• 13 Nov 2019

Business continuity in an ever-changing digital era

In 2014, TAQA Europe experienced a water leakage in our server room. Our team began receiving messages and assessed the danger after finding the water through from the ceiling and onto our servers. We immediately shut down and replaced the affected equipment to restore operations within eight hours.

 

If the same incident recurred today, TAQA would be able to resume operations within the hour thanks to our continued efforts to increase our business continuity (BC) plans.

 

Our company is part of a critical industry with a significant number of fully operated businesses across power and water and oil and gas. Given TAQA’s strategic interest in assets across the sector, we have a Plan B (as well as a Plan C, D and E) to ensure we’re ‘always on’ and ready to respond to technical issues, outages and cyber-attacks.

 

According to the Global Risk Report (2019) from the World Economic Forum, cyber-attacks are a key risk, with trends pointing to attacks on critical infrastructure sectors including electricity. Cyber-attacks on energy organizations can inflict damage to infrastructure equipment, which can compromise the power supply.

While every company is in the race to ensure that their security is next level with the ability to thwart threats, we cannot rely on pre-emptive measures alone. We have to be proactive for not if, but when an unplanned event may take us offline. In business continuity, there’s no completion of a project. We have to continuously evaluate systems and new technologies.

We’ve developed our teams and engaged with experts to draw up plans and processes that can take on active innovation, accidents, government regulation and geopolitics.

 

Furthermore, each year we run exercises to assess the capabilities of our businesses and their resilience around the world.

 

Our business continuity team is an independent department, but each division inside TAQA (including our global outfits) has a champion who maintains regularly-monitored checklists. We have also made significant investments in a remote location to ensure that our systems continue to run under Business Continuity Management (BCM) so they can mobilize the company within an hour in a different location via a satellite office.

 

Disaster recovery isn’t simply about IT restoration. It is about the fastest recovery with minimal disruption to operations and ensuring that business continuity is not endangered. Our BCM team also regularly has training and certification courses to ensure that we remain on par with international standards. However, this isn’t the only reason we send our people for training, but also to learn from others.

 

One of our most recent trainings helped our team share our best practices as a global company, but we also gained insight as to those firms that are locally-focused. One example was how a UAE-based outfit didn’t have a recovery site, but instead used BCM throughout branches.

 

Having data alone is not sufficient; it is equally important for people to be able to access the data and know what to do with the data, reinforcing the necessity for training, as employees gain insight from other companies and absorb best practices in BCM from around the world.

I believe it’s important that we all share best practices or lessons learned so that we may grow stronger together.

By Awad Al Ketbi, TAQA Executive Vice President for Business Support

This piece was originally published on LinkedIn

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