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Volume 29, Issue 4

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Jon Seals

Peer-to-peer mobile networking technology enables organizations to reach more people in times of emergency, even when cellular networks are unavailable

 

SAN FRANCISCO – Open Garden announces today the release of FireChat Alerts, the first alerting service to leverage peer-to-peer mobile mesh networking technology. FireChat Alerts enables organizations to reach people on their smartphone, even when cellular networks and Internet access are unavailable.

 

As world leaders prepare for the upcoming World Humanitarian Summit, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recently published a report that highlighted how Honouring our commitment to leave no one behind requires reaching everyone in situations of conflict, disaster, vulnerability and risk.” FireChat Alerts was created for this purpose.

 

FireChat Alerts is a new application for mobile devices and the web, designed for governmental organizations, NGOs and media to broadcast ‘one-to-very-many’ alerts to mobile devices within a specific geographical area and period of time. FireChat Alerts acts as a resilient large-scale broadcasting system, reaching people’s smartphones to deliver text and visual information including early warning, emergency and health advisories, as well as weather and traffic information.

 

“Witnessing an average of 20 typhoons annually, everyone in the Philippines has a very keen interest in innovation that helps both in preparedness and response during and after emergencies,” said Gil Francis Arevalo, Community Engagement Officer of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) in the Philippines. "The technology behind FireChat Alerts has huge potential. We began exploring the possibilities with Open Garden as part of OCHA’s commitment to the members of the Community of Practice (CoP) on Community Engagement.”

 

Alerts are transmitted directly from one smartphone to the next via Open Garden’s peer-to-peer mesh networking technology. This is the first time that messages can transit through a brand new path: our own smartphones, instead of centralized networks. Each device can store and forward the alerts, allowing them to propagate and reach more and more people, and extending the reach of messages beyond the abilities of traditional networks.

“FireChat Alerts can reach more people than is possible via traditional networks, even when mobile apps or SMS cannot work. Since the technology is 100% software-based, it does not require any hardware or capital investments, is easy to deploy, and scales infinitely,” said Christophe Daligault, CMO of Open Garden. ”As an active member of the Community of Practice (CoP) on Community Engagement, we are extremely grateful for the collaboration with the UNOCHA and hope to raise awareness for the benefits of this new resilient technology."

 

People who have the FireChat messaging app on their smartphone receive the alerts as they spread within the designated area, even when cellular networks and Internet access are unavailable or congested, as is often the case in an emergency. Open Garden’s technology is also available as a Software Development Kit (SDK) for organizations who wish to enable peer-to-peer mobile communications in their own existing apps or services.

 

Open Garden Inc. will showcase FireChat Alerts at the United Nations World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul on May 23-24, 2016. For more information about the World Humanitarian Summit, please visit www.worldhumanitariansummit.org.

 

For more information about UNOCHA, please visit www.unocha.org.

 

For more information about FireChat Alerts, please visit www.opengarden.com/firechat-alerts or watch this short video.

 

About Open Garden & FireChat

Open Garden is a San Francisco-based startup dedicated to connecting the next 5 billion mobile devices with peer-to-peer connections. Open Garden is the creator of FireChat.

 

Often called the “people’s network,” FireChat is a free messaging app, available on iOS and Android devices. Built on revolutionary peer-to-peer mesh networking technology, FireChat allows people to communicate privately or publicly, with other people “offfline” even if they cannot connect to the Internet or to a cellular phone network.

 

Launched in March 2014, FireChat has reached the top 10 among social networking apps in 124 countries around the world. In 2015, FireChat received an Innovation Award at SXSW, the Boldness in Business Award by the Financial Times, and the Tech4Resilience Award by Making All Voices Count.


For more information about how FireChat works, please watch this short video.

