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June 6, 2014updated 22 Sep 2016 11:32am

5 things IT bosses should be worried about during the World Cup

Forget penalties, these are the real concerns to look out for in Brazil.

By Vinod

With just days to go until the World Cup kicks off in Brazil, excitement is growing around the world. But how should you best deal with your employees’ desire to keep track of the action?

Major sporting events often have a major effect on business performance, so to ensure you don’t get caught out, here are five things every boss should be wary of over the next month.


First off, one of the most obvious effects the World Cup might have on your workforce is that of productivity. Although the majority of games won’t be taking place during typical 9-5 work hours, people will still be discussing the previous night’s game or upcoming matches, or browsing news and video sites in the office.

Multicultural workforces also mean different workers might be keen to leave early to support their own country, so bosses should prepare to be inclusive and promote flexible working hours in order to boost staff morale. "Whether you are continuing to develop an existing policy, or enabling your team to work flexibly for the first time, it’s important to consider the impact that the tournament will have on your employees and workflow," says Tim Stone, VP at Polycom.

There’s also the risk of workers overdoing it on a work night if watching a match in the pub and phoning in sick the next day, meaning flexible working could be ideal to get the best out of your employees. "Offering remote working will enable employees to work from home or on-the-go, in turn helping them to get their work done on time, while also getting to enjoy some football," says Barrie Hadfield, founder and CTO of enterprise and collaboration firm Workshare.

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Company networks

If workers are keeping up with the tournament during work hours, companies need to ensure that their networks can support this spike in data usage.

"I have heard of many companies whose internal networks have actually crashed due to the volume of video bandwidth during events such as the Olympics," says Daniel Rudich, SVP of CLM services provider Tangoe. "Given that an average HD football game can consume approximately 2-4 GB of data if you do not have unlimited data plans this can be very expensive given at the world cup each team plays at least 3 times in a month. "

Robert Arandjelovic, EMEA Director of Products and Solutions at Blue Coat, agrees, saying that businesses should look at real-time visibility into applications and network traffic to identify and separate business traffic from non-critical/recreational traffic.


Security Scams

Security is always a major concern for businesses, and major events can bring threats both from abroad and at home. Cybersecuirty scams reach a peak around competition time as fans use the web to search for information on players or teams, with phishing scams looking to trick people out of site logins or personal details a very prevalent threat.

"Businesses need to be mindful of the fact that hackers exploit users’ enthusiasm to explore new sites", warns Vinod Mohan from SolarWinds. "With the amount of sensitive data stored on a company’s system, bosses need to ensure that the right precautions are being taken to ensure that employees’ eagerness to keep up with the games is not putting the company at risk."

"Don’t worry about England’s leaky defence," says Melih Abdulhayoglu, CEO of internet security provider Comodo, "worry more about your PC’s leaky defences. If your employees are running traditional antivirus products, then there’s no way they can be fully protected from malware. Just as England should try and contain Uruguay, so too should you be using containment to defend against malware"

BYOD Issues

With many of the games in Brazil taking place after work hours, it may be that employees turn to work devices to watch or keep track of matches, tuning in on the commute from work or at home.

BYOD working has become extremely popular in recent years, and companies need to ensure they aren’t going to suffer the costs if employee demand can’t be sated. "Organisations still reliant on outdated technology may find the World Cup highlights a need for greater investment in scalable and flexible network infrastructures", warns Joy Gardham at networking specialist Brocade.

There’s also the very real possibility that employees may take this flexibility a little too far, with drunken celebrations possibly meaning the death of devices lost or stolen in the pub. This could lead to more than a bill for a new device, however.

"Losing laptops is easy," says Chris McIntosh, CEO at ViaSat UK, "Businesses must ensure that either there’s nothing sensitive stored: or information is protected from unwanted eyes."

"If you’re not 100% confident in your data security plan, the possible consequences could be more excruciating than watching England trying to progress past the group stage," warns Nicholas Banks from storage and data security specialists Imation.

Data Roaming

Finally, for those organisations involved with the competition or who have staff travelling to Brazil, there is further possibility of high charges related to BYOD usage. In some parts of the world roaming data can cost $50/MB, warns Daniel Rudich, Senior Vice President of Tangoe, which means a single world cup game can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to view.

This risk can be minimised with proper preparation, however. Brazilian operator (and official partner of the competition) Oi is offering a R$40 prepaid mobile kit especially for visitors, which includes access to over 600,000 Oi Wi-Fi hotspots and credit valid for up to 30 days.



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