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Bird flu: you'll die but your IT will survive

Good news from Gartner

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If the latest news from the wonderful world of Pandemia has got your organisation running around like a headless Romanian chicken, then don't fret: Gartner has released an essential guide to avian influenza, aka bird flu, aka Black Death II, which mercifully states that although you will most likely be lying dead among the smouldering ruins of society, your IT infrastructure can be saved for future generations.

Gartner rightly warns that bird flu could be even worse than SARS, which in 2003 killed a chilling 774 of 8,096 people infected worldwide, in the process generating 1.2bn column inches of press hysteria and rating an impressive 7.2 (out of ten) on the international "Imminent Pandemic Apocalypse" scale.

That's as nothing compared to avian Armageddon, though, as Gartner explains:

The WHO says that "even in the best case scenarios of the next pandemic, 2 to 7 million people would die and tens of millions would require medical attention." The WHO urges the development or updating of "influenza pandemic preparedness plans for responding to the widespread socioeconomic disruptions that would result from having large numbers of people unwell or dying."

OK, calm down and try to focus on your "pandemic preparedness plans", including the "possibility of an avian flu pandemic in your business continuity planning and crisis management preparations". Remember: "A pandemic wouldn't affect IT systems directly, but it would likely cause considerable economic disruption through its impact on the workforce and on business activity."

Gotcha. Good to hear there is one virus which won't be running amok through our systems. Any other pointers?:

  • Make your workforce aware of the avian flu threat and the steps you're taking to prepare for it.
  • Assess your business continuity preparedness for this type of workforce outage scenario and try to improve it (if necessary).
  • Assign someone in your business to track biological threats such as the avian flu. He or she should regularly review business continuity plans and update them in response to new information.
  • Establish or expand policies and tools that enable employees to work from home with broadband access, appropriate security and network access to applications.
  • Expand online transaction and self-service options for customers and partners.
  • Work with customers and partners to minimize any disruption by developing coordinated crisis response capabilities.

We might add the following:

  • Bulk buy flowers and coffins as part of your business continuity preparedness for a permanent workforce outage scenario.
  • Assign someone in your business to stand on the roof and shoot anything with wings.
  • Set up email autoresponders to communicate: "Sorry, I'm out of the office due to death."
  • Lock infected employees in their homes with broadband access and then paint a red cross on the door.
  • Leave a full set of instructions on how to reboot the servers for the next generation emerging blinking into the post-apocalyptic landscape.
  • Try to stay calm.

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