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After the floods, time to ponder and act

Computerworld Philippines staff | Aug. 14, 2012
The latest downpours came during what is known as the "rainy season", with the majority of the precipitation falling in August; so in that sense, it was not unexpected. This is after the preceding month saw heavy winds and rains, resulting in yet another 53 people dead. What was unexpected, however, was that depending on the source, upwards of 2 million people were displaced.

Sustaining operations especially in high geo-physical risk areas such as the Philippines that are prone to major typhoons and earthquakes, is always a key-determining factor when selecting a location. Not being able to support business operations sustainability during a time like this has deleterious consequences for the country. If the Philippines is to maintain its hold as a legitimate and reliable global provider of outsourcing and captive services, it will have to meet the demands of the global market at any given point in time and in any given situation. This means the need to work towards establishing an "always ON" economy that mitigates risks in the face of any crisis. It will have to ensure the country's ability to always be operational, regardless of the degree of crisis; which includes the availability and mobilization of business-critical resources to run operations, which are the people. This includes, but is not limited to, instituting safeguards to ensure continuity of services and revisiting old statutes such as the 1987 Constitution, Article 12, Section 17 that allows the state to temporarily take over, or direct the operation of any privately-owned public utility or business affected with public interest, during a national state of emergency.


The recent event is calls for more than just a review of lessons learned. It is about developing a "business as usual" attitude, although this should be guided by the right mindset from the outset where personnel safety remains paramount. Above all, the resulting devastation highlighted the lack of essential infrastructure to support an industry that is currently employing over 700,000 Filipinos who contribute to globalization and play key roles in supporting business operations internationally. The responsibility for continuity of services must also syndicate service providers and captives to ensure their workforce has the ability to telework, particularly for critical functions. The tools, connectivity and means to do so have matured significantly since Tropical Storm Ketsana.

Although the Philippines has come a long way in strengthening utility infrastructures such as power and telecom services, it has continued to struggle with other essential infrastructure such as transportation, water supply, sanitation, drainage and other critical urban infrastructures to meet the migration trends and mobilizing talents within and without Metro Manila. An unexpected natural disaster such as the past tropical depression, exacerbated a fundamental disconnect between the government and the needs of the outsourcing industry. The calamity also further highlighted the lack of critical infrastructure for the country to be "ON" in any given situation.


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