Who can forget the graphic images of 9/11 and floods in Mumbai
being played over and over again on television screens across the world? While
it helped increase TRPs for television channels, it was bad news for most
businesses. It was bad PR for many companies who had to shut down for several
days. Given these uncertain times, the role, responsibility and challenges for a
CIO are increasing. As the supply chain stretches across the globe, companies
are becoming highly vulnerable to uncertainties ranging from natural disasters
to manmade disasters, or civil unrest.
India is the worlds favorite service-delivery location. For the US or
European businesses to run uninterrupted, Indias business continuity is not
just desirable, it is a must.
becoming an integral part of the overall business plan, rather than an
afterthought. But technological challenges still remain
India has a third world infrastructure and a
worse-than-third-world public disaster management system. Take for example the
results of an AT&T business continuity study in the US: as much as 41% of
firms in the US take action only when the government issues an alert. Now, if
Indian companiesespecially the offshore services firms- think that way, they
will be out of business in no time. That means, they will not only have to plan
for business continuity, they will have to take proactive action to preempt any
They have done a fairly good job. It starts with basic
infrastructure. Talk to any CTO in a BPO company about his telecom
infrastructure. What he would definitely tell you is what he has done to
mitigate risk. He is on AT&T as well as BT; he is on VSNL as well as Bharti;
he is on FLAG and SEA-ME-WE-2. And he is on Atlantic as well as Pacific. And he
has been doing that much before business continuity became a buzzword.
Whether it is Tsunami in Chennai or Floods in Mumbai and
Bangalore, Indian IT and BPO companies have ensured that their business
operations are run, even though sometimes on a reduced scale. Firms like WNS
Global Services, Hinduja TMT, Lason India and Satyam Computers have ensured that
business for their BPO clients will not be affected during natural disasters.
A lot remains to be done though. For example, few BPO companies
today can shift operations overnight to another location. Though sites are
linked, very often they are not warm sites; and even if they are, scaling up is
not always possible, as it is people-intensive work. Having a DR data center is
one thing; and ensuring that a BPO process goes on uninterrupted in another city
However, the global services industry is still light years ahead
of other Indian industries. In many, business continuity planning is still in
its infancy. Analysts expect that in the financial services, telecom, and many
other critical services sectors, the focus on BCP will grow exponentially even
in the Indian domestic market.