Has anyone else felt like weather has been a bit more extreme in the United States of late? Think about the storms in New England this winter that crushed Boston with record-breaking precipitation and persistent cold. The hurricanes that have passed through countless states and led to billions of dollars in damages in the past few years. The continued urgency in the voices of small business advocacy group members who are stressing the importance of focusing on continuity and recovery.
Well, if you have not noticed any changes in the climate, you might be living in Southern California, but pretty much nowhere else. However, not even the idyllic, steady-weather areas of San Diego and Los Angeles might be spared this year, as new reports indicate that the Pacific Ocean is reaching record-high temperatures, signifying a more intense El Nino than has been seen in years.
"The Pacific Ocean is reaching record-high temperatures."
Yes, you are in the right place for small business technology guidance and news. The above information was just to give you some context as to what the weather seems to be doing in the United States this summer. In the coming weeks, we will sporadically post news about the potential impacts of hurricane season this year, and guidance about what entrepreneurs can be doing to protect their operations from outages and disruptions throughout the remainder of the season and into fall.
Hurricane season will be the focal point, but there are other factors involved in summertime continuity strategies as well. For the first iteration of these posts, we will focus a bit more broadly on this season's best practices of disaster recovery planning and execution, as well as the basic tools that should be used to avoid the damages associated with major events, or at least minimize the hardship experienced.
Summer recovery at a glance
Depending on where your small business is located, you will be contending with a varied range of natural threats, while all entrepreneurs have to be mindful of man-made threats as well. Here is a breakdown of regional risks by way of weather-related events that can quickly lead to disastrous situations for businesses and the general populace:
- Southeast: As the summer months progress, hurricane season will begin to pick up. These storms can knock out power, destroy buildings, flood cities and cause general carnage with wind gusts above 100 miles per hour in some situations.
- Midwest: This season has already been a rough one for the Midwest, with extreme thunder storms, tornadoes and massive amounts of flooding crushing the region. These types of severe weather will generally persist in the beginning of the summer.
- Northeast: After a record-breaking winter of madness for this region, extremely hot weather and the prospect of rogue hurricanes maintaining strength will be a concern for the coming months. Rising ocean temperatures will yield more situations similar to the devastating Hurricane Sandy.
- West Coast: "Drought" is the word of the day, and while this might not impact all industries, any that rely on water for production will need to be mindful of restrictions and shortages. Additionally, as mentioned above, the Pacific is warmer than normal, which could lead to extreme weather.
- Deep South: Where to begin? Parts of Texas have been flooded several times and hurricane season has not even kicked into full gear. Watch for more severe storms and immense quantities of rain to be highly disruptive to businesses, and damaging to structures.
These are the general trends in the weather to be mindful of, but there will almost assuredly be others that must be mitigated through the end of the summer and into early fall. Also, entrepreneurs must ensure that their strategies are tightly aligned with specific threats to their operations rather than taking a cookie-cutter approach, which will almost always leave a wealth of vulnerabilities in the equation.
Understanding the general and common threats is the first step, then small-business owners must supplement that research with more targeted planning for unique objectives and specific risks. Many of the truly dangerous prospects can be quickly mitigated through the use of advanced technologies and plenty of employee preparation.
Solutions to excel
Backup, recovery, disaster prevention, continuity and the like have all been a bit more firmly rooted in a company's technological frameworks in the past few years than ever before. This is largely due to the general increases in reliance upon technology for general operations, and the rapid transformation of consumer and corporate IT that has taken place throughout the past two decades.
Here are some of the solutions that companies can leverage to better protect against the damages that generally accompany natural disasters in the summer and other seasons:
- Cloud services: Whether a firm is using cloud computing to back up data and protect it from total loss, or if small-business owners are simply trying to make their systems and information more available to remote users, this technology is among the best for continuity. Infrastructure, platforms and software can all be hosted in cloud environments to ensure a compromised physical workplace does not translate to long-term outages.
- Unified communications: There might be no other portion of operations that is more important in times of disaster than communication, and this is why UC should be a priority for all entrepreneurs. Between enabling stronger enterprise mobility strategies and boosting the resilience of collaboration in the firm, UC can be a boon to recovery and continuity strategies.
- General managed services: The use of managed services for general IT maintenance, service delivery and more can help to reduce a wealth of threats for small business. Since entrepreneurial firms will rarely have large IT departments, taking this approach will work to reduce the threat of poorly fortified or mismanaged infrastructure, devices, systems and software.
Remember, these technologies must be accompanied by strong policies, plenty of employee education and constant refinement. To ensure that your small business makes it through this summer with strong profits and a lack of disruption from man-made and natural disasters, be sure to continue focusing on further fortifications to your IT, UC and general management procedures.