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Is your business ready for 2010?

With the impending FIFA World Cup just around the corner, businesses need to prepare themselves for a myriad of events that may hamper day-to-day business over the month that the event runs.

‚It is about pre-planning, business in areas that will be affected need to ensure they have a schedule of events and they will need to understand what impact, if any, that these will have on their business,‚ says Peter McLaren-Kennedy, sales and marketing director at Metrofile.

Road closures, traffic congestion, electricity disruptions and the lack of service from key FIFA providers such as Telkom are merely a few of the concerns business will need to take cognisance of over this time. There is no doubt that traffic patterns will be affected on match days particularly along primary routes and in and around the stadiums, as well as the park and ride areas.

‚Metrofile is for example having to re-route many of our standard delivery schedules, bearing in mind that we cannot always delay the delivery given the urgent nature of the company’s business. The onus on ensuring that suppliers can deliver lies with the company affected by the transport restrictions according to FIFA, permits and approvals will need to be applied for to ensure that required suppliers are given access to affected areas on match days,‚ he says.

Crime, and in particular business crime may also escalate as the police and security forces in our country turn to the protection of our international guests. With increased security at every one of our borders imports and exports are also going to take longer to process.

‚Business needs to map out what changes are necessary, there is so much information about the games and the logistics around them that ambivalence is not going to be an excuse if your business is affected,‚ adds McLaren-Kennedy. ‚As a business that has a large number of vehicles on the road at any given time we have already raised the issue with customers who may be affected and we are putting in processes to limit the impact on our clients.‚

But it is not just congestion that needs to be taken into account. McLaren-Kennedy says that many businesses will be affected by the high number of staff that have or will take leave on and around match days. This situation will need to be taken into account by clients, particularly those who need business critical information to be delivered at a time to suit their needs. Customers will need to be fully aware of the potential disruptions to their businesses and implement short terms changes that will allow for the collection and delivery of this information to a more realistic schedule.

On a more sinister front IT Security companies have released figures that state that spam, phishing and security threats increase by a staggering 40% over the period of a large scale sporting event. Ensuring your data is backed up and that you have a disaster recovery plan in place is therefore quintessential. ‚The best way to do this is to ensure your disaster recovery strategy is hardware independent in the event that you are unable to gain access to these systems over the time of the World Cup. Following an offsite or remote backup policy will ensure you are better prepared should a security breach befall your business,‚ he warns.

Companies also need to gear themselves for potential shortages of goods such as consumables, and they need to be acutely aware that access to ‚people‚ may be a problem.

Staff are going to want to take leave over this period, and others may want to use the fact that the entire world’s eye will be pointed to South Africa as a mechanism to air grievances with the threat of potential strike action.

‚I don’t expect the whole of South Africa to be ‚out to lunch’ for the whole month, but if you have important deadlines to meet or meetings to be held it is imperative to start scheduling them now,‚ he says. ‚Sales cycles may well also be protracted over this period as access to individuals and decision makers may be hampered.‚

‚I think that many businesses are ill prepared for the enormity of the event and the euphoria it is going to bring to South Africans as a nation. We have never hosted an event of such enormity, previous world cups for other sports pale in comparison to the pervasive nature of football. It is with this that we are urging our customer to plan better, and with the date now only weeks away it is critical to do it now while there is still time to act. It can be done ‚ planning is the key,‚ ends McLaren-Kennedy.

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