Storm Disaster. Lessons Learned.
Between Christmas and New Year’s, the Central Illinois area experienced freezing rain and strong winds, which brought about area-wide power and internet outages. Some of our clients were without power for at least four days. A few went without internet even longer. Around the same time, IT360 and other RiverFront properties experienced another flood of the Illinois River (on a side note, IT360 moved into our current location in March of 2013 and have experienced 3 of the top 11 river floods in recorded history). Not something we even considered when deciding to locate here, but we realize we cannot control everything when it comes to our business. Like everything else, it is about evaluating and mitigating risk. I will use the latest storm and flood as examples of addressing the risk:
Internet Outage: Mitigate the risk by connecting to an additional internet provider, preferably using a different transport medium (Coax vs Fiber vs Copper). Use this as a failover when your primary connection goes down.
Power Outage: Purchase a portable generator that is safe for computers to run during a power outage. While you may still have some downtime, you are able to power up the important items in your office to continue operations. Make sure that it is sized appropriately and serviced every year.
Power Outage: Purchase an automatic generator that provides power to your business during an outage. This avoids the risk of having to deal with power outages in the first place. However, there can be a large cost associated with putting this in place.
Power Outage: Most business insurance will not cover lost revenue and wages if the power outage is not directly related to damage done to your building. A power line going down a block away from your location will not trigger your insurance company to pay out. Most insurance companies require a rider that specifically includes off-premise power outage as a covered loss.
River Flooding: Short of moving to avoid the risk altogether, there is not much we can do. We have contingency plans and DR solutions ready to go, but that is all we can do when the next one comes.
No solution is ever perfect, but by thinking through the ‘what ifs’ and possibly implementing some risk strategies, you will be better prepared for the next round of outages. They will happen and usually occur at the most inconvenient times. At IT360, we also like to think about risk mitigation as a tool to develop a competitive edge. I’m sure that the same strategy could be a competitive advantage in your business as well.