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Let the BCPs begin

Paul Brislen, Editor. 11 March 2020, 7:18 am

As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to spread globally, more tech events are shutting their doors and turning to the virtual world for their launches and customer conferences.

While Second Life has yet to burst back into use, video conferencing, podcasts and the like are emerging as the medium of choice, although for some countries this is easier said than done.

Major vendors, from Dell and Gartner to SAP, have cancelled gatherings and the mega conferences like Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and South by South West in the US have also been axed for this year.

The lost revenue will be a huge blow to cities like Barcelona which relies heavily on tourism and trade shows in particular, and already estimates suggest the total impact is growing steadily past the US$1 billion mark.

On top of that, with insurance companies regretfully declining COVID-19 related claims as fast as their lawyers will allow them, for visitors to such shows the costs have still largely already been incurred, putting a dent in marketing budgets for the year.

Locally, businesses need to reconsider the number of events they hold, whether or not to proceed with customer meet-ups and other larger-format sessions and of course the thorny issue of whether those dusty old Business Continuity Plans (BCPs) are still fit for purpose.

As more of us are sent home to work, companies that favour remote workers are already well placed, but those that operate on a "remote first" rather than "remote friendly" are already living the dream. For the rest of the companies for whom remote working means being issued a laptop that stays in the office overnight, it could well be a steep learning curve. Can users access all the systems they need from a remote location or are they on a cut-down version that involves emailing documents back and forth? Is your security up to handling sensitive data routinely over cafe wifi? And of course, do you have the right licences to enable staff to use high-end systems from outside the office?

As the outbreak rolls on companies will be faced with all these questions and plenty more besides. In New Zealand the number of infected people remains low, at only five as I write this, but that number is sure to rise. Perhaps stocking up on toilet paper isn't really all that necessary but making sure staff have access to ultra fast broadband at home surely is.


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