Balancing proactive and reactive business approaches is tricky. If you wait too long to address a risk, your business could suffer a major blow, but investing in a what-if scenario costs time and money that may not be the best investment—unless you consider peace-of-mind about your company’s future a sound financial investment. Too many times, companies who fail to invest in disaster recovery planning find themselves spending exponentially more in real costs and lost opportunities.
However, it’s admittedly difficult to fathom the impact of a disaster if we haven’t lived through one. Businesses often put off succession planning, technology upgrades, and disaster recovery planning because the threat is not eminent. It is somewhere in the unforeseeable future. But, especially in the case of a data emergency, trust that it is somewhere in the future. For instance, 89 percent of all healthcare organizations have experienced data breaches, which could result in data loss. Small businesses without the security infrastructure and regulations of healthcare organizations are at even greater risk.
And that’s just one aspect of a disaster that could threaten business continuity. Companies may have to contend with fires, floods and natural disasters that could damage mission critical equipment and even put a temporary halt to business operations.
Any number of disasters could strike your business, including:
- Cyber-attacks: Several hospitals have come under attack with a form of malware known as ransomware in the last several months. The issue has forced professionals to return to using fax machines and prevented doctors from accessing medical records. In 2015, businesses and people in the country lost over $24 million in ransomware
- Natural disasters: When Hurricane Sandy hit the northeastern coastline in 2012, businesses throughout the area suffered. Businesses and individuals who suffered losses in Maryland are still waiting for financial assistance from various recovery programs today. The deadline for requesting financial support has been extended to December 1, 2016.
- Data leaks and losses: Cybercriminals are not the only ones at fault for serious data disasters. While you may not hear their names revealed on national television, employees are often responsible for data losses. They lose mobile hardware, use poor password protection, and may unknowingly reveal important information online.
Y2K was a false alarm, but that doesn’t mean that the myriad additional threats businesses face today are also false alarms. Don’t let your fears of spending time and money on disaster recovery planning or a sense of complacence lull you into ignoring your disaster recovery strategy any longer. Take action now, before a disaster strikes.
Create a Tailored Disaster Recovery Plan that Works for You
Disaster recovery is a key element of business continuity. To maintain revenue streams, protect human capital, and keep the lights on at the office, you need a disaster recovery plan suited for your business. Explore your options and compare the costs of contingency planning with the costs of a threat. With these numbers on hand, it may even be easier to get buy-in from the CFO and the rest of your c-suite. Planning almost always costs less in the long run. How do you start creating a disaster recovery plan for your business?
- Read the case studies. Do some research on disasters that have affected businesses like yours. Some survive and some fail. Learn from their mistakes, so you don’t have to rely on your own experience for every threat.
- Discover the true cost of a disaster. Consider how a disaster will affect existing customers, new acquisitions, your reputation, and brand accessibility. Planning extends to the people involved in a business, not just hardware, data, and physical buildings. Insurance won’t cover the loss of employee morale or the public’s perception of your business.
- Look for scalable, cloud-based solutions. Turn to the cloud for secure, cost-effective, scalable disaster recovery and data back-up solutions. Managed services, cloud data storage, and Software-as-a-Service solutions, not to mention Hardware-as-a-Service programs that are growing in popularity, can provide the solutions your company needs along with guidance, training, and advice on how best to implement the solutions. In addition, cloud-based and remotely managed services have the added advantage of being accessible even if your brick-and-mortar offices no longer exist. Losing your facility is a scary prospect, but the cloud makes it possible to keep your business running from anywhere, in nearly any situation.
- Review and optimize your plan. Run through drills and consider every disruption as a learning opportunity. Analyze your current plan and change it to match evolving threats. Business changes at a rapid rate and so does the threat landscape. Relying on a disaster recovery plan from five years ago may fall short of your current needs.
- Don’t count on outside help. Some businesses assume federal or local government or charity organizations will offer support after a serious disaster. Even businesses that do qualify for assistance may not see the compensation until years after the fact. By positioning your company to bounce back in the face of disaster, instead of looking for help you could be the local heroes helping others in your community.
Every business has a different set of challenges to face in disaster recovery. Consider the factors that would keep your business moving forward in the event of a disaster, and start working on a formalized plan today. Business experience will not prepare you for every disaster likelihood, but investing the resources in a strong disaster recovery and business continuity plan will make your company stronger.
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Daniel Newman is the Principal Analyst of Futurum Research and the CEO of Broadsuite Media Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise. From Big Data to IoT to Cloud Computing, Newman makes the connections between business, people and tech that are required for companies to benefit most from their technology projects, which leads to his ideas regularly being cited in CIO.Com, CIO Review and hundreds of other sites across the world. A 5x Best Selling Author including his most recent “Building Dragons: Digital Transformation in the Experience Economy,” Daniel is also a Forbes, Entrepreneur and Huffington Post Contributor. MBA and Graduate Adjunct Professor, Daniel Newman is a Chicago Native and his speaking takes him around the world each year as he shares his vision of the role technology will play in our future.