With the end of the year looming larger and larger, it’s time for a review of trends that have marked BC in 2012 so far, and that will likely continue to do so into the next year. Four important ones are rooted in information technology: cloud computing, mobile devices in the workforce, social networking and virtualisation. However, their usefulness in business continuity plans is not necessarily restricted to the continuity of an organisation’s IT, as the use of mobile devices and social networking in particular both show.
Cloud computing is attractive as a business continuity plan component, because it is highly scalable and mixable with existing IT solutions. In other words, there is no need for organisations to scrap existing IT infrastructure if they want to start using cloud computing – an important point if you just bought hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of servers only a year ago. Virtualisation on the other hand was already popular for applications and servers, whether on site or in the cloud. The latest trend is now to virtualise the desktop, dissociating the physical PC from the user image and helping to increase data security.
Mobile devices have been a challenge for many IT departments, as they struggled to put in place access policies that could cope with the combination of personal and professional data. Yet mobile devices such as smartphones that allow immediate contact in an emergency may turn out to be what saves an enterprise if the central computing facility goes down. Likewise, social networking, used in all sorts of ways by employees, was tough for organisations to figure out and to regulate. Yet to preserve customer goodwill and loyalty when there are problems at headquarters, smart use of social networks to help customers and keep them informed is an increasing part of different business continuity plans.