After the alert spread that US special forces had killed Osama Bin Laden, spontaneous crowds appeared outside the White House and near Ground Zero to cheer the news. This development was incredible to many -- several intelligence experts assumed he was dead already -- but it slowly sank in. The man who ordered both attacks on the World Trade Center was dead and the troops who did it did not suffer any casualties.
While this is a welcome burst of news after a grinding war on terror for nearly a decade, we still need to remember the lessons from September 11, 2001. The US financial center remains a prime target for terrorists who want to cripple the country. It's not a coincidence that fundamental extremists chose the WTC for their target. In fact, if you read Lawrence Wright's insightful, albeit frustrating account of the years before the 9/11 attacks -- entitled The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 -- you remember that the van filled with explosives in the parking lot of the WTC in February 1993 almost took down one of the trade towers.
(In fact, once videotape emerged of OBL discussing the WTC attacks with his advisors and cohorts he expressed surprise that the towers collapsed. This son of a construction engineer/magnate thought that the towers would topple onto adjacent buildings like dominoes.)
Once this celebration fades, responsible managers and executives must renew their commitment to their employees' safety and the continuity of their business.
In the weeks after 9/11, one disaster recovery expert -- this was before the term 'disaster recovery' morphed into the more benign 'business continuity' -- said he spoke with the operations managers at major banks and investment houses and he realized something that was not so surprising: They all had the same DR plan. Eighty percent of the managers said they told their staff to meet at the downtown PATH station and take the train to the offsite business continuity centers in northern New Jersey. No one could have foreseen that the bridges and tunnels would be closed or that everyone on Wall Street would be using the same train terminal.
So amid the cheers and the high-fives today, take the time to dust off, review and update your business continuity plan. No firm can be disaster-proof in the most important financial district on the planet but we can take a valuable lesson from the US military.
Namely, vigilance pays off.
Phil Albinus is the former editor-in-chief of Advanced Trading. He has nearly two decades of journalism experience and has been covering financial technology and regulation for nine years. Before joining Advanced Trading, he served as editor of Waters, a monthly trade journal ... View Full Bio