Chennai is one of the top global hubs for the IT industry. However, the impact of the incessant rain on Sunday and Monday left the industry searching for a solution as many of the IT buildings were surrounded by water, making it impossible for employees to access them.

Making it worse, employees couldn’t opt for work-from-home (WFH) option due to lack of electricity. And, even if power was available, Internet was not accessible in many parts of the city as cables were cut and telecom towers were not functioning due to lack of diesel to operate the generators.

The social media was flooded with videos of knee deep water in IT areas such as Sholinganallur and Velachery. A video showed a swimming pool like appearance with water inside the Ascendas IT Park.

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The inability of the city infrastructure to withstand such natural calamities could impact the industry’s image.

Gopal Srinivasan, Chairman, TVS Capital Funds, in a post on X (Twitter) said, “Poor city management during the recent rains highlighted business continuity challenges in Chennai. With no power; no internet; no cellular service; WFH was not possible. As a major GCC and IteS Hub, this raises the question of Chennai’s viability as a ITeS/IT GCC.”

While any disruption to services will dent the image of any State or business, progressive companies have well-documented and time-tested business continuity plans in place. These plans usually get triggered in anticipation of an event, said Ramkumar Ramamoorthy, Partner at Catalincs and former CMD, Cognizant India.

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In the context of a globally networked workforce with distributed competencies, another team in a different city usually takes over when one goes down even for a few hours, he added.

Technology companies have incrementally strengthened their business preparedness and resilience with every calamity in different parts of the world, including the Covid-19 pandemic, he said.

The IT industry is used to such natural events not only in Chennai but also in places like Bengaluru and Mumbai. “Despite all these, the industry has bounced back strongly. It is all about resilience,” said an official of a leading IT industry.

“I think this is an exception. Tamil Nadu’s strength of talent, engineering colleges, leadership teams, entrepreneurship, law and order, especially safety of people, continue to be key attractions for investment in the State,” said MP Vijay Kumar, CFO, Sify Technologies. Recently, there was a similar situation in Bengaluru when rains pounded the city. However, they did not affect investment decisions, he added.

An official of a larger company inside the Siruseri IT Park, which was unaffected, said, the company declared holiday on Monday and resumed office on Tuesday with limited attendance as people were not able to reach office. However, on Wednesday, it was near normal attendance.

A CEO of a large IT company said that all the major cities have been facing such issues, but what varies is the degree to which the infrastructure and the people are getting affected.

People have to prepare themselves mentally and physically for these floods and the hardship for 2-3 weeks a year. This problem cannot be solved and will worsen further as low lying areas get occupied by new colonies, he said