Partnerships With Ciena, Electric Lightwave, Megaport, Opus Interactive and ScienceLogic Create a New Cloud Hub for the Greater Portland/Hillsboro Metro Area

HERNDON, Va. – EdgeConneX®, specializing in global data center solutions at the edge of the network, today announces the launch of its Portland Edge Data Center® Cloud Ecosystem with industry leaders including Ciena, Electric Lightwave, Megaport, Opus Interactive and ScienceLogic. The ecosystem provides EdgeConneX customers with on-demand, direct access to top cloud providers, the latest interconnection, infrastructure monitoring and performance measurement, as well as network access and managed services solutions. These partners enable customers to launch, manage and grow private, hybrid and public cloud environments with ease within a secure and reliable Edge Data Center environment. EdgeConneX also offers direct connectivity to Amazon Web Services (AWS) Direct Connect in its Portland Edge Data Center.

EdgeConneX's ecosystem partnership with Megaport allows customers to access the company's SDN-enabled elastic interconnection fabric that enables direct, seamless connectivity to AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform via an Application Program Interface (API). Opus Interactive aids EdgeConneX enterprise customers in their migration to the cloud, while managing their cloud infrastructure ongoing. ScienceLogic provides IT infrastructure monitoring and performance measurement services, assisting CIOs in the management of their infrastructure on a single pane of glass, no matter where the infrastructure may reside -- on premises, in colocation, or in the cloud. Electric Lightwave is the largest regional fiber provider in the west, offering network access to the cloud and private connectivity options that provide greater cloud security and lower latency for customers. Ciena is a market leader in creating customized solutions that assist customers in the management of complex optical and Ethernet technologies. These collective partnerships, along with others underway, position the Portland Edge Data Center as the region's most prominent cloud hub and the only way in which to locally reach AWS Direct Connect and Azure by Microsoft.

To celebrate the first ecosystem of its kind in a major metro market outside of the nine major peering locations across the U.S., EdgeConneX is hosting an event on Thursday, May 19, at the leftbank annex in Portland from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. (please RSVP here). The company welcomes the attendance of those in the greater Portland / Hillsboro metro area that are eager to learn about when to take their business to the cloud.

"With the launch of the cloud ecosystem in our Portland Edge Data Center, EdgeConneX is making it easier for customers to reach the cloud and take advantage of industry-leading cloud technologies that will build and support a comprehensive cloud solution, all in one secure edge location," states Clint Heiden, chief commercial officer, EdgeConneX. "In five short years, cloud traffic will escalate to unprecedented levels, making access to innovative cloud service providers and partners a vital component to realizing a company's strategic and commercial objectives."

The move toward pushing content and information closer to the edge of the network is one that has been predicted by many industry experts. Specifically, in a report titled "The Edge Manifesto: Digital Business, Rich Media, Latency Sensitivity and the Use of Distributed Data Centers" (July 2015), Gartner analyst Bob Gill predicted that "the topology of networked data centers will move over the next five years from a centralized, 'mega data center' approach, to one augmented by multiple, smaller, distributed sources of content and information."

For more information about EdgeConneX and its leading Edge of network infrastructure solutions for expanding and improving access to wireless and data communications, visit: edgeconnex.com or email info@edgeconnex.com.

About EdgeConneX®
EdgeConneX® is the only global Edge Data Center® provider. Creating purpose-built, edge-of-network infrastructure solutions that extend the Internet's reach, EdgeConneX enables the fastest and most secure delivery of content, cloud services and applications. Edge Data Centers host bandwidth intensive and latency sensitive data closer to end-users, establishing a more secure, reliable and cost effective distribution model for the Internet. For more information, please visit the EdgeConneX Internet of Everywhere® at edgeconnex.com.

It’s been nearly a year since Rackspace announced Fanatical Support for Microsoft Azure, which we launched to assist customers who want to run IaaS workloads on the powerful Azure cloud, but prefer not to architect, secure and operate them firsthand.

Our launch of this offering marked an important expansion of our strategy to offer the world’s best expertise and service on industry-leading technologies, and is a natural progression of our 14-year relationship with Microsoft.

