Terrorism, and its many implications for the business community, is not a subject to be entered into casually. It is for this reason few professionals are prepared to stick their head above the corporate parapet and comment openly on the subject. Even fewer are willing to reveal that they consider their organisation a potential terrorist target, or further still to expose their business continuity plans to the public gaze.
Nevertheless, Information Age has found over recent months, through numerous off-the-record conversations with IT directors, risk managers and security consultants, that most major multinational corporations are now taking the terrorist threat more seriously than ever. Behind the scenes, detailed plans are in place to protect the business, and in particular its central nervous system, the IT infrastructure, from the impact of a devastating physical assault.
At the start of this month for example, a major investment bank is known to have tested its business continuity plan on a global scale, although not, it is understood, with unequivocal success. And perhaps not surprisingly. As many have had the misfortune to witness, terrorist assaults present a uniquely devastating threat to business continuity, exerting numerous stresses in multiple locations – distinct in nature from natural disasters – that are especially difficult to plan for.
Difficult, but not impossible, as this month’s cover story, ‘Terrorism: IT’s response’ concludes. Continuity plans are now assuming a more dynamic character, focusing on both the concentration of risk in terms of the location of IT infrastructure, and the integrity of the infrastructure itself – the data centre being the prime example.
Highlighted by our feature ‘Grand designs’, organisations are now separating these engines of business operations from their headquarters sites, often relocating them in distant, secret locations. When doing so, particular efforts are being made to ensure resilience, with multiple power supplies and enhanced cooling capabilities that help guard against disruptions.
In this way, business continuity, as one of our commentators from Dutch banking giant ABN AMRO observes, can and should be more than an additional appendage to business operations. It serves as a means by which to add value, acting as a quality stamp on the robustness of your IT infrastructure, and in turn your business overall, that might, in fact, be worth shouting about.