We sat down with Brother CIO Basil Fuchs to talk about IT Resilience

Interview with the CIO - IT resilience and why you need a plan for 2023

Basil Fuchs, CIO for Brother International Europe was drawn to a career in IT after teaching himself to code as a child in the 80s.

Today, he is responsible for European IT delivery and overseeing digital and data-led innovation from the company’s European Head office in Manchester. 

We caught up with Basil to find out why resilience planning is essential for 2023, or find out more about how you can ensure your business is prepared. 
Photo of Brother CIO Basil Fuchs

What inspired you to work in the IT sector?

As a child I had access to a Commodore 64, and I was that kid that programmed games during school breaks. So, I was quite drawn to the computer from an early age and discovered the business side of IT later. Before I joined Brother, I worked in the IT department for the Swiss Army, which was an interesting time.
How long have you worked at Brother and in what roles?  

I started as an IT manager at Brother (Switzerland) where I was engaged in multiple roles working across Europe, before moving to Manchester from Switzerland in 2011. I specifically joined Brother Europe as a portfolio manager and today I'm responsible for European IT delivery as CIO.
Why is IT resilience so important?  IT resilience is the ability to keep essential IT infrastructure, systems, and applications up and running despite disasters and disruptions. It is important because it protects your data and reduces the risk of downtime and potential data loss. 
Who is responsible for IT resilience and how does it link with business resilience?  Brother think of IT resilience as risk management and information management. As an IT professional we are closely aligned with corporate risk management and the continuity of the business because we are enabling so many processes.

The outsourcing partner and IT partners are specialists in that area and our task as internal IT is to orchestrate the resilience. This means planning across all participants and ensuring that they're all aligned and at the same level. 

Maintaining IT resilience is a shared responsibility across management, employees, and partners. Ultimately, everyone has a role to play in making the organisation more resilient to disruptions. For example, it is vital to build a resilient workforce that are aware of IT risks and can become part of the solution through ongoing training and business support.  
What sort of measures did Brother have in place prior to COVID-19?A global pandemic and lockdown were not scenarios that Brother had planned for, but we were able to transition to remote working due to the IT resilience plans in place.  

The pandemic was a unique situation, so the closest comparison is the tabletop exercises that we do each year. Here the management team play through certain scenarios that might happen, or has happened to other companies, to test our response. Through that we create learnings for the organisation on what we could do better if that real situation occurred.
How did Brother respond to the COVID-19 pandemic?Brother Europe moved to remote work quickly and were able to do so with confidence because of the tools and online platforms that we had launched. There was a transition period where we had hybrid working and certain access was needed to the physical premises for systems that weren't yet running on the cloud.

Also, what we thought would be huge issues, such as access to computer systems, were not necessarily the biggest challenges. It was more around our people’s personal safety and personal security and circumstances. It was making sure they had a webcam or an office chair at home if they didn’t already have one.
What have you learned about IT resilience as a business? It’s a natural evolution. Each year Brother carries out disaster recovery, check that the backup works and that the systems can be restarted or moved to a different location should there be a bigger disaster. More modern approaches include augmenting that regular review with more planned scenarios to not only react to something, but look at how we could improve our systems pro-actively. 

The pandemic has likewise influenced how we create new services and products. For example, we improved Brother Managed Print Services, to better help customers boost their IT resilience, productivity, and reduce costs in the new hybrid world of work. 
How has it shaped your approach to IT resilience for the future?We can't plan for everything, that’s a big lesson. It’s important to have flexibility and a team that is empowered to act on their own, and quickly, within the guardrails we set. Also, the ability to use more of our partners and managed services, such as managed print, to offload some of the burden from IT.
What are the biggest challenges that IT decision-makers face today?  These days the IT landscape is much more complex. It used to be that everything was in the data centre, and that's what we used to protect. Now we have computing from home, on the road and in the cloud. Therefore, it is important to establish good governance and easy to understand guidelines that can help everyone manage information with confidence.
What three things would you say they need to prioritise to ensure IT resilience?Many factors can contribute to IT resilience. The three things that I would say we need to prioritise are:

Security: IT resilience depends on protecting information and systems from unauthorised access, breaches, and theft. We do this by investing in processes and technologies such as encryption, authentication, firewall and antivirus software. Furthermore, educating employees on best practices for cyber security, such as using strong passwords and avoiding phishing emails is essential.

Flexibility: Resilience depends on being able to adapt to changing needs and circumstances. This requires using technologies that enable mobile workloads. It also requires designing a resilient IT environment. One that can manage disruptions or performance impacts and restore availability quickly. I advise that you challenge your readiness with regular disaster recovery tests and risk-based planning.

Collaboration: Having a strong network of dependable people within and outside the organisation is fundamental for ensuring a resilient IT organisation. This necessitates processes that facilitate communication and coordination among different teams and stakeholders. It also requires establishing trust, accountability and transparency among leaders and employees. Be sure that your business continuity plans are aligned with your IT resilience tactics.

Want to know more about how Brother can provide for your business? Get in Touch. Or alternatively, check out ourtop tips for building an effective IT resilience plan


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