When technology fails

When technology fails

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Contributors:

Kathleen MacEachern, Policy Analyst, Halifax Chamber of Commerce

A solid backup plan is your best bet to mitigate loss.

Canadians lost access to their social media accounts, internet browsing capability went to zero and calling, texting and emailing was almost impossible. For a few hours — and for those on that specific internet network — the world was at a standstill. Others, like myself, on a different network, watched the epic meltdown occur on Twitter. The fact is though, for many businesses the outage meant lost revenue as phone lines were down, debit machines stopped processing and I’m sure many meetings were cancelled. The lack of internet access would have had a severe impact on businesses in the