband provider, TSTT has a pivotal role to play. We are ready and we are more than able.

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© 2019 by Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago Limited