Ascential, a specialist information, data and insights company that enables smart decision-making for the world’s most ambitious businesses, was confronted with a challenge when the COVID-19 crisis began to intensify in March 2020. The timing of the pandemic coincided with the global company’s quarterly and, subsequently, half-year closure activities. Ascential was under pressure to ensure its business continuity as countries began going into lockdown.
The very nature of lockdown had necessitated an immediate need for timely and accurate industry insights and forecasts in digital commerce, given the sudden change in the marketplace and in consumption patterns. Against the backdrop of the pandemic, Ascential has played an important role offering such insights, anticipating trends, and creating competitive advantage for its customers.
TCS has been Ascential’s operations and technology partner for a decade. In the first week of March 2020, even before COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, TCS engaged with Ascential and started planning and identifying possible risks in financial operations due to the evolving global crisis. A dedicated, agile team was set up to engage with the Ascential team on potential risks, and to have all necessary approvals in place.
Moving to a Remote Work Environment
With the situation worsening across the globe by mid-March and the Indian government deciding to suspend international flights, TCS and Ascential decided to initiate remote working through Secure Borderless Workspaces (SBWS™). SBWS is TCS’ dedicated and exclusive process module to set up remote working. A strategy was established overnight and all prerequisites to set up remote work IT infrastructure were put in place. This early move helped the TCS team manage Ascential’s financial quarterly close in March. A delay in applying remote business continuity techniques, could have impacted Ascential’s mid-year closing in June, as well as its end customers.
India went into lockdown on March 23, 2020; three days later, TCS’ team for Ascential was 100% SBWS-ready. SBWS was enabled for 30 associates within just two days. The team ensured customer and supplier calls didn’t get missed by enabling voice support with call forwarding, and all project-specific deadlines were met.
Knowledge Transfer Projects Stay on Track
Ascential and TCS had been working to transition market research and analytics work for WGSN – Ascential’s global leading authority on consumer and design trends. The initial plan to roll out the knowledge transfer (KT) was now at risk due to global and domestic travel restrictions. TCS and Ascential had to re-design the transition plan and the KT strategy to enable the team to perform the transition remotely using an SBWS™ plan specifically designed for Ascential. The KT was successfully carried out remotely in a secure, virtual environment.
As businesses worldwide hit a reset against the backdrop of the pandemic, information, data and insights will have a key role to play in the decisions that will shape the future of industry and commerce. To this end, Ascential’s growth and transformation story stays on course, as the company maintains its digital focus to ensure that the information it provides continues to fuel ideation in the post-pandemic global marketplace.