As momentum continues to build with our Azure customers here in the U.S., we’re now pleased to offer the same service and support to an even larger customer base, with the Unlimited Availability launch of Fanatical Support for Azure across our European regions: UK, Benelux and DACH.

...

http://blog.rackspace.com/expanding-fanatical-support-microsoft-azure/

Study Shows Legacy Decisions, Technology and Perceptions Are Impacting Innovation and Business Performance

 

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Brocade (NASDAQ: BRCD) today launched the results of its latest global study ‘Unlocking the Power of Digital Transformation: Freeing IT from Legacy Constraints’, which identifies that businesses are missing opportunities to unlock innovation more quickly and more effectively due to legacy technology and historical misperceptions about the role of IT departments. According to the report, more than 70% of IT teams felt that if they had more opportunity to be flexible in their approach to technology, benefits would include increased competitiveness (36%), more time to focus on innovation (31%), the elimination of shadow IT (30%), a 12% increase in revenue and 10% decrease in costs over the next 12 months.

 

It wasn’t supposed to be this way…

The new study, that looked at the current state and perceptions of the IT department in U.K, U.S., Germany, Singapore, France and Australia, reveals that daily tasks, such as maintaining data security and privacy and legacy systems, are taking so much time (73% and 63% cited as taking most time respectively), that opportunities to innovate and transform are being missed in many businesses. In addition, 72% of respondents felt frustrated when the IT department could not readily deliver what the business demanded.

 

“For the last two decades, legacy IT infrastructure held back businesses from innovating on their terms. The IT department has found itself having to say ‘no’ to new business opportunities too often. It wasn’t supposed to be that way,” said Christine Heckart, chief marketing officer and senior vice president of ecosystems, Brocade. “Modern New IP technologies unlock the power of the network as a platform for innovation enabling the IT department to be able to say ‘yes’ to all kinds of business opportunities that surface daily in today’s era of digital transformation. The network is the critical key to unlocking the power of digital transformation and freeing the IT department from legacy constraints that hinder innovation.”

 

Freedom from legacy ‘lights on’ approach critical to future innovation and performance

While digital transformation is a big priority, IT professionals are faced with making trade-offs that impact their ability to embrace new technologies and approaches. Eighty-seven percent of respondents are currently adopting digital transformation strategies, with 94% claiming their CIO views this as vital to achieving business objectives, yet almost four fifths (79%) state they are restricted in their ability to support it adequately. This is due to lack of budget (49%), security concerns (43%), the inflexibility of current systems (26%), and the time drain of maintaining legacy systems (22%). More alarmingly, almost a third (29%) of respondents say that the limits of legacy technology are preventing their organisation’s IT department from delivering even on immediate business demands, let alone enabling innovation for the future.

 

Unlocking the door to better future business performance

Perhaps unsurprisingly, 88% identified situations in the last year where the IT team has had to defer or decline requests that would have clearly benefitted the business, with over half (53%) saying that these situations resulted in missing short-term business benefits and 72% missed long-term benefits. According to the report, more than 70% of IT teams felt that if they had more opportunity to be flexible in their approach to technology, there would be clear business benefits, including increased competitiveness (36%), more time to focus on innovation (31%), and the elimination of shadow IT (30%). Respondents also claimed that the business’ bottom line would benefit, projecting that the ability to innovate to a greater degree could result, on average, a 12% increase in revenue and a 10% decrease in costs over the next 12 months.

 

Supporting Quotes:

Christine Heckart, chief marketing officer and senior vice president of ecosystems, Brocade, said:

“We know from experience, and our report confirms, how critical IT is to enabling innovation, but too many businesses are restricted in their ability to adopt digital transformation and drive this change. It’s clear that if IT departments could spend less time ‘keeping the lights on’, then they could devote more time to creating value, reducing costs and increasing revenues. Organizations need to be more fluid with their uptake and deployment of technology.”

