Is your IT department ready for the Olympic and Paralympic Games? V3 has teamed up with Cisco in the final months before the Games for a special series of articles, videos and podcasts.
Here we look at the preparations IT departments should be taking to protect businesses from the operational chaos the event could potentially cause.
Recently, the government published a pamphlet warning organisations that internet and mobile access may be impeded during the 28 days of sports competition. There may even be service blackouts.
Public transport is also set to be affected with millions more people driving through London and using the Tube and bus networks.
Yet an industry-wide poll by The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) in February showed that only 50 per cent of businesses had started preparing for the challenges ahead.
Meanwhile a survey by disaster and recovery firm SunGuard found that even though 80 per cent of businesses have started now planning for the Olympics, only half of them have communicated their policies across their organisation.
Consequently, 88 per cent of employees remain in the dark on what working policies will be established during the games.
Without proper contingency plans in place, problems of staff unavailability and transport delays are just the beginning.
The knock-on effects of a sales department being cut off from the rest of the business, for instance, could have disastrous consequences for a company's quarterly financial performance.
When BT asked businesses in January how much time they thought they needed to prepare for the Olympics, nearly 40 per cent said three months or less is enough time.
However, businesses involved in the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games spent an average of 18 months preparing and still almost half thought they could have done better.
Now, with four months to go until the event kicks off, the stakes are high and there is considerable pressure on businesses to ensure they are aware of the risks to their operations and that they have the business continuity practises in place to minimise disruptions.
The government document, ‘Preparing your business for the Games' urged businesses to allow home working or changes to regular work hours to avoid peak transport congestion.
Businesses were also advised to contact their ISPs and mobile networks to find out how they plan to handle their networks during the games.
Meanwhile, ISPs were told by the government to advise customers on the measures they may introduce to manage peak demand, and to be open about whether they plan any network upgrades during the Games to increase bandwidth in certain locations.
The document said businesses that adopt homeworking policies during the games would benefit from working with ISPs to ensure staff working from home get the best possible service.
Trefor Davies, chief technology officer at communications provider Timico and a board member of the Internet Service Providers' Association (ISPA), said the biggest challenge facing the industry is the fact that it is impossible to tell how much demand on internet services will increase.
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