JIS News

Information and Communications Technology (ICT) disaster preparedness and mitigation should be a national priority, particularly with the increased use of and dependency on information technology, not just by private enterprises, but by government entities as well.
This has been emphasized by President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Fujitsu’s Caribbean operations, Mervyn Eyre.
In an interview with JIS News, Mr. Eyre says in terms of disaster recovery and preparedness, there is a high degree of exposure and there is a lot to be done in a short period of time.
“If one looks at some of the experiences today, you would be very surprised as to how many organisations can confidently speak to having basic information backed up in a manner that allows them to recover something in the event of a disaster,” he notes.
“So, if one looks at the enterprise that keeps government going, that keeps the economy going, we are no different today than New York is, or New Orleans, or Thailand in terms of the devastating impact on an economy that a disaster can have,” the CEO says, adding that, “if one looks at the rate of ICT adoption and where we stand in the E-readiness space, by independent surveys, we are quite advanced in terms of adoption of technology.So, it is a big issue of national importance”.
Mr. Eyre was speaking against the background of the Central Information Technology Office’s (CITO) annual summit, which begins today (May 9). The theme of the Summit, for which Fujitsu is one of the major sponsors, is ‘Disaster Preparedness and Recovery: Utilizing Information and Communications Technology’. The Summit is being held from May 9 to 11 at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston.
“If one looks at an enterprise, and enterprise could mean private business, government, any organisational activity, it really comes down to the use of people, processes and tools generating or using information.
What disaster preparedness really speaks to is putting in place plans, so that in the event of a disaster, to the extent that it is feasible and affordable, those people, processes and tools continue to operate nonetheless.ICT brings a high level of potential in creating improved levels of business continuity,” Mr. Eyre says.
“So, if you are using computers as a part of the management infrastructure, disaster preparedness speaks to the issue having a fallback to the use of those technologies, somewhere else, that it is not affected by a disaster,” he adds.
The process related issue, Mr. Eyre explains, speaks to the extent to which plans have been made in outsourcing critical processes to another entity, in the event that there is a disaster. Of course, he says, technology helps in those areas by assisting in the replication of those processes.
On the matter of people, he says, “it’s about having persons in a remote situation, being able to carry out activities on behalf of an entity or an enterprise. Again technology clearly is an important factor to that, because networking technologies allow people to be as close to the customer as they need to be, whether in Jamaica or any other environment”.
Therefore, he says, for a business to operate continuously, it has to be broken down to the simple elements of processes and people, where ICT plays a major role. “With the development of communications, band width has increased and there is reducing cost taking place. This obviously brings a whole host of new capabilities in business continuity, particularly where enterprise could not afford it in the past or didn’t have access to it; they now definitely have options,” he explains.
Turning to the Summit, and Fujitsu’s role in this forum, Mr. Eyre says the company’s job is to use information technology to deliver value to Caribbean citizens and enterprises. Central to that is the delivery and implementation of ICT, he says.
“So in that role, and as a logical extension of care for our customers, we have the responsibility to provide advice and guidance as to how they should mitigate themselves against risk and prepare against disaster, so that the services delivered to them by the technology is available in the event of a disaster,” he says.
With the Summit being a government initiative to increase awareness and to bring a very important issue to the table, this is an event that Fujitsu has to support, Mr. Eyre points out. Meanwhile, he says there is also a business opportunity side to the company’s participation.
One aspect is related to the fact that Jamaica makes an ideal location as a disaster recovery site for other countries, he adds.
Because of the country’s proximity to certain key territories and because of the increasing development of world class communication, this feasibility has improved significantly in recent years, the CEO notes.
“So Fujitsu sees an opportunity where we can actually develop outsourcing services for other Caribbean countries and for the U.S. and Latin American enterprises, where we are a disaster recovery site for them. It is an opportunity generally to create new business for Fujitsu, because every organization has a responsibility to implement disaster recovery and we offer credible service at good value.so it’s responsibility and opportunity,” he explains.
For its part at the conference, Mr. Eyre informs that Fujitsu will be focusing on risk prevention, in terms of data management. “For example, we will look at what technology exists today and what are the directions in which technology is taking us, such that as an enterprise operator, data is automatically being replicated somewhere, so that when there is an event of a disaster, you don’t have to deal with wondering if you actually have the data. There is a whole evolution of technology that is now taking advantage of increased band width and communication. Our focus will centre around that,” he tells JIS News.
Speaking to specific measures that enterprises can take to prepare for, and mitigate against disaster, Mr. Eyre stresses that disaster preparedness and disaster recovery is as much an issue of business governance and enterprise governance as it is financial management.
He recommends that the Board of companies must assume this as their responsibility, as should the executive management, thereby giving disaster preparedness and recovery the attention it deserves. “So, they must allocate the resources to ensure that the process is planned, reviewed, planned again and executed and tested. There is a systematic process to how one goes about doing this, starting from the issue of governance, straight down to an assessment of risk and mitigation of risk,” he explains.
“There is a planning process that one needs to go through to quantify risk and the areas of risk, and then apply a plan against it. Having determined what the plan is, you now have to go through re-testing the execution of the contingency,” he asserts.
Other major sponsors of the event include Digicel Jamaica, Illuminat Jamaica, National Commercial Bank, International Business Machines, Moore Tech, Citrix, Anbell Limited, Anngel, Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), and the Jamaica Computer Society.