 

“As companies move to digitize their businesses, they need an underlying network infrastructure that allows them to innovate quickly. We believe the network must become a platform for innovation to develop, deliver and secure applications. This is best achieved through implementing network architectures that are software-centric, open and agile, such as the New IP.”

 

“Unlocking the Power of Digital Transformation: Freeing IT from Legacy Constraints’ is available for download from Brocade’s website. The research was conducted by independent research house Vanson Bourne in April 2016. 630 decision-makers in organizations with more than 500 employees in the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Singapore and Australia were surveyed.

 

Additional Resources

About Brocade

Brocade (NASDAQ: BRCD) networking solutions help the world’s leading organizations turn their networks into platforms for business innovation. With solutions spanning public and private data centers to the network edge, Brocade is leading the industry in its transition to the New IP network infrastructures required for today’s era of digital business. (www.brocade.com)

The Business Continuity Institute - May 16, 2016 15:11 BST

This year’s Business Continuity Awareness Week theme got me thinking about what return on investment means to me. The question of what business continuity is worth to an organization has been around for at least as long as I have been practising and probably longer. When I first got into BC in 1989, the major Canadian Bank I was working for had recently concluded a huge initiative to build a second data centre, at a cost of $20 million, a tidy sum in those days. With the creation of a second site, built explicitly to house Development and provide disaster recovery for technology, the focus shifted to business recovery and the development of unit plans to address disruption of business functions.

I was not involved in the original cost benefit analysis to justify investment in a state-of-the-art, oversized data centre, featuring lots of redundancy throughout its infrastructure. But I do recall from subsequent discussions that management had no trouble convincing the Board that the outlay was well worth it, just to mitigate the obvious risk of having all systems housed in a single facility without back-up. There was no risk department in those days, so the decision to proceed was not a formal outcome from a risk assessment, just top management applying sound business judgment.

Fast forward a few years and I was now working for a new company providing data processing for multiple banks. Having started off with multiple data centres, thus providing layers of redundancy, the company’s mission was to save money by closing down as many of them as possible and achieving economies of scale to improve the bottom line. That cost benefit analysis must have seemed highly attractive, from a profit standpoint, but what went missing in the strategy was a risk-based perspective on how the downsizing initiative was progressively compromising recovery capabilities. The ultimate irony struck in 1999 when the company decided to downsize its head office staff by 10 per cent in one swipe, to provide expense relief and improve its bottom line, for its owner banks. So my whole department of three was made redundant – no more business continuity function! Simultaneously it was a humiliation and a silver lining. Who wants to work in a company with such narrow vision?

Ever onwards... a few years later still I was working for a financial utility providing clearing and settlement for the exchanges and securities industry. By now, BCM was squarely aligned with risk and top management understood. Investment in good DRP and BCP was a given and under heavy regulatory scrutiny, we were continually seeking improvements. What a joy to work in a company where 2-hour RTO and synchronous data mirroring (0 RPO) were embraced as smart business practices.

Soon after I arrived there, we experienced one of the biggest power failures ever in North America. On the 14th August 2003, an area 1,000 miles wide and a population of 50 million lost grid power on a hot summer afternoon. Happily for us, the failure occurred 11 minutes after completion of the daily settlement cycle, so $250 billion of payments were safe and sound. Two immediate observations: our diesel generators (data centre and office) did their job, so all critical equipment and key business staff remained functional. Had the failure occurred earlier, before the deadline, we would probably have been alright anyway, perhaps experiencing a minor delay in completion of the settlement.

Even though we avoided major impact from that disruptive event, thanks to smart investment in power redundancy and lucky timing, I was embarrassed years later when a Toronto newspaper published a supplement on disaster recovery and featured my experience as a lead story. Front page headline: “Rising from the Blackout.” Sub-title: “How Des O’Callaghan saved his company – and billions of dollars – in the power outage of 2003 with business continuity planning.”

