In an ever-increasingly high-tech world, we often look to technologies to solve our problems. Most businesses are doing away with their low-tech gadgets (or have already), like simple mechanical adding machines, to make room for all the new gadgets and devices. But before you toss out those old phones, learn how they can play an important part in your disaster recovery efforts.
How the Japanese Company SAP Survived a Triple Hit Using Low-Tech
In 2011, Japan underwent a three-fold disaster. An earthquake triggered a tsunami, which in turn led to a nuclear meltdown. In terms of “worst case scenario” this was it. SAP, located in Tokyo, was essentially at ground zero of the disaster. The company had 1,000 employees to locate and work to be done, despite the unfolding trauma around them.
Fortunately, the Japanese are resilient, brilliant thinkers who adore their tech devices. The company communicated, conducted business, and survived via workers’ personal computers and mobile devices. They shifted some of the workload outside the affected zone, and utilized laptops, smartphones, and tablets for what had to be handled locally. Moral to the story? BYOD policies might come with risks, but could bail you out of serious trouble in a disaster situation.
Sony? Again? Yes, But This Isn’t What You’ve Heard Ad Nauseam
Amid more media frenzy than has been seen since the new Pope was elected, Sony Pictures Entertainment was hacked, causing a computer outage at the Culver City, California location. Though Sony didn’t have much going for them at the time (not even the President supported their decision to pull the movie release), they did have a stash of old Blackberry phones, which proved to be their saving grace.
Along with some ancient payroll machines, access to employees’ personal email accounts, and good old pens and paper, the phones allowed Sony to maintain critical operations while systems were down. Moral to the story? Don’t toss outdated equipment that could remain viable after a disaster. The IT help desk can turn these dinosaurs into a communications goldmine when necessary.
Using Technologies During a Disaster
Mobile technologies are an excellent backup plan when primary systems are down, but there are some points to remember when mobile devices are your backup plan:
- Disasters can take down or damage cell towers. In Moore, Oklahoma in 2013, tornadoes knocked out most area cell towers. Cellular providers brought in vans with portable towers, but it took time to clear roadways for access and get the vans in place. Don’t depend on cellular communications in the immediate aftermath of a disaster.
- Mobile devices are worthless without power. If mobile is a critical part of your disaster plans, invest in solar chargers, generators, and spare batteries. Don’t forget fuel for generators, which may be unavailable or in short supply following a disaster.
- Use the full potential of mobile devices. When phone calls or text messages don’t go through, other types of messages might: such as social media, email, Skype, etc. Varying the use of data and phone services, you can get messages through that otherwise get jammed. For instance, Twitter use, phone calls, and texting jammed communications for a bit after the D.C. area earthquake in 2011. The same thing happened following Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
Several technologies can be tremendously helpful during a disaster, including access to cloud-based services, manual machines for common tasks like payroll, and access to secure VPN. Be prepared as possible for the unexpected, ensure that your IT service management system (ITSM) offers solutions that can assist you even in a disaster situation.
About Matt Fuchs
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