The 11th Annual Corporate Contingency Planning Seminar (Spring World 2000) is designed to provide business continuity information to planners of all experience levels. It is the 22nd conference sponsored by Disaster Recovery Journal. This year's conference co-sponsors were Ajilon, Comdisco, DRI International, Hitachi Data Systems, IBM, and Private and Public Businesses, Inc. Event sponsors were: Dialogic Communications Corporation for the Mock Disaster Exercise; and Wang Recovery Services, Inc. for the Cyber Cafe. IBM and Strohl Systems were the hosts of the Monday evening hospitality.
DRJ's previous record number of attendees was 1,600 in 1999. According to Richard Arnold, CBCP, president of Disaster Recovery Journal, the continued growth of these conferences is a strong indicator of the strength of the business continuity industry on the whole.
'During my 10+ years of sponsoring disaster recovery conferences, I've noticed a continued growth throughout the business continuity industry. The growth has really come on strong in the past few years. I believe part of the success has to be contributed to the Year 2000 issue, but I also believe the growth has come because companies throughout the world are finally realizing the importance of being prepared.'
Mr. Arnold continued, 'In today's business market, companies are more dependent upon each other. E-commerce, the internet and global communications are making it imperative for all industries to do their part in being prepared.'
Mr. Arnold credited the success of DRJ's conference to several factors. The conference offers a wide variety of subjects in its General Sessions, Breakout Sessions and Workshop Sessions. This allows attendees to choose the topics in which they are most interested. In addition, the conference is geared towards all experience levels, from beginners to advanced planners.
'It (the conference) was excellent for me - someone new to the field, and looking for ideas, ' said attendee James Coleman of DuPont.
'The general sessions were well laid out,' said attendee Dale Masser with the Bureau of Public Debt. 'The breakout sessions were well defined and made the conference very beneficial. The breakout sessions allowed for tailoring to most individual's goals and needs.'
This year's eight general sessions, held on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, covered a variety of topics. Topics included: a humorous motivational speech by Jim Pelley, Lessons Learned at the Ford-Rouge Facility Explosion by Michael Wansa and Larry Wenzel, The Next Generation of Planning by Jim Simmons, Applying Lessons Learned from Y2K by Chris Jesse, The Next Continuity Revolution by Don DeMarco, The Human Factor of Business Continuity Planning by Steve Timmons, and Parking in the Handi-Can't Zone by Barry Pruitt.
General Session 5 featured a panel discussion with John Jackson, Comdisco, Todd Gordon, IBM, and Jim Simmons, SunGard Recovery Services. The topic was After Y2K - Where Do We Go From Here and the session was moderated by David Cozzens, E&Y, LLP. Each panelist began with a brief description of their company's Y2K experiences and their thoughts on the future of business continuity. All three panelists credited the easy transition into the new millennium to the huge contribution of individual continuity planners throughout the industry. Without the dedication and excellent preparation of these individuals, the Y2K problem could have been a much more serious problem, said the panelists. The panelists urged audience members to use their success as a stepping off point to conquer even greater business continuity issues in the future. Following the initial discussion, audience members were able to question the panelists on a wide variety of topics. Each panelist was able to give their perspectives on the questions. Many audience members later said that having the three panelists from different continuity providers offered them a good view of the industry as a whole.
Prior to the presentation of General Session 6 on Wednesday, Don DeMarco of IBM gave a special award to Richard Arnold and Disaster Recovery Journal. It was the Inaugural Industry Excellence Award from IBM. Mr. DeMarco said the award is given to a business continuity planning and recovery service and that Mr. Arnold was selected for his many years of dedication to the disaster recovery industry.
In addition to general sessions, the conference also provides attendees great networking opportunities and extra events, such as pre-conference and post-conference courses, a welcome reception, Monday evening hospitality, the Cyber Cafe, and access to the exhibition hall.