In the inside article “Keeping your cool in meltdown mode,” I received undeserved plaudits for how the incident was handled. The truth is the main reasons we were unscathed were decisions previously made to invest in risk mitigation by implementing high end systems, advanced storage solutions and power redundancy. Yes, we did a good job of managing the crisis and communicating with stakeholders, but I did not actually save the organization a penny. I have come to realize that ROI on business continuity really is just the protection of an organization from unacceptable impacts of adverse events.

Investment in BCM should be viewed in the same way that we regard 'investment' in human resources, or the legal department, or technology infrastructure, or building insurance. Running a healthy, resilient enterprise requires investment based on prudent business judgment, not just financial expenditure. Should we be smart with how we spend money? Of course, but allocation of real resources to strengthen operations and mitigate risk should be considered on the same plane as other investments, such as recruitment, training, marketing and many other corporate expenses. Anything contributing to organizational resilience is a worthwhile investment.

Des O'Callaghan FBCI is one of the leaders of the BCI's Greater Toronto Area Forum and a member of the BCI's Global Membership Council

New research by industry-leading think tank reveals that most organizations cannot ensure protection and access for critical long-term digital information despite accelerating legal and business requirements; IGI Industry Benchmark calls for immediate action & provides insight and guidance to help organizations achieve compliance

 

New research has revealed that the majority of organizations do not have a coherent long-term strategy for their vital digital information even though virtually all of them (98%) are required to keep information for ten years or longer. Further, while 97% of information professionals understand the need for a specialized approach to these assets, only 11% are storing them in systems specifically designed to ensure long-term protection and access. This gap has economic, legal, and business competitiveness implications.

 

The research, conducted by think tank the Information Governance Initiative (IGI) with support from Preservica, provides a new benchmark for organizations to evaluate their capability and outlines tactics for closing this critical gap. It also reports on how leading organizations like Associated Press, HSBC, and the State of Texas have addressed this challenge.

 

The Governance of Long-Term Digital Information: IGI 2016 Benchmark also reveals that information management professionals charged with addressing this problem are highly aware (97%) of the unique challenge of opening, using, and relying upon digital files over the long-term. Namely, that accelerating innovation and technology refresh rates mean that software and hardware can be obsolete, making the information unusable, long before an organization’s legal need or business requirement to keep and use that information expires.

 

However, most organizations appear to lack a coherent strategy to solve this problem. An alarming majority of organizations (68%), for example, rely on shared network drives to store these assets, a technology that offers no inherent capabilities to protect or ensure access over the long-term.

 

“Every day it becomes easier and cheaper to store digital information,” said Barclay T. Blair, executive director and founder of IGI. “But every day we also see an intensification of global legal and business obligations to protect and provide long-term access to these critical assets. Our Benchmark shows that virtually every organization large and small across industry verticals faces this problem, but awareness of how to solve it is low. This concerns us.”

 

“It is great to see forward-thinking organizations in this report, such as HSBC, Texas State Archives and the Associated Press, leading the way in adopting digital preservation as a core facet of their information governance strategies,” commented Jon Tilbury, CEO at Preservica. “However, this research tells us that most organizations are still at significant risk when it comes to safeguarding their vital long-term digital information.”

Preservica’s support has enabled the IGI to make the full Benchmark available for immediate download at no cost. It is available now at: www.preservica.com/resource/long-term-records-preservation

 

The IGI and Preservica are running an online event to discuss the key findings of the Benchmark on the 8th of June 2016 at 11am EST, 4pm UK.

 

The IGI is supported by a number of leading information governance providers, and aims to promote the adoption of information governance strategies in the protection of corporate data. Preservica’s partnership with the IGI demonstrates the growing importance of digital preservation in the overall information governance lifecycle, ensuring that data is findable, useable and trustworthy long into the future.

 

About the IGI:

The Information Governance Initiative (IGI) is a think tank and community dedicated to advancing the adoption of Information Governance (IG) practices and technologies through research, events, advocacy and peer-to-peer networking. We are dedicated to the professionalization of IG and have called for the creation of a new kind of information leader called the Chief Information Governance Officer. The IGI Community is where thousands of practitioners from cybersecurity, IT, analytics, privacy, legal, records management, and the other facets of IG come together and learn from each other. The IGI was founded by recognized leaders in the field of IG, and is supported by leading providers of IG products and services.

