17/09/08, Birmingham Post
One of the most significant technological advances of the 21st century is ‘electronic mobility’ which frees us from our 9 -5 office constraints and offers us more opportunities to decide where and when we do business. The growing use of wireless technologies, such as laptops and PDAs, is often focused on flexible working, cost-cutting environmental concerns and business continuity in the event of a disaster.
However, recent events internationally show that we should perhaps be exploiting such technologies for another reason - that of national economic security. Since the end of the 20th century the UK has moved from being an exporter of gas and oil to an importer. This reliance on imports poses a new and growing threat for business because of the potential disruption to our energy supplies. Whilst Germany has storage to accommodate 180 days of gas supplies, the UK has just eleven days. As the top five producers of oil are Saudi Arabia, Russia, Norway, Iran and the UAE, only one source is located outside a potentially problematic region.
Businesses should be gearing up to address the issue of how they will survive if reduced energy supplies and cost cutting become major concerns. There is a real danger that we may return to the three day week experienced in the 1970s. In addition, petrol rationing would exacerbate the situation and impact on the numbers of people able to travel to work.
The use of electronic mobility devices can play an important role in sustaining a business during such a crisis, but the implemention of the right technology requires a considerable degree of planning and decision making. Organisations must identify the most appropriate technology for business survival addressing both the specific technological and the more generic security issues and build this into their business continuity planning. Businesses should therefore identify and address:
· priorities to enable the selection of appropriate technologies
· the most appropriate supplier of both technologies and services based on both business and employee requirements
· how existing assets and resources can be employed and integrated during an emergency situation
· the expected levels of productivity – any mobile solution employed must deliver benefit during normal business working
· compliance issues to avoid possible litigation due to mistakes by employees while working outside the office.
By addressing these issues prior to a potential energy crisis businesses will not only be protecting their long-term sustainability but will also be addressing the productivity gains that electronic mobility offers.
Mike Musson, ICT Cluster Manager