Symposium July 2012

Business Continuity Planning: Expect the Unexpected

  • Eight UK firms take part in first event of its kind
  • Features: IT resilience, power management and temporary supply, planning, advice, and consulting
  • Now the hard work begins—doing business

Recognised as among the best in the world for the services and skills they can provide, UK firms that specialise in business continuity planning (BCP) took the opportunity in March to demonstrate their abilities at the British Embassy Tokyo during a day-long symposium—the first of its kind in Japan.

Coming just four days after Japan marked the one-year anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake, the event attracted a healthy crowd of firms looking to ensure they are better prepared when the next disaster strikes.

Participating were eight British firms that ranged from large, globally known brands, such as the Japanese units of BT and BP plc, to smaller specialist consulting firms, including CreativeBCM Ltd and Gloucestershire-based Biscon Planning Limited.

“We wanted to create an informative day, with a variety of experts talking about a range of topics all related to the headline theme of Business Continuity Planning”, said Steve Crane, founder of Business Link Japan, which organised the event in collaboration with the British Embassy Tokyo.

“We targeted UK firms with expertise in IT resilience, power management and temporary power supply, as well as BCP planning, advice and consulting services”, he added. “In addition to bringing value to Japanese firms, we wanted to showcase the best of UK expertise in this field and to get leading British firms interested in the concept of doing business in Japan”.

Sponsored by Glasgow-based temporary power solutions firm Aggreko plc, and with the support of the UK Cabinet Office, the event was addressed by Stuart Sterling, assistant director of the Civil Contingencies Secretariat.

“In order to create as much opportunity as possible for networking and business discussion, we incorporated an exhibition display area and, after the presentations had finished, we facilitated one-to-one meetings and discussions between the UK experts and Japanese firms”, Crane said.

“This has led to a significant number of discussions opening up, and opportunities for the UK firms to develop business with the Japanese firms”, he added. “We were pleased to see so many Japanese enterprises waiting to speak with the UK experts, and initial feedback on the opportunities is very positive and exciting”.

Ambassador Sir David Warren addressed the gathering and reminded those present how important it is to prepare well for the next crisis.

“The sad reality is that, more than any other developed economy, Japan faces a high risk of natural disasters: not just earthquakes, but also the eruption of volcanoes, as well as the wind damage of the typhoon season and associated flooding.

“And as the recent floods in Thailand demonstrated, as Japanese firms seek growth through investment in global markets and operations become interdependent, it is not only domestic contingencies that they need to consider, but also the global dimension”, he added.

The others represented at the day-long symposium were best-practice experts BSI Group Japan K.K., Newton Consulting Ltd., and utility infrastructure firm Sensus UK Systems Ltd.

“We have been active in the Japanese market for the past six months and, with the help of organisations such as UKTI [UK Trade & Investment], Business Link Japan, JETRO and METI [the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry], we have made great progress during that time”, said Mike Murphy, director of strategic accounts at Sensus. “This event gives us the opportunity to present our FlexNet Smart Grid solution to a large audience of Japanese firms in one go, and we are delighted to be part of [this event]”.

Crane said he was very satisfied with the outcome of the first-of-its-kind event, and expressed the hope that it will lead to further business opportunities in the months and years ahead.

“The whole day had a buzz of excitement and interest, and it was good to see, firstly, such a great response from Japanese firms attending and, secondly, that they attended all day and stayed on to participate in the exhibition and one-to-one meeting sessions”, he added.

“Of course, the next challenge starts now—converting all this interest and discussion into concrete business opportunities. UKTI and Business Link Japan will be helping the UK firms follow through and achieve that”.