 

About Preservica

Preservica is a world leader in digital preservation technology, consulting and research. Our active preservation solutions are used by leading businesses, archives, libraries, museums and government organizations globally, to safeguard and share valuable digital content, collections and electronic records, for decades to come. These include 17 US State Archives, the European Commission, Wellcome Library and HSBC, to name a few.

Preservica’s award-winning digital preservation and access software is a complete, standards-based (OAIS ISO 14721) trusted repository that includes connectors to leading Enterprise Content and Records Management systems to ensure long-term usability, trustworthiness and preservation of vital digital records, emails and content.

Visit: www.preservica.com

Enhances analytics, visualization and optimization features, Eclipse support, general availability of new processor and communications modules

 

CAMBRIDGE, United Kingdom – UltraSoC today announced the latest version of its advanced semiconductor IP and software tools for SoC development, debug, optimization and hardware security. The latest release in UltraSoC’s continuous development program includes extended support for data analytics and visualization, improved performance monitoring and system optimization capabilities, enhanced integration with third-party tool-chains, improved support for functional safety applications, and General Availability (GA) of new analytics and communications IP.

 

As the cost of developing complex SoCs continues to rise, and the business risks from schedule slippage become larger, the industry has realized that better tools for debug, verification and optimization are critical.

The advent of emulation and prototyping platforms has eased pre-silicon tasks, but post-silicon verification and optimization remains a major challenge for the industry. UltraSoC addresses this challenge.

 

Many of the new capabilities and features are in software and tools – particularly in interfacing and supporting standard development environments. Specifically:

  • Richer support for analytics and visualization, leading to the use of “Big Data” techniques for debugging and development
  • New tools and analysis capabilities to assist in performance monitoring and system optimization
  • Enhanced support for developers using Python scripts to interact with UltraSoC IP for post-processing, analytics and visualization
  • Migration to Eclipse version 4.5 (“Mars”) with all the capabilities that come from an industry standard IDE
  • Support for the GDB industry standard open-source debugger
  • Direct integration with Lauterbach’s industry standard TRACE32 development environment
  • Direct integration with the new version of CEVA’s toolchain for CEVA DSP

New hardware and semiconductor IP capabilities include:

  • Enhanced Processor Analytic Modules to interface to MIPS and CEVA cores for debugging, trace and run-control. These complement the existing ARM and Xtensa core support
  • Capability to support other cores, including the open-source RISC V core
  • Support for ECC, parity and check sum logic, important for high-reliability systems. This is a key part of UltraSoC’s capabilities to support functional safety, automotive and ISO26262
  • General availability of the new Universal Streaming Communicator (USC) that enables a variety of interface and communication systems to the SoC, including serial wire debug style communication and a high speed SerDes interface

“UltraSoC is committed to an aggressive program of continuous development for our products,” said Rupert Baines, UltraSoC CEO. “Our technology helps SoC developers to understand how their chip really operates post-silicon: simplifying software development, accelerating time-to-market, fixing bugs and optimizing performance. The new capabilities we are announcing today, engineered in response to extensive customer feedback and experience in the field, represent another step forward in the paradigm shift we are enabling in SoC design; improved analytics and visualization; addressing a far wider range of hardware applications; and giving SoC teams complete freedom in their choice of development flow and tools.”

 

UltraSoC’s suite of silicon IP allows designers to create an on-chip infrastructure that non-intrusively monitors the digital aspects of the chip’s behavior – both hardware and software. The engineering team can gain a much more intimate understanding of the often complex interactions between diverse on-chip processor blocks, custom logic, and system software. These capabilities are valuable both in development and in-field, when they can be used to spot unexpected behavior caused by bugs or by malicious interference, and to analyze performance trends.

