Natural disasters cost the government and insurance companies billions every year, the most costly over the past 10 years resulting from hurricanes and earthquakes. However, in 2012, damage due to droughts far outweighed earthquakes. Any natural disaster, big or small, can have a huge impact on industry. We often hear about shortages of certain products due to natural disasters. It wasn’t long ago the news was talking about a predicted shortage of pork due to various factors including last year’s long dry spell. Individual plants can be affected as well. A simple power outage can be caused by a number of natural weather events and can cost a plant a large amount of money if they right mechanisms aren’t in place.
In industry, we often prepare for natural disasters by having back-up power and continuity policies. Mother Nature’s wrath is a natural part of life and sometimes all we can do is have a plan in place to pick up the pieces after the damage. Living in the digital age means that many of the pieces will be in the form of electronic data.
Digital information is both a blessing and a curse depending on how you use it. All the information in your business can potentially be accessed from one computer. At the same time, if something happens to that once computer, where is the data then? A few years ago, people backed up data on compact disk or external hard drives. These are both very good options, but they all pose one problem: they are physical objects which can be easily corrupted or destroyed.
These realities make off-site backup and cloud storage that much more important. Having information stored on the iCloud or SkyDrives means that information is available on any computer, even if the original computer that created the information is destroyed. Likewise, off-site back up, such as the quarterly backup Synergy offers clients through safety plans, makes sure you data is stored safely and that someone can be held accountable if that off-site backup fails.
While our society has grown to rely on digital data, our ability to backup that data is slow in catching up. It is still not uncommon for someone to post a Facebook status proclaiming they need everyone’s phone numbers again because they lost their phone. Business data is greater than a Facebook post can fix, though. In the past three years, 30 percent of small business have been closed for at least 24 hours due to a natural disaster and still, 60 percent of U.S. businesses are without off-site data back up or a formalized recovery plan.
So important are backup and recovery plans that the Control Integrators Association mentions its significance multiple times throughout their best practices document. In fact, it is even a requirement of the audit to be prepared for Mother Nature. As such, we have added a whole host of security measures to our own business. Recently, we upgraded to Office 365, which comes with SkyDrive cloud storage. While we rarely have an issue with our data, it gives us peace of mind to know that our valuable business information is secure. Mother Nature is unpredictable, after all. Who knows where or how she will strike next.