Despite assurances that a nationwide blackout is unlikely, in these days of power cuts it is prudent for businesses to develop contingency plans should the worst occur. When it comes to the delivery of essential services, the banking industry needs to plan for more than just keeping the lights on as customers want to be able to draw money from ATMs, use credit cards and bank online, which means banking networks simply cannot fail. This need is well recognised by the South African Reserve Bank, which has requested all banks to report on their state of readiness for managing the impact of long-term power outages to mitigate the impact on customers. In the event of a country-wide blackout, banks would probably be able to provide services based on their current contingency plans, but at a branch and head office level, issues around business continuity in terms of adequate fuel supplies for on-site generators, receiving cash-in-transit deliveries, functioning fixed data lines and adequate cellphone reception also need to be addressed. It would be negligent for banks not to think about these issues, even if they do represent the worst case scenario. Altron TMT, consisting of the Altech and Bytes group of companies, has gone beyond thinking to action by proactively devising solutions to help banks reduce their power consumption according to Zak Mesnard, Financial Services Key Account Executive at Altron TMT. Banks are looking at how they can be more power efficient and the responsibility for that is shifting from facilities management to the ICT arena, he says. As a supplier of ICT solutions we recommend holistic solutions as part of an innovative approach, by designing a solution combination from three or four of our businesses. The key theme is power efficiency solutions, or the next wave of being smart. Mesnard says that banks are mostly on top of the situation, with massive generators on standby to keep their branches open. But we can help them be strategic with innovations not only at branch level but also at their large head office facilities. Developing sustainable energy programmes for banks involves a handful of companies in the Altron TMT stable. Our service and design strategy includes, for example, campus rooftop solar design and installation which are essentially small, strategically placed solar farms that could allow a banks customers to draw power from it, as well as innovative solutions for rural areas. We are also evaluating new cost effective solutions for a banks customer who is buying a first home, or existing bond mortgagers, around various options for solar energy powered homes and estates. Bytes Managed Solutions creates data centre solutions that work around power and infrastructure constraints, and run data centre efficiency assessments including cooling, branch office mini-data centres, modular data centres, data centre infrastructure management platforms and generator solutions. From a power side, Altron sister company, Powertech System Integrators (PTSI), can supply power generation innovations, metering, monitoring and diagnostics, energy and cost allocation, load shifting, peak clipping, energy management interventions, water recovery, rooftop solar panel installations, and situational awareness systems that provide visual displays of how those systems are performing. And Bytes Universal Systems has the flexibility to source value adding solution components from global partners or develop local in-house solutions that match customer requirements, and, as an Oracle partner of choice, are able to add the Oracle Primavera package to the mix to manage a banks property elements. When our businesses all work together we are able to provide a comprehensive solution suite. The market is changing and this is an opportunity to be visionary and innovative, Mesnard says. We look at how old their technologies are and how they are used, and look at the branches that could have power or water leakages that we can monitor remotely with our tools. Once all these factors have been considered, we come up with the perfect solution to keep the power on and ensure business continuity.