America’s Cup: a business continuity event?
All the time that the America's cup is taking place, businesses across the island in every part of Bermuda's economy will need to continue doing business, ensuring that their clients and customers are served the same as any other day.
Operating as an executive, an officer or a manager for a company means you need to consider the future, see the problems and challenges and avoid them whilst seeing opportunities where others perhaps haven't.
What was this all mean for the America's Cup? I believe that the level of change that the Bermuda is going to experience during the America's Cup could pose a potential for disruption in business, and in this article, I have highlighted a some of the areas that I think that businesses should consider.
Most of the visitors over the next few months will bring their smartphones, tablet computers and laptop computers with them to connect to the internet here in Bermuda.
Those devices will be used to make video calls to their friends and family back at home, they'll also be taking lots of photos using those devices and sending them as e-mails or instant messages, Facebook updates, and tweets, and may also use those devices to stream video services such as Netflix, but also the live, and recorded streams of the America's Cup action.
With such an increase in the population and the generation of high bandwidth internet traffic it is possible that Bermuda's internet infrastructure both locally and on the cables leaving the island may become congested, causing latency, often seen as buffering when you're watching a video stream, a breakdown in the call quality when using Skype, webpages taking longer to load, or e-mails taking longer to send than usual.
What should organisations do to help mitigate their exposure to this risk? Speak with your ISP (internet service provider), ensure that they have plans in place, understand how your business uses the internet, perhaps make a change to your usage pattern during peak times.
If the internet service that your company buys has a SLA (service level agreement) associated with it, make sure that your monitoring is in place to ensure that agreed levels are maintained.
Cell phone bandwidth
It's not uncommon in large cities such as London or New York for cell phone systems to become overloaded if there are more people in an area than usual (delays to trains, football and soccer games for example).
Bermuda's cell phone infrastructure is used to having to have some flexibility to be able to cope with the influx of visitors from cruise ships, for example. The estimates that I have seen for the America's Cup visitors will be several times greater than for the cruise ships, and will also be for an extended period.
What should companies do to mitigate this issue? Where possible ensure that your company has a landline phone as a back-up, rely on your cell phone less during peak times, and be patient; typically cell phone networks are very robust, if your call doesn't go through, give it a minute and try again.
Travel and transportation
A taxi driver around 6 months ago, when I mentioned the America's Cup said that he thought there would be gridlock, with only 100 metres of empty road on the entire island as every available vehicle was going to be on the road at the same time.
I don't share his view, but there will be changes in the traffic volumes and patterns during the America's Cup, with the potential to cause disruption. Businesses who have cars or trucks on the road are the ones who will have the greatest exposure to this disruption.
What can you do to prepare? Understand what the peak times are likely to be, note the areas that are likely to be busiest during peak times, allow extra time for travel, this may mean that you may have to reduce the number of trips that your vehicles can make.
For some firms, it may be possible to consider using the roads earlier in the mornings or later in the evening to ease congestion. For office based staff, perhaps encourage home working where that is possible.
Availability of staff
The America's Cup is a great opportunity for all Bermudians to see a large internationally important and respected sporting event, and many people will be looking to take vacation days to make the most of this opportunity, this could lead to your organisation being short-handed on some days.
How can firms mitigate this challenge? Working with your employees to ensure they understand where certain types of cover are required, and encourage your staff to work with one another to ensure that there is cover for key areas.
Where possible offer flexible working, allowing staff to complete their work outside of usual business hours whilst allowing them to make the most of the opportunity that the America's Cup offers, might be a good compromise for everyone.
Availability of repair parts
With the increase in the amount of food and other consumables that are going to be imported during the America's Cup, one potential constraint is in the ability to import replacement parts as quickly as usual. This is to some degree an area that I feel that most Bermuda companies manage well, they have never become used to the next day delivery culture that is prevalent in other parts of the world.
This doesn't mean that companies shouldn't prepare for this risk though, they should examine the requirements that they have for replacement parts or parts that are consumable, and where possible order in advance. It may be better to have a spare on the shelf rather than struggling without a key piece of equipment. I would recommend getting critical pieces of equipment serviced to reduce the chance of failures as well.
Think about how the America's Cup could impact your business, are there opportunities that your business can take advantage of? Agile businesses may be able to act even with the limited time remaining.
Also think about what is critical to your business, and any constraints that may occur during the America's Cup, I hope the above points you in the right direction and offers some food for thought.
Above all — enjoy this fantastic opportunity and time, and help Bermuda's natural beauty and hospitality shine through to those who come in person, as well as the millions who will be watching on TV.