Five ways businesses can prepare for extreme weather events

By: Andrea Sayles

Along the East Coast of the U.S., residents are grappling with the aftermath of Hurricane Florence. Typhoon Mangkut has caused similar damage in Hong Kong, mainland China, and the Philippines, forcing millions to evacuate across the region.

According to initial reports, Florence knocked out electricity to more than 1 million businesses and homes, prompted more than 1,000 rescue operations, canceled thousands of flights, and caused cities and towns throughout North and South Carolina to be evacuated as well. Estimates put the economic impact of the storm at up to $50 billion, which would put Hurricane Florence in the top 10 costliest storms to hit the U.S.

The safety of family and employees is always the first priority in any emergency, but as the federal and local government takes steps to help the affected areas rebound, business leaders should be doing their part to restore infrastructure and reinforce business resilience for future storms.

Keeping critical technology and business processes running throughout extreme weather events allows experts to help mitigate or prevent things like power outages, flood damage, and loss of critical data. Should these losses occur, the road to disaster recovery must reflect the types of innovation that today’s digital era has come to expect. Success or failure in the recovery process can have personal, financial, and reputational impacts for both businesses and end-users, and touches many aspects of our day-to-day lives.

Here are five tips to help business leaders prepare for, and recover from, extreme weather events:

  1. Assess Your Infrastructure: Businesses should regularly take a full inventory of their entire infrastructure so that both physical and digital infrastructure is secured. If a data center or office is located in a place that has been damaged by flooding in the past, these facilities must be reinforced. Likewise, software and data stored at these sites should be prepped for migration to other data centers well before an alert goes out in an actual crisis. Getting ahead of unpredictable weather will pay dividends for your business.
  2. Open the Lines of Communication: Your entire organization, from the C-suite to the field technician, should understand their role in the company’s disaster recovery. When everyone knows who is managing what ahead of time, you will have clear channels of communication ready to deploy during an incident. Equipping mobile devices or other platforms with company-specific communications tools can help make employees and clients safer and can help solve problems more quickly.
  3. Lead by Example: Before business leaders can prepare their clients for storm readiness, they should take the proper steps to secure and manage their own organization. Leading by example can show your employees and your clients how important it is to evolve alongside a shifting industry with digital solutions.
  4. Automate and Orchestrate: Companies should embrace automation and orchestration of the recovery processes, which sets pre-determined plans to retrieve critical data in the event of a disaster. More enterprises are using cost-effective, hybrid IT environments to manage hardware and software across different vendors and geographies. Without automation though, a manual recovery plan can take time away from experts that could be used to focus on more high-level duties. IBM’s Cloud Resiliency Orchestration can be scaled for any company size and designed to reach specific recovery objectives for any environment.
  5. Test and Repeat: The best way to know if your company is prepared for future incidents is to repeatedly test your infrastructure in the days and months outside of an actual incident. IBM has Resiliency Services Centers around the world where IBMers work with thousands of clients every year to re-create various data center configurations and help determine how an extreme weather event or significant cyber outage could impact a business.

Learn more about disaster recovery or schedule a consultation with one of our experts.

Note: Originally pubished on IBM Think Blog.

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About The Author

Andrea Sayles

General Manager of IBM Business Resiliency Services

Andrea Sayles is General Manager of IBM Business Resiliency Services and has more than 38 years of experience in IBM Sales and Services. She has consistently worked to build teams responsible for IBM's leadership in our Global and Growth Markets. Andrea was named into the Global Business Resiliency role in April 2018. Having a broad... Read more