 

UltraSoC was recently named by Gartner Inc as one of its “Cool Vendors” in the Embedded Software and Systems market; and recognized by Mishcon de Reya and City AM in its Leap 100 list of the UK’s most exciting, fast-growth companies. Last fall the company was named Best New Company at the 2015 Elektra Awards.

 

About UltraSoC

UltraSoC is an independent provider of SoC infrastructure that enables rapid development of embedded systems based on advanced SoC devices. The company is headquartered in Cambridge, United Kingdom. For more information visit www.ultrasoc.com

The Business Continuity Institute - May 15, 2016 19:04 BST

In mythology, the Muses were nine goddesses who symbolised the arts and sciences. Today, a muse is a person who serves as an artist’s inspiration to produce the best work they can.

Utilising this device is quite useful when I am developing and writing BC plans on behalf of organisations and departments. I find it helps to focus the plan.

Whether the organisation is one of manufacture or of service delivery, I have two muses in mind.

They are both anxious people.

The first is the person that has called and needs one of the organisation's key services or products.

The second is the person who works for the organisation and has to deliver that key service using the business continuity plan.

For me, business continuity is as simple as that, and all about people. Everything else comes from looking after the two muses. Profitability, sustainability, market share and all of the other things attached to business and services follow on from this approach.

I think that in order to get the best value and return on investment from BCM, we have to be in it for the long term. One might even call it, investing for the future.

Organisations may well see an immediate short term ROI if they face an early disruption and the BC plan comes through. Many teams would see this as a result, and be happy. However, this kind of result may well be what we are looking for in a plan, but in my view simple recovery is a superficial return, and not where the real added value lies.

So what then is the real value of BCM?

Well, a long term BCM programme can produce:

  • Social capital from the workforce
  • A loyal customer base
  • A reliable and trustworthy reputation
  • Team Confidence to face the slings and arrows of the real world
  • Customer confidence
  • Organisational strength

Now that is priceless.

John Ball AFBCI is the Business Continuity Coordinator at Sussex and Surrey Police.

Monday, 16 May 2016 00:00

BCI: More than money

The Business Continuity Institute - May 15, 2016 14:22 BST

If you could imagine, a rubber ducky inside a plastic paddling pool full of water, in an emergency control centre made during the cold war. This image might not automatically trigger thoughts of a professional business continuity exercise, however that’s exactly what it was. As a local authority our approach to business continuity is a little different; 1) because we have a statutory duty to do it and 2) because we don’t tend to focus on money and profit in the same way a private company would – but that’s not to say that we don’t still get a return on our BC investments.

Back to the rubber ducky, this scenario was part of an exercise we ran with our internal museums service to test what they would do if some of their artefacts were water damaged. (Don’t worry we didn’t actually use any real artefacts… they wouldn’t let us). It helped test practices and procedures, but most importantly it highlighted to those staff playing the importance of their BC plans for the company as a whole, and ultimately their livelihoods.

Often when people think about business continuity they tend to think about saving big bucks and less about the costs which are not monetary based. There is a phrase that habitually goes around the BC community that £1 spent on preparedness will save £8 on response, and whilst I don’t doubt that is true, often it is hard to find out whether or not that is the case.

Using the example above there was very little in regards to investment (a borrowed child’s paddling pool and a few buckets of water), however the return on investment could very well be priceless as most of the artefacts in the museum are irreplaceable. Knowing what to do, who to call and how to achieve their plans is crucial in any response and goes to show that BC really does add more value that can be recorded on a ledger.

Livelihoods is something which often doesn’t get mentioned as prominently, we focus on getting the business back up and running, but don’t appreciate that if that doesn’t occur people will lose their jobs, their houses and their ability to cope with financial pressures. During our duty officer roles here at the local authority, we come across a wide range of emergencies that often dip into the realms of business continuity.

