The country is in the midst of a summer of sport, and the main event is just around the corner. On the 27th July the world will descend upon London for the 2012 Olympic Games. But what does this mean for businesses?
The Cabinet Office produced a report in February titled ‘Preparing Your Business For The Games’, which detailed the opportunities and challenges that the Games would pose for organisations across the UK.
One of the main discussion points was around internet connection. The report put fear into many CEOs and CIOs, as it prophesied slower internet connections, and even complete service drop outs. It then suggested counter measures in case internet service providers (ISPs) introduced download limits or even experienced failures.
The main danger comes from employees using their corporate devices and the company network connection to watch the Olympics – be that on YouTube, BBC iPlayer or any other video website. With the amount of data it takes to download video, the strain on corporate networks – and in turn ISPs – will be huge.
Businesses breathed a sigh of relieve in early July when the government revealed that the country’s internet infrastructure will in fact be able to cope with extra demand during the Games. A spokesman said he was pleased with the amount of planning and preparation from ISPs and that there was unlikely to be any impact.
However, businesses should still be wary. The government offered no guarantees that internet connection would definitely operate as usual, going as far as to advise companies to check their internet capacity with their supplier.
The consequences of internet loss could be massive. Any business that’s been without web and email access for even a couple of hours will attest to the huge disruption it causes. Ultimately it equates to lost time, lost resources and lost revenue.
Preparation is key. Companies can mitigate the risk to their internet access by being proactive and putting measures in place to ensure that any disruption is minimised.
Bandwidth is the first port of call. Businesses should know what their subscription entails in terms of capacity and limits. If a business is unaware of its bandwidth specifications then it should speak to its ISP and find out what the caps and thresholds are.
It may be possible to negotiate a temporary expansion of bandwidth for the period of the Games to provide extra support for the corporate network. But, as it’s the ISPs themselves that will be coming under the most pressure during the Olympics, it’s a better idea for businesses to be proactive and put practical measures in place.
Educating employees is an economical and effective method of preparation. Businesses should communicate with staff and inform them of the potential problems while detailing acceptable usage.
Creating a staff policy doesn’t take long but can mitigate much of the risk of exceeding network capabilities. Once a business knows what its internet capacity is, it can plan its strategy. The amount of streaming and video then becomes something that is managed centrally, granting IT managers an element of power.
It should detail how much of the Games staff can watch or stream per day and what sites are acceptable to use. IT departments can then track usage and ensure that employees aren’t exceeding the pre-imposed limits.
An innovative solution would be to devise an event rota that staff can sign up to, with each member given an allotted amount of time spread across the Games. This would ensure that the network is not overloaded during events.
For three weeks the Olympics will take over the country, and that includes the workplace. It’s up to companies to decide how to prepare – but regardless of the method, preparation is a necessity.