'It's the best educational and peer networking event I've ever attended. Well worth the trip,' said attendee Gary Lupton. Another attendee stated, 'Overall, very well done and informative. The exhibits and ability to interact with a variety of vendors was helpful. The Sunday and Monday evening receptions were excellent.'
The pre-conference courses were offered on Saturday, March 18, with some continuing on the morning of March 19. Onsite conference registration officially began at 11:00 a.m. Sunday. Attendees were provided with a conference binder containing full conference proceedings and a CD-ROM with conference proceedings, speaker information and a virtual exhibit hall.
The Cyber Cafe, sponsored by Wang Recovery Services also opened on Sunday. This cafe was set up in Wang's mobile recovery unit and provided attendees a chance to surf the internet, check email or simply explore the mobile unit. Many attendees appreciated the convenience of having the cyber cafe nearby.
Sunday workshops began at 1:30 p.m. The workshops included the Mock Disaster Exercise sponsored by Dialogic Communications Corporation. Other workshops were Why Should I Care About Business Continuance Beyond Year 2000?; Business Impact Assessment How-To; The Insurance Adjustment Process and How It Affects BCP; Conducting a Multiple Location Exercise; and A Primer for DRP.
The Sunday evening Welcome Reception kicked off at 5:30 p.m. in the Exhibit Hall. This gave attendees a chance for their first viewing of the many exhibits and vendors in the hall. For many, it was also the first networking opportunity of the conference. Attendees were treated to a buffet-style meal, including dessert and drinks.
'I really enjoyed the opportunities to network with other business continuity professionals. I think that DRJ did a great job in providing a variety of pertinent topics in a comfortable environment,' said attendee Joan Mason with MBNA America.
Another attendee, Jack Bartholomew with Nationwide Services Co., said, 'Each year is increasingly more organized. Good job moving people and feeding the group in a timely manner.'
Monday morning began with three general sessions. Following lunch and a break for viewing the exhibit hall, breakout sessions began at 1:30 p.m. The sessions were one hour long and each track offered 6 sessions from which attendees could choose. The second breakout track began at 2:45 and the third track of the day was at 4:15 p.m. A 30-minute break at 3:45 gave attendees a chance to have refreshments in the exhibit hall.
On Monday evening, IBM and Strohl Systems hosted a reception for attendees. This event was well attended and provided a wonderful opportunity for people to mingle in a relaxed atmosphere. Many attendees commented on the great food and environment provided by the sponsors.
Tuesday agenda again featured general sessions in the morning, with one breakout track and workshops taking place in the afternoon. The workshops began at 3:00 p.m. and gave attendees a great opportunity to thoroughly explore a contingency planning issue. Topics included Windows NT Disaster Recovery; How to Develop and Conduct a Successful Contingency Plan Exercise; Managing Your EOC During a Sustained Event; Planning for Recovery and Continuity of Operations in a Manufacturing/Distribution Environment; BIA Beginning to End; and Develop Business Continuity as a Core Competency.
'I learned so much; some was new information and some was validation,' said attendee Sara Jane DuPree with Delta Airlines about the conference sessions.
Attendee Gary Villeneuve, CBCP, with DISA, added, 'This is my fourth year here and I still learned something!'
Another attendee, Michael J. Gray with Highmar, said, 'This was my first disaster recovery conference. I found the conference to be an excellent source of information, especially for someone new to DR.'
On Tuesday evening, hundreds of attendees enjoyed an 'Attendees Nite Out'. One tour headed for Tijuana, Mexico, for a shopping and dining excursion. The other tour was a harbor cruise with dining and dancing. Both tours were very popular with attendees, and all were said to have had a good time.
On Wednesday morning, the conference wound down with the final three general sessions. Following lunch, the conference officially closed. Post-conference courses offered by DRI International began at 1:15 p.m. and continued through Friday afternoon.
Many attendees left the conference with plans to return for next year.
'As my first conference ever, I was highly impressed. I can't wait for my next DRJ conference,' said Linda Pauline with Barclays Global Investors.