What happens if your business loses access to the internet for a week?
What happens if your cell phone and half of your employees’ phones don’t work for multiple days?
By now, you’ve most likely heard about what happened in Nashville on Christmas Day. You may not have heard, however, details on how this event has disrupted critical communications systems ranging from Kentucky to Alabama and the Carolinas—far beyond Nashville.
This event highlights for us the vulnerabilities of some of our basic infrastructure that we rely so heavily on every day. Disruptions to this infrastructure and these systems can greatly impact our lives and businesses. We would be wise to plan for disruptions in these critical systems, with the hope that these plans will never be needed.
Over the weekend, the Texas CEO Magazine team talked with some experts on these topics. We asked them what advice they would give business leaders who are seeking to insulate their businesses from such events in the future. Obviously, circumstances vary greatly, but these recommendations are broadly useful for many people in many different lines of work.
1) Consider getting a second cell phone from another major cell carrier. Consider having a few extra phones on hand for other key members of your team to use in case of emergency. Use multiple major cell carriers.
2) If your daily work relies on GPS technology and that GPS technology goes down, this could be devastating. Many of us haven’t touched paper maps in years, but you may want to consider having paper map backups on hand or downloading maps to your phone. Even if the cell towers are not available to triangulate your position on those maps, you can still use the downloaded maps to find your way. If you run a business in which many of your team members rely on GPS technology, you might want to advise them to carry maps and/or download them.
3) Almost all of us rely heavily on information stored in the cloud. You might want to review your most important data and keep a local backup of it in case the internet is down for an extended period of time.
4) Assess your systems and figure out which ones would be most problematic for you and your business if they suddenly didn’t work. This varies greatly with each business, but there are some questions every CEO should consider:
· What happens if the internet at our office/facilities doesn’t work for a week?
· What happens if my employees don’t have internet access anywhere, including at home?
· What happens if my cell phone doesn’t work? What happens if my employees’ phones don’t work?
· What happens if our internet AND phones don’t work?
· What happens if online banking doesn’t work?
And so on. Find the vulnerabilities that would be most damaging for your business and then build redundancies and a plan. Make sure you include other key leaders at your company in the planning, and communicate with your team about the aspects of that plan that pertain to them. Consider having emergency drills to help your team find vulnerabilities, problems, and solutions. Google does this regularly to ensure that their team and systems are ready for emergencies when they happen. We should do similarly.
2020 has been full of challenges, and no doubt we will see more challenges in 2021. May we rise to those new challenges and secure our businesses for whatever the future brings.