Forrester: Social media will be key to surviving London 2012

Along with remote access, IT directors should ensure the business has a solid social media strategy

While remote access is a main priority for IT during the Olympics, businesses must ensure their social media policy is robust, analyst Forrester has advised.

The analyst company ran a session earlier this year with several major businesses to help them prepare for the Olympics.

In a paper from the session, Forrester principal analyst Andrew Rose noted: “The controls many firms will implement to mitigate the risks associated with the summer of 2012 will form a legacy that will remain for many years to come. It’s important that the controls be seen in this context and not just as an inconvenient additional spend. Investing in flexible working solutions, for example, could benefit the firm by reducing leasing costs or enabling more coverage hours in the years to come."

London 2012 preparation

  • Activists will use this time to flaunt their cause.
  • The prospect of terrorist action can’t be ignored.
  • It’s not far fetched to expect London’s ageing and stressed infrastructure to fail.
    Source: Preparing For The London Olympics, Andrew Rose, Forrester

Measures developed to support remote working could remain in place after the Olympics, giving businesses the opportunity to rethink how they are organised and whether they need buildings in the capital like a large head office.

In an interview with Computer Weekly Rose said, “London is trying to promote itself is as an IT hub. If we get this wrong, it will damage the UK.”  The disruption at Heathrow airport's immigration control should serve as a warning. “The small stuff will get you. Organisations should plan for service continuity.”

This means making sure people have remote access from home, and are given training if they are unfamiliar with using the remote access software. Some people will require a laptop, and this will need to be tracked and managed by IT.

Social media rumour mill

He said, “From research on the Beijing Olympics, a lot of the previous events do not map to the current world. Social media has changed. MySpace was bigger than Facebook four years ago. And the threats and risk are different. It is based in different city. London is already packed, the infrastructure is not the most modern.”

Four years ago less people used Twitter. Rose said, “On Twitter today, it is very easy to manipulate the masses, such as in the Middle East.” A typical scenario could be if there is massive queue in the tube station and someone tweets a picture suggesting the problem could be a bomb threat. This could lead to mass panic.

From a purely IT perspective, Forrester recommends businesses stockpile IT equipment around areas of London to ensure they can get a replacement easily if something in their IT infrastructure fails.

Forrester analyst John Rakowski, said, “Prepare for all eventualities. Bandwidth providers have said it will be business as usual [during the Olympics], but after an emergency communications will be a real problem. Communications with staff is a key thing.”

He recommends businesses  set up multiple ways of communicating with staff, such as home phone, mobile phone, personal and work email and twitter feeds.

Read more on Business continuity planning