How can you put a price on a life? More importantly how would you quantify what you have invested versus the cost of a life. I suppose the answer is that you can’t (granted that might not be what the budget holders out there want to hear). Fire emergencies have been topical across the West Midlands recently with a number of major scrap yard fires. We’ve worked closely with our fire service colleagues to help produce robust and dovetailing BC plans to help ensure that their potentially life-saving services can be maintained during disruptive events and that we can provide wider support if needed. Without the investment of time, money and expertise these plans wouldn’t have been achieved. Sure the investment may be larger here, but still not significant. Producing and maintaining a plan won’t break the bank and when the result is the continued provision of life-saving skills, ultimately the investment return is worth far more than just money.

Within local government, making money is not as high on our agenda as it is for private companies but what we do achieve is significant. The services that we provide to the people within our patch can be life changing, ranging from social housing to providing a fire fighting service and all of which requires robust BC plans, as the alternative is not worth thinking about. We work hard to strive for these plans, and can offer our expertise and time to assist those private companies so that all our communities can be resilient and prepared.

Josh Adams is the Resilience Officer, and Tom Knibbs is the Senior Resilience Officer, for the Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire Resilience Team

The Business Continuity Institute - May 14, 2016 14:32 BST

What’s the ROI on that?” is one of the most common questions management ask when evaluating business programmes and projects. When it comes to business continuity programmes, the answer is often “Well, there’s not really any ROI unless you experience a major disaster, and we haven’t experienced one yet.

Because of this perceived lack of immediate value, budgets often get diverted away from business continuity to other projects that produce more tangible results. In fact, 49% of businesses don’t even have a comprehensive business continuity plan, leaving their entire company at risk because of the lack of an obvious ROI.

But what you may not realize is that your business continuity programme is almost guaranteed to produce ROI for the following two key reasons.

Disasters are increasing in frequency

Research from ITS reveals that floods and severe storms – such as Desmond and Katie – are increasing in frequency and have the potential to cost billions of pounds in damage. Even seemingly mundane incidents such as burst pipes have also proven disruptive to UK businesses. In July 2015, for example, a burst pipe cut power to the Royal Berkshire Hospital and caused flooding, resulting in the A&E closing to all but critical patients.

Investing in the forward planning required to cope with these incidents can save valuable time, protect the organisation’s revenue and preserve its customer base. Advance planning also gives you time to test the solutions you’ve invested in to help keep your business moving forward.

Today many businesses believe 'set it and forget it' disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) solutions provide enough protection from disasters. However, simply moving data off-site isn’t enough to protect your IT infrastructure. To avoid wasting money on a product that doesn’t work in the face of a disaster, it’s important to work with your DRaaS provider to test the solution and have a plan for coping with power outages and other consequences of a disaster.

Business continuity planning improves your day-to-day operations

While having a business continuity programme can help you protect your revenue after a man-made or natural disaster, you don’t have to experience a disaster to reap the benefits.

The foundation of a profitable business continuity programme is the business impact analysis (BIA). During this process, you’ll assess and prioritize critical business processes, employee roles and technology. As you take a closer look at the inner workings of your business, you’re likely to discover new opportunities for cost savings or even revenue generation. If you work with a consultant who can provide an objective business continuity assessment, you’re likely to find areas for improvement within your company.

Here are just a few ways business continuity planning can help you realize ROI on a day-to-day basis:

  • Identify and phase out archaic processes, such as those involving paper-based workflows and manual data entry.
  • Shorten project and revenue cycles by eliminating unnecessary touchpoints in critical processes.
  • Decrease vendor investments by identifying products and services that can be bundled, thus reducing the number of vendors you work with.

As you can see, having a business continuity programme in place helps you protect your revenue in case you’re affected by a disaster (and the odds of being affected by one are increasing as disasters become more frequent). But business continuity planning isn’t just about preparing for disasters. An effective plan can help you make your processes more efficient, reduce revenue cycles and streamline vendor management.

You’ve been warned: skimping on your BC/DR budget might not save you the money you think it will.

Matt Kingswood is the UK Head of ITS