- Enterprises across sectors are adopting preventive measures and outlining response plans in the event employees are exposed to COVID-19, known as the novel coronavirus. Companies are advising staff to stay home if they're sick to limit community risk. Organizations are relying on remote work capabilities, in the event of quarantine.
- While the World Health Organization says containment is still feasible, businesses have ramped up emergency response measures. As part of "initial safety precautions" for March, Salesforce is prohibiting cross-border travel and placing restrictions around domestic travel for its workforce, the company said in a statement Monday. The company will make all in-person events digital.
- In response to the outbreak, Adobe and Google Cloud canceled the in-person portions of their annual conference. Google Cloud will hold Next '20 as a digital, multi-day event while Adobe Summit and Magento Imagine will take place online. Microsoft is also changing its MVP and Regional Director Summit into an online-only event.
Business is built on hand shakes — travel, networking and in-person meetings are the backbone of enterprise technology, yet with a global outbreak, operations are curtailed.
Tuesday there were more than 91,000 confirmed cases of the virus, with more than 80,000 in mainland China, according to a tracking dashboard from Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering. The number of cases outside of China are increasing, with more than 100 reported in the U.S. Six people in the U.S. have died from coronavirus.
Digital communications keeps business operating if offices are closed. Chief information officers are working with fellow C-suite executives on contingency plans revolving around maintaining a seamless work experience.
The technology industry has dramatically improved its adoption of digital communication.
In the past, video collaboration was the bane of a CIO's existence, said Brook Colangelo, VP and CIO of Waters Corporation, which provides research and measurement technology for pharmaceutical and life sciences companies. But enterprise has rounded that curve as tools became simpler and more effective with reliable connections.
The idea anyone needs to come into the office for a video call is "insane in 2020," Colangelo said. With a tech advantage, "we can enable as much remote work as humanly possible."
Certainly not every business can operate in a fully remote capacity, particularly in the engineering space or in companies with front line workers. In those cases, it's up to the business to respond with caution. If a company has delayed adopting a remote, mobile work strategy or does not have effective collaboration tools in place, they'll be playing catch up.