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Swine Flu Prompts Aussie CIOs to Revisit Business Continuity Plans

CIOs, analysts give their tips for a pandemic business continuity plan

Australian health authorities may have given the all clear for two local suspected cases of the swine flu virus -- which has killed more than 80 people in Mexico and infected 20 in the United States -- but concern over the spread of the potentially fatal disease has local CIOs revisiting their business continuity plans (BCP).

A new app may have launched on Google to track the spread of the deadly virus, but should red dots start showing in your area, it may already be too late.

Allan Davies CIO at logistics and material handling solutions company Dematic, says given his company’s offices throughout Asia, Dematic’s business continuity plan was specifically designed to deal with the threat of a pandemic.

Dematic’s business continuity plan, in place for the last 10 years, includes actions from individual medical checks through to carrying out operations under individual movement restrictions implemented by the authorities.

“We do have a number of projects operating overseas with staff there so we would have to have them checked and looked after,” he says. “We would restrict movement of staff in that region to that region until we got an all clear.”

To ensure that staff and executives can maintain voice and data communications, Dematic has a Nortel Business Communications Manager (BCM) system, which in normal times it uses to communicate between its offices and customer sites.

“We work on customer sites, rather than in our offices overseas, so we put in an ADSL circuit into that customer site then connect a Nortel BCM unit to the other end and that allows us to keep in touch with our staff.”

Rob Livingstone, CIO at Ricoh Australia says that given Ricoh’s highly distributed business, developing the ability to run a headquarters out of any one of a number of its branch offices in the event of a disaster of pandemic has been a priority.

“The IT strategy has been over the last few years to move to a secure, pervasive platform, so as long as you can get to the Internet you can do your work,” he says.

“Pervasive access to systems and the ability for IT staff to work remotely would be the two key areas. If you can’t have your key IT staff physically access the infrastructure in a secure manner -- ie. they can’t get to work -- then it is going to be fairly difficult to get things to run.”

Join the CIO Australia group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.

More about: Creative, Dematic, Gartner, Google, IBRS, ICMS, ISO, mobiles, Nortel, Pandemic, Ricoh
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