H1N1 – Preparing for the Worst and Hoping for the Best Friday, Oct 9 2009 

Social distancing is a strategy that the federal government has included in the response plans for an H1N1 epidemic. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services states in its Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to the 2009 – 2010 Influenza Season:

“If severity increases, public health officials may recommend a variety of methods for increasing the physical distance between people (called social distancing) to reduce the spread of disease, such as school dismissal, child care program closure, canceling large community gatherings, canceling large business-related meetings, spacing workers farther apart in the workplace, canceling non-essential travel, and recommending work-from-home strategies for workers that can conduct their business remotely.”

The guidance also states:

  • “Explore whether you can establish policies and practices, such as flexible worksites (e.g., telecommuting) and flexible work hours (e.g., staggered shifts), when possible, to increase the physical distance among employees and between employees and others if local public health authorities recommend the use of social distancing strategies. Ensure that you have the information technology and infrastructure needed to support multiple workers who may be able to work from home.
  • Identify essential business functions, essential jobs or roles, and critical elements within your supply chains (e.g., raw materials, suppliers, subcontractor services/products, and logistics) required to maintain business operations. Plan for how your business will operate if there is increasing absenteeism or these supply chains are interrupted.
  • Set up authorities, triggers, and procedures for activating and terminating the company’s response plan, altering business operations (e.g., possibly changing or closing operations in affected areas), and transferring business knowledge to key employees. Work closely with your local health officials to identify these triggers.
  • Plan to minimize exposure to fellow employees or the public if public health officials call for social distancing.
  • Establish a process to communicate information to workers and business partners on your 2009 H1N1 influenza response plans and latest 2009 H1N1 influenza information. Anticipate employee fear, anxiety, rumors, and misinformation, and plan communications accordingly.”

The impact on the business can be significant if the enterprise has not planned ahead. Key communication and collaboration tools (e.g. e-mail, instant messaging, web conferencing, and team workspaces) should be identified and evaluated for capabilities to help an enterprise to continue to function in the event that facilities are closed and large numbers of employees in certain geographic areas are ill or have to work remotely.

Adobe – One to Watch Thursday, Oct 1 2009 

I blogged yesterday on the CCS blog about “Zimbra for Sale?”. The blog lists several vendors in the e-mail / collaboration market and my thoughts on the potential for them to acquire Zimbra. Of all of them, I think Adobe is one of the most interesting to watch, at the moment.

Adobe’s strengths have been the creation and packaging of content. As Adobe looks to grow leveraging its strengths, expanding into communication and collaboration is a logical direction. But Adobe is doing it with a twist – a focus on SaaS (as evidenced by their recent acquisition of Omniture), while still providing on-premise capabilities. Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro is a great example. Adobe’s strategy plays well to what most enterprises are interested in – a hybrid model of SaaS and on-premise for their communication and collaboration technologies that gives them control over where the data sits.

If Adobe does add e-mail at some point, it will be interesting to see if they can make headway against Microsoft and IBM. Potentially, they could capture a market position as the alternative to Microsoft and IBM for the enterprise for communication and collaboration technology.