Critical infrastructure in the UK has been severely tested by the current pandemic.

As life changed in an instant for many our service industries had to respond. Water needs to keep running, roads need to remain clear and broadband needs to stay connected. Events like Covid-19 intensify these tasks and take on even more meaning.

We are beginning to see an easing of lockdown restrictions, but we are not out of the woods yet. Looking ahead, these industries face further challenges.

Getting prepared

The industries that deliver our critical infrastructure have similar operational challenges, be it energy, healthcare, telecoms or transport. They need to ensure supply, manage demand, avoid outages, support vulnerable customers and maintain customer service. The resilience of these organisations in meeting these asks will be further tested over the coming months.

Due to Covid-19, there are likely to more challenges and less staff. There is likelihood of a second peak and regional differences in restrictions. On top of this, organisations had to rapidly respond to large scale home working. As a result, we need to consider the cybersecurity strength of new working practices.

To ensure continuity, we need to address new questions: how do you repair critical services in the field and guarantee worker safety; how do you mobilise a workforce for emergency large-scale repairs, such as a flood; and how do you ensure technology is secure and meets the needs of a new remote workforce?

Organisations need to ensure they are resilient for the future and use this as a driver for digital transformation.

The pandemic has highlighted how critical it is for organisations to plan for all scenarios to maintain and grow successful futures. For many businesses, continuity and disaster recovery planning was very much a hygiene factor. Organisations drew up plans and reviewed them annually.

We now need a new level of capability to ensure resilience. We will also see this capability owned at board level and it will become a point of competitive differentiation There is a need to create new business units and senior roles to enable the analysis and modelling of resilience. It will involve adjusting their supply chains, organisation model and critical technology infrastructure. Organisations that do this will mitigate risk, be robust and more agile.

Planning to thrive

To thrive in the new normal, organisations need to look beyond the immediate. Many organisations have modelled how they will manage the challenges of the next 12 months. Success in the long-term, however, means developing plans that embed new technologies, organisational models and ways of working.

We have outlined the key areas we have identified for critical infrastructure industries to not only survive but to flourish. It stresses the importance of focusing on customer and business needs through digital transformation.

What can businesses do?

Innovate to survive now and to set the foundations to thrive after Covid

  • Identify society & business needs during and after pandemic
  • Assess what services would meet those needs and the business transformation required. What is the best compromise between business transformation and the value added by the new services?

Accelerate digital transformation 

  • Assess what digital services will bring most value to customers. Create a digital transformation roadmap
  • Reskill your workforce to deliver new services

Plan and assess the transformation under different scenarios

  • Identify what services will find the strongest demand under The Ice-Age, The Long Winter or The Storm
  • Create a transformation plan with a short & long-term view. Can the business survive during transition? 

Get closer to your customers, employees and society

  • Unique opportunity to become a trusted brand that really cares about society
  • Redefine company values and purpose. Include environmental and social performance measures

Covid-19 crisis has stretched our critical infrastructure and shown us what is possible. Now is the time to put plans into action. Plans that ensure our future critical infrastructure, is even stronger, responsive and resilient.

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