Trying times – disaster resilience planning

Last updated: 19 March 2014

It’ll never happen here. This may have been common sentiment a few years ago when it comes to natural disasters and severe weather but, in light of this particularly damaging year in the US and around the world, I think it’s safe to say we can put this expression to rest.

As a born and raised Louisianian, I’m no stranger to the damage caused by hurricanes. It’s a way of life when you’re a Gulfer, and hurricanes are thought to be inevitable come August, often multiple times during the season. You simply brace yourself against the storm and hope for the best.

My heart goes out to those affected by Hurricane Sandy. Of course the east coast is no stranger to storms, but it’s not as common as in the Gulf. And to have a hurricane occur so late in the season, plus the onset of winter plus the hugely populated areas affected PLUS the impact of business in the area – it was the ‘perfect’ storm to say the least.

It’s been a few weeks, and it seems that people are slowly but surely trying to piece back together their lives. A big part of daily life is the workplace, so how have businesses fared during and after the storm? The northeast is a massive hub for major businesses, so this question has been asked and analyzed frequently as the aftermath sets in. As The Economist stated in a recent story, companies often think they’re prepared to sustain during a natural disaster, but so often there is a gaping hole in their so-called ironclad plans. As a result, yet another new lesson must be learned in preparation for next time.

But as Rachel Dines, senior analyst with Forrester Research, indicated in a recent article, there is no downtime in business, even in the face of a disaster. Business must learn to be resilient, not just simply recover. “Organizations must evolve beyond reactive business continuity and IT disaster recovery (BC/DR) to proactive business technology resiliency,” she wrote.

Meteorologists have suggested that instances of natural disasters like Sandy will only continue to increase with each year. Perhaps businesses should adapt similar mentality of my people back home in Louisiana, and brace for impact. Although we can’t control the weather, the way businesses manage their day-to-day during a disaster is a ball in their court. Business technology resiliency plans, roadmaps and strategy are things that can and should be finely tuned on a regular basis. With emerging new technologies playing an ever greater part in our lives (personally and professionally), it’s good to know that they can also adapt to offer help during these testing times, as Twitter’s own blog shows.

The days of it will never happen here are over. Let’s be prepared so that business can thrive and prosper no matter the climate.

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