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How soccer could put your organization in Jeopardy

We all plan for region-specific emergencies, such as hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, and storms. And incidents like power outages, flooding, and pandemics are no-brainers. But what happens when seemingly innocuous events put unexpected strain on your organization, impacting networks and productivity?

That’s just what happened with the recent, month-long World Cup festivities. According to a corporate impact survey by Ipswitch Inc., global bandwidth use increased by over a third during the World Cup with some countries experiencing increases as high as 97 percent during key matches.

For those who scoff at the impact here in the U.S., a country not typically caught up in soccer mania (or shall we say “football” mania, as it’s known throughout the rest of the world), consider this: Bandwidth use rose to 77 percent in the US during some key matches. Surprised? We were.

So what does this mean and why should you care?

Your network might crash or grind to a halt unexpectedly. Many of the games took place during office hours. How would your network support a sudden 77 percent spike in bandwidth usage? Would it teeter on the brink of collapse or go down entirely? The calls flooding in to your IT team from around the organization will grate like vuvuzelas echoing in their ears until the issue is resolved.

Productivity may fall off a cliff. How many people watching games does it take to increase your bandwidth consumption by 77 percent? What should they have been doing during that time? And for knowledge workers still toiling away at their desks during the games, what was the financial impact of network slowdowns on their productivity?

It’s not just soccer. With the popularity of YouTube, streaming video/music/news, and social media soaring – even at the workplace – the next big, newsworthy event to sweep the world or the nation or even just in our backyards could push your organization to the brink or beyond. The next World Cup is safely four years out, giving us plenty of time to plan. But what’s right around the corner that might disrupt your organization? What can you do to protect your organization? Having policies in place to prevent your organization from finding itself in such a predicament is always the first line of defense, but that’s not always within your control (nor is compliance with corporate policy even if you have one). So what else can you do?

Clip their wings by proactively addressing the problem. When an incident such as this looms large and you need people to modify their behavior (and now), use an incident notification system to notify members of the organization to discontinue activities contributing to the problem. Hosted solutions don’t tie up precious bandwidth, and such a solution can contact people on company contact paths and/or non-company contact paths.

Take network monitoring to the next level. You probably have network alerts in place already so when something suspicious or concerning happens (such as an out-of-the-blue surge in bandwidth consumption), your system senses it. Integrate incident notification with your network monitoring systems. When an event triggers your system, contact members of your response team with an appropriate message on all their contact devices. So even if they’re not at their desks or miss your high-priority email, an incident notification system will roll to the next contact path. (Text message? Instant message? Pager? Is there anywhere to hide?) Can’t find one of your front-line team members? No problem. Make sure you set up escalation paths so if Bob-the-Wonder-Guru is MIA, Tom-the-Tech-Prodigy will be called in to deal with the issue ASAP. Why futz around with a call tree?

Keep executives in the loop. Sometimes when communicating up, it’s better to err on the side of over-communication than under-communication, especially when tension is high. When networks are down or faltering, the effects ripple across the organization and it doesn’t stop at mahogany row. Send regular status updates to executives to let them know you are on top of the issue and making progress toward resolving it. Include nifty charts, reports, and other supporting documentation as needed. An incident notification system lets you maintain an ongoing dialogue without significant effort.

Unfortunately, none of us has Paul the Octopus in a tank by our desks predicting when the next organizational catastrophe will strike. But having a proactive plan and safeguards in place now ensures we can rest comfortably knowing we’ve done our due diligence.

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