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Disaster Recovery Comes Down To This: Communicate

Sept. 11 taught execs that you can't overplan or overcommunicate

InformationWeek Staff

March 16, 2002

2 Min Read

We've got to grow up, understand the world around us, and protect ourselves." That was the sobering assessment of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani speaking last Tuesday at a disaster-recovery conference in New York. He laid it out: "What our job is now, here at home, is to relentlessly plan, and that's true of government and of business."

Executives from finance, telecom, and tech companies came together to share what they've learned in the last six months and what steps they've taken. Robert Druskin, Citigroup's chief technology officer, said his company had to deal with 16,000 employees displaced from Manhattan offices and resolve problems ranging from network failures to lost employees.

Rudolph Guiliani



Planning is key for New York, government, and business, Giuliani says.

The first thing Citigroup did was name a head of continuity-of-business, Druskin said. "We needed somebody at the parent-company level to look across the whole company." Citigroup also created a continuity-of-business committee that meets regularly to share ideas and best practices. The committee's bioterrorism task force deals with the threat posed by hundreds of thousands of pieces of mail that the company receives daily.

The major lesson for Druskin has been the importance of communicating well with employees, in both good times and bad, he said. As a result, Citigroup has collected and distributed fresh contact information for employees. It's researching alternate communications tools such as BlackBerry devices and improved Internet and intranet employee-focused news sites. "If you don't get this one right, then nothing else is going to matter because you're just going to have chaos in the company," he said. "This is vital stuff, and not being prepared will put your company out of business."

Rand Blazer, CEO of KPMG Consulting, urged attendees to think of disaster recovery as more than just backup servers and data restoration. "This is an issue that goes beyond the CIO," he said. "Everybody in the company, from the top down, has to be concerned with these issues."

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