Gauge, protect potential impact from Iraq conflict: Gartner

As the conflict in Iraq escalates Gartner has advised business and IT leaders to gauge how world events might affect them and move to protect their supply chain, communications and staff.

While the war has not had a direct impact on IT projects in Australia, local IT managers said they are more absorbed by the psychological strain of war than any potential disruptions to their technology or systems.

David Leaney, general manager of Melbourne-based networking consulting services firm Corporate Network Solutions (CNS), said as far as staff, supply chain and communications were concerned, his organisation was "well set up" for any potential business impact of the war.

As the Defence Department is one of the company's larger clients, Leaney anticipates some impact on these projects.

"If the alert status of any defence base increased to Delta level, all non-essential contractors will be refused entry onsite with IT projects probably delayed," he said.

One of the keys for companies according to Gartner analyst Roberta Witty is to re-evaluate and modify existing business continuity plans that deal with technology disruptions.

Analyst Robert Goodwin said companies should check business supply chains to ensure a smooth and continuous flow of materials. Companies should contact vendors and suppliers ahead of time to be sure they can meet expectations and find alternatives now in case of disruptions in the chain.

MasterCard International doesn't expect the Iraq conflict to affect any of its international projects, including an ongoing conversion of its European systems to its global IT architecture, said Jerry McElhatton, president of global technology and data centre operations.

If international travel disruptions do arise, MasterCard plans to expand its use of teleconferencing, McElhatton said.

Teleconferencing technology "is not always a suitable alternative" to travel, but it can facilitate communications when necessary, he said. Three of MasterCard's IT staffers have been called up to active military duty thus far, and a few more could follow. But McElhatton said he hasn't had to replace anyone with interim contractors, nor has he had to create internal work-arounds to support MasterCard's operations.

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