Hurricane Sandy Puts Emphasis Back on Business Continuity
Hurricane Sandy raged through the Northeast this week, leaving a wake of havoc and devastation in its path. Millions were without power, thousands of homes lost and, yes, people even lost their lives.
Many people were prepared. Many were not. The same goes for businesses. A large portion of Philadelphia, New Jersey, New York and Connecticut businesses were forced to shut down due to flooding and power outages. Again, many were prepared, some were not.
If this wasn’t a giant wake-up call to get your storage, backup and business continuity plans nailed down, I don’t know what it would take. And the big problem I always see when talking about this issue is in the disaster recovery-planning phase. Solution providers and customers love to spout about their bulletproof data-storage and backup strategy and how it’s spread out over different formats and even cloud-based. Yes, technology can help tremendously with safe and secure storage and data backup.
However, this also provides businesses with a false sense of security because without the third leg of the stool — business continuity — the other two are useless. This depends more on processes and protocols than technology, and more often than not gets overlooked.
I work out of three offices on any given week: Long Island, New York City and Hoboken, N.J., and the “power base” in my company is, for the most part, in Hoboken. Well, Hoboken and every street south of 30th Street in New York City were shut down with no power for the good part of the week and most still down. Mass transit came to a grinding halt and since has slowly resumed, but no one knows when any type of regular service will be restored.
I am stuck on Long Island. I had no power for three days and no Internet and spotty cell service for the good part of four days. To be honest, I did not give my data backup and storage a second thought. We were covered and I knew it. What concerned me the most was making sure my businesses, customers and projects continued to move forward even when part of my team and I could not.
Prior to the hurricane we had a departmental meeting to make sure we had backup on every project and customer call. That was followed by a higher-level meeting to make sure the other department heads knew who was out of touch and who wasn’t, and this information was shared with all our individual staffs. If we couldn’t meet in Hoboken in person, could we do a conference call? If we couldn’t do a conference call, can we get things done via email? If email wasn’t available, then how about cells and instant messaging? The point is, we had a Plan A, Plan B and Plan C for communications and continuing business.
I’ve said this many times before: Technology will only get you so far; business strategies need to take over at some point. We’ve seen it with ERP, CRM and virtualization strategies. Most don’t fail because the technology didn’t work. They fail because the organizations didn’t support and prepare for the deployment and execution.
Here too as a solution provider is a situation where you have tremendous influence. You are engrained in your customer’s business and need to prepare them to prepare their organizations beyond the technology deployment phase.
How prepared were you, personally and professionally, for Sandy?
Knock em alive!