Fleecing the Flu

The past few weeks have concentrated minds around the world as companies have looked closely at their disaster recovery policies and plans and found that most are woefully slack. Swine Flu (or Influenza A/H1N1) has become the first pandemic of the 21st century. Not much worse than the common cold and certainly not as deadly as bog-standard seasonal flu (for the moment), the escalating news stories and attendant tension, forced many firms to add pandemic to the list of possible disaster scenarios along with airplanes landing on facilities, dirty bombs and terrorist attack panics. Interestingly pandemic looks to be a far worse, and far more certain, disaster than many of the other normally considered scenarios. The problems, though tend to come with second and third order issues when staff can't get to work.

Firstly, it's difficult to get into a telecommuting mind set when staff normally come to the office - managers often can't cope and staff take advantage. But there's also the overwhelmed broadband and telephone infrastructure when millions of people who normally use big, beefy industrial-sized phone and internet lines shift to consumer broadband.

Then the third order problems kick in - who gets the home computer when both partners stay home to work? Who looks after the kids when the schools close and childminders/play-groups/nurseries/etc close? How do you contact customers, employees or suppliers who are on personal e-mail accounts because they can't connect through the corporate firewall due to inordinately paranoid (or lazy) IT sysadmins and/or parsimonious CFOs? How are regular or scheduled meetings held when folks can't meet face to face for an extended period of time? Does the company have remote meeting processes rehearsed? Many don't.

Indeed as many as half the companies surveyed in the square mile of the City of London wouldn't be able to cope with a disaster such as a dirty bomb which, in theory could be cleaned up in a week or so, much less an extended deadly flu pandemic which could last for over a year.

Interestingly, as a side note to a conversation today, we noted that MorganAlley had been designed from the start to operate in a virtual environment and could operate indefinitely from any premises with Internet access anywhere in the world. We have multiple layers of communications fallbacks and, in operational terms, have thoroughly stress-tested the disaster recovery aspect of catastrophic event including deadly pandemic. And we're happy to consult with our client base to build the same capability into their disaster recovery planning. Just get in touch.