Jonathan Jensen on Thursday – Snow and making a drama out of a ‘crisis’!

This week’s post from Mobile Industry Review.
Last week’s extreme weather conditions made little difference to me. Although I had planned to go to London on the Monday and Tuesday I changed my meetings to conference calls and worked at home. I actually had more productive days than I was anticipating! I’m always puzzled when we’re told not to make unnecessary journeys because of bad weather. Shouldn’t we be trying to avoid making unnecessary journeys the whole time! Of course the snow and ice did have a major impact on the UK and many people and businesses struggled to cope with the impact. As ever the traditional media tended to dwell on the negative aspects (as they like to do) but I do wonder how much worse the ‘crisis’ would have been without the advances in mobile technology over the last few years. Many people are now equipped with business mobile phones and laptops; and therefore able to work remotely, keep in touch and talk to customers without having to trek into the office. Some of the more progressive organisations already encourage staff to work remotely where possible and not make unnecessary journeys to the office; for these people adverse weather should be business as usual! More organisations need to look at the benefits of mobile working and implement a technology infrastructure that supports this mode of working all the time. That way they will see ongoing benefits as well as be better prepared for the next ‘crisis’.
However, this increasing reliance on technology has also shown just how fragile that technology infrastructure is when it’s put under pressure. This week we were faced with rail information sites that collapsed, broadband speeds that ground to a halt as contention ratios bit and mobile phones that displayed ‘network busy’ when making a call. Service providers across all these businesses need to see these problems as a call to action to invest in their infrastructure. It’s not just bad weather that puts a strain on infrastructure; it can be a security alert or even kids coming home from school! My home broadband speed frequently halves around 4 o’clock in the afternoon. Investment in this technology infrastructure will not only equip us for the next ‘crisis’ but also deliver a more robust infrastructure day-to-day.
Twitter again came into its own with the lack of information from official sources. MIR contributor Ben Smith implemented the excellent uktrains Twitter feed and local weather tips were swapped with friends. These showed how powerful Twitter is at conveying pertinent information when its needed.
And one more point – a WiFi account for the local coffee shop is a a must for mobile working! My local coffee shop was packed during the snow.

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