Whether or not your business was affected by this recent storm, it should give you reason to ensure you have a solid disaster recovery (DR) plan. Be it hurricane, tornado, flood, blizzard, or any other unforeseen disaster, it’s crucial for your company to take steps to minimize any disruption in communications with employees and customers.
The Disaster Recovery Journal estimates that as many as 80% of all U.S. companies don't have an effective DR plan. This does not bode well for the majority of American business’ systems and data, and ultimately, their future survival.
Here are three disaster recovery essentials to keep you in business by safeguarding your customer data and communications- and confirming that your business services vendors do the same- during future emergencies:
1. BUSINESS CONTINUITY MANAGEMENT
Business Continuity Management (BCM) is defined as a management process that identifies potential threats to an organization and the impacts to business operations those threats might cause. BCM provides a framework for building organizational resilience with the capability of an effective response that safeguards the interests of its key stakeholders, reputation, brand, and value-creating activities. Although this term is used interchangeably with DR, business continuity addresses more comprehensive planning that focuses on long term or chronic challenges to organizational success. Potential business continuity problems may include the illness or departure of key team members, supply chain breakdowns, catastrophic failures or critical malware infections.
Should a natural disaster or unexpected power outage occur, data must be accessible from a remote backup facility. Data must be comprehensively backed up at a secure location that features total redundancy of all online systems, databases, communications, power, form inventories, and print and mail facilities.
2. DATA SECURITY AND ARCHIVING
Data security, of course, is extremely important at all times. According to the Disaster Recovery Preparedness Council’s Annual Report, 60% of companies that experience mass data loss will shut down within six months of a disaster.
As business-critical data continues to grow at an exponential rate, and universal regulations such as HIPAA and the Patriot Act compel organizations to store data longer, archiving is an essential element to a DR plan. For customer data and business-critical communications such as statements, letters and notices, it is recommended that ePresentment is utilized.
3. MULTI-CHANNEL COMMUNICATION
In the event of a natural disaster, alternate forms of communication are crucial. When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, USPS mail service was suspended for weeks across several states. It is important for businesses to reach their customers and deliver business-critical communications, no matter the circumstances. It is recommended that businesses not only incorporate messages on their own websites and ePresentment into their DR plan, but also email, SMS and social media.
·Email: Sending emails during emergency situations as a valid method of communication. Email servers are located globally, and it’s unlikely they will all be dead at the same time. But where do you get Internet access if cell phone service is dead? Oftentimes, WiFi service will still be up and running, since the cables used for hard wired Internet operate on different networks than cell phones. For most WiFi, you don’t even need to be in the building to access the service.
·Text: Text messages require far less bandwidth than phone calls, and even when the ominous “all circuits are busy” recording comes on, texts will still work as they operate on a parallel network to cell phones.
·Social Media: Social media is similar to email in that it is hosted on a network of global servers, providing redundancy and fault tolerance. Because your customers are all unique in their social media preferences, the more social media outlets you communicate on, the better.
When it comes to your business and natural disasters, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Ensuring your business, as well as your vendors, have strong DR plans will give you and your customers peace of mind in knowing you have them covered.
Want to learn more about disaster recovery? Click here to access Cisco’s Disaster Recovery Best Practices.