As disaster recovery and business continuity continue to be major topics of discussion among entrepreneurs, government officials and others, the pace with which companies are deploying new solutions has begun to speed up. At the same time, small-business owners have had to strive to be as lean as possible, as waste can quickly lead to poor profit margins and increased risk, which is why cohesion among operational strategies is so important today.
With hurricane season moving quickly into its peak stages toward the end of August and beginning of September, the time is certainly right to begin fortifying disaster recovery and continuity strategies, and trying to do so in such a way that benefits everyday productivity. When organizations get more out of one asset, they will inherently enjoy stronger returns on their investments than with strategies that only use a piece of IT for an individual purpose.
Many of the more advanced technologies that are already being used by small-business owners for operational improvements come with natural benefits to disaster recovery and continuity. However, these tools do need to be properly managed and understood before they can yield performance-related advantages, with policies reflecting the dual purpose of boosting daily operational efficiency and mitigating the threats of downtime and loss.
If you want a quick explanation of some of the more basic aspects of recovery before diving into the technologies that can be used to excel, check out this video from Throttle Net on the topic:
So, to keep this conversation centered on the most pressing threat to continuity facing many small businesses in the next few months, let's discuss some of the technologies that can be most advantageous from a recovery standpoint and still fuel performance improvement in everyday operations. By leveraging these particular tools, companies will be safeguarding their investments should a damaging hurricane never even strike the workplace.
Here are our five top technologies that fit this description, in no particular order:
1. Cloud infrastructure
Data backup has been relatively well-understood for years now, but business leaders appear to only now realize the importance of protecting core IT infrastructure from downtime and loss, including networks ad data centers. Cloud-based infrastructure has become popular in the small business sector for its ability to boost the power and flexibility of IT while simultaneously reducing capital expenditures and shifting the spending to operational budget.
So, the use of cloud infrastructure can simultaneously work to ensure that networks, data centers and other systems are protected against outages brought on by hurricanes and other threats, while coming with tangible advantages for daily operations.
2. Unified communications
Collaboration is likely the most important aspect of innovation, and meeting the demands of the modern workforce when it comes to communications technology is critical to maintaining engagement, efficiency and productivity. At the same time, the diversity and sheer volume of communication tools to have become popularized among workforce members have grown significantly in the past few years, challenging small-business owners in many ways.
By deploying solutions that unify all of the communications assets held by a company, it will be far easier to ensure the most efficient use of budget and strong operational enablement for all. Additionally, healthy UC frameworks can be among the most critical tools within a continuity strategy, as they will keep all employees on the same page and connected in the event of a major hurricane that takes down primary modes of communication.
3. Cloud management software
Coming back to cloud services, management software that falls into the category of mission-critical will need to be properly protected against loss and outage for a company to enjoy optimal resilience to operational disruption. For example, if sales staff cannot access customer relationship management software due to a power outage at the physical workplace following a hurricane, they will not be able to complete their tasks as intelligently.
In that same vein, enterprise resource planning, risk management and other core software need to be adequately backed up around this time of year, and cloud-based options can be used for this purpose. By migrating CRM, ERP, ERM and other management software to the cloud, firms will also be better-positioned to enable telecommuting programs and remote work, further boosting the profitability of the business.
"Automation software should be a priority for entrepreneurs."
If your core processes have not yet been automated, chances are you are not enjoying the maximum level of accuracy and efficiency within accounting, human resources and other aspects of the business. As such, automation software should be a priority for small businesses when approaching their process management frameworks, working to ensure that repetitive tasks are handled seamlessly and redundant ones are consolidated.
When reporting and similar processes have been properly automated, some of the more under-the-radar threats involved in hurricane season will be mitigated somewhat proactively to boot. Should operations not be moving at full tilt or certain employees not be able to show up for work, core tasks will still be completed by the automation software in place, speeding up the recovery process once the smoke clears.
Business leaders are increasingly reliant upon BYOD and similar mobility strategies to maximize employee engagement, operational efficiency and general productivity on a daily basis. With the right strategy in place to manage smartphones, tablets, portable computers and items that would fall into the category of the Internet of Things, the ability to stimulate performance improvement will be enhanced relatively quickly.
Then, should a hurricane strike and knock out certain utilities or other resources, employees will be in a better position to continue on completing their responsibilities given the more diverse range of devices available. Mobility has been cited as one of the more important business assets businesses by leaders in virtually every industry, and can help to improve resilience to both major natural disasters and man-made threats.