Company embedded in NZ's supply chain says businesses are adapting fast to the crisis.

Fashion brands are using their perfume and production lines to make hand sanitisers and delivering them free of charge to health authorities in France and Italy. A 3D printing company has started manufacturing respiratory valves for ventilators.

In New Zealand, some distilleries have switched some capacity from brewing beer to making hand sanitiser while a group of 3D print owners have designed and are printing low-cost face shields for front line essential staff.

These examples show businesses and leaders thinking outside the box and pulling together to help in a crisis.

And it's that kind of innovative, can-do thinking businesses need as they face their toughest challenge for generations, says John Mazenier, country leader, New Zealand, DXC Technology.

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A leading global IT services and solutions company, DXC is deeply embedded in the supply chain of New Zealand, whether it be goods and services, government, access to citizens, our electricity grid, healthcare and essential social services.

Out of the 15 categories the government has specified as "essential services", DXC operates in 13.

"We've been running business continuity practices for key clients for weeks because we could see the situation deteriorating rapidly," says Mazenier. "Staff safety is a primary concern as is ensuring we're able to provide continuity of service for our clients - many of whom now fall in the category of essential services."

Mazenier believes smart businesses can learn and innovate in this crisis: "Businesses are lowering the guard rails and being very pragmatic. They're asking themselves essential questions – 'If we can't continue to deliver the service as it was, what alternate ways are there in the current environment?'"

He says digital solutions will play a key role, both in dealing with the crisis and underpinning businesses' eventual recovery – perhaps even to the point of re-invention.

"We're working on a number of projects with clients that involve implementing automation technologies and deriving insights from data that will help in the fight against Covid-19."

UBTECH Robotics is a company DXC has been working with in Australia on a on a robotic Pandemic Response Unit (PRU) which can be deployed to prevent cross-infection.

The robot can monitor the temperature of up to 200 people per minute, greatly improving efficiency and lowering the risk of medical worker infection.

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"It's a really exciting project and we have trials set to begin imminently."

Another initiative – leveraging technology deployed in Italy – is to help health care agencies quickly engage with populations in accordance with published Covid-19 assessment protocols and coordinate care services at scale. DXC is working with Dedalus, a European leader in healthcare IT systems, to offer rapid deployment of this citizen engagement platform to organisations in New Zealand and Australia.

DXC has also helped businesses implement and update business contingency plans and established two rapid deployment centres in New Zealand and Australia, enabling clients to re-deploy their workforce into work-from-home environments during the COVID-19 crisis.

"I think, if anything, this crisis is going to draw communities and teams together," says Mazenier. "We're seeing more focus on practical things rather than hype and sensation.

"The firefighting aspects of this crisis make it very real for businesses. The discussion we are having at a senior level is 'what is the minimum viable service level we can get to and still provide products and services and maintain the functioning of society?'"

"We're also seeing a desire, and need, for organisations to revise contractual obligations and review service level parameters in light of the crisis; businesses are looking up and down their supply chains to make it happen."

Businesses are more receptive to new ways of working: "Our clients are asking us, 'are there ways we can adapt what we do currently? Are there different things we can look to implement or is there extra capability we can tap into or provide in a virtual sense?'"

He anticipates one result of the crisis will be businesses co-operating on a common goal.
"Smart leaders will be asking themselves what they can put in place to leverage other organisations - even competitors. They'll also be asking how to leverage those organisations to provide continuity of service. I think we'll see competitors working with one another to drive a better result."

On the other hand, some businesses are realising they aren't as ready as they could be. Institutions or organisations not effectively addressing the current environment may struggle to survive, therefore readiness and agility are key.

"The fact that individuals and small businesses were able to adapt to the government's policy changes from day one was a phenomenal achievement and a testament to all involved. I'm proud to say DXC played a pivotal part in that."

His final message to business leaders is to look ahead; times are tough now but the recovery will come: "Businesses are realising it's critical to build tolerance and resilience into their operations. This will ensure the business will recover quicker when we come through the other side."