Transformation in the Eye of the Storm

We have just seen the worst storm to hit the Eastern seaboard in our entire lives. Over eight million people were without power. Roads were closed, businesses were closed, and people were cold. Not to mention the billions of dollars in damages.

This was one of the largest scale disasters, and yet there was less confusion about who was not accounted for than other events due to better communications. Planned for or not, it was also the most impressive display of technology transformation in action. We are talking about Voice and Network transformation, not how real estate was frighteningly transformed in a flash.  Let’s see how these two factors come into play during natural disasters.

Finding a voice in the distance

The very first thing that happens in an emergency is the need to contact those who are important to you. This includes friends, family, neighbors, and your employer.  Luckily, in most cases, homes have multiple services and communication is not a problem. If the power goes out, most plain old telephone service lines still provide a dial tone so that you can make the calls you need to. Or you have a wireless device. If the wireless network is busy, you can text, which uses a different part of the network.

Checking on the safety of staff

What if you are an employer with many employees? One thing many companies do – including my employer – is to have a simple polling mobile application and hotline activated so that they can easily and automatically track the safety of their personnel.

Rerouting calls for business continuity

Even in times of trouble and upheaval, business has to go on.  How does that happen when your employees can’t make it into the office?  You re-route calls.  Callers dial the same numbers as always and the calls are routed to another office that isn’t affected. This can be done with a single phone call, on the Internet, or in some cases automatically if the connections at your selected office are compromised.

Enabling remote access to keep work flowing

How do you get back employees back to work? First they must be able to access your company applications remotely in the event of a disaster.  Employees may scatter, whether moving to higher ground in the event of a hurricane or retreating to their home to avoid a pandemic.  When disaster strikes, a plan to provide remote access to critical applications is paramount to staying productive.  Access to everyday applications like email, or more critical applications like payroll systems, banking, or customer service portals are essential.  In addition, users will be remotely accessing corporate data from a variety of mobile devices such as laptops, smartphones and tablets, which introduces another layer of complexity and concern. The ability to manage mobile devices and provide corporate policies is key in times of unexpected disruption.

Resources you can use to update your disaster recovery plan

All companies should review and update their disaster recovery plans every year. Perhaps, it is time to take a look at some disaster recovery resource and do some planning for yourself, your company and your future as well. Communications continues to improve but disasters continue to strike as well.

AT&T Disaster recovery resources:

Video: Prepare for the Unexpected:  AT&T Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery

Data Protection Information

Cloud Storage

Security Consulting

Where to donate for Hurricane Sandy:
The Red Cross is there for all kinds of disasters and has helped in previous hurricanes.

ASPCA is focused on the pets and animals displaced during the storm.

Do you have other disaster recovery links or tips to share with colleagues so they can prepare their businesses? In the meantime, stay safe everyone!

This blog was Co-written with Dennis Oniki

Sybil Fitzpatrick Lead Product Marketing Communications AT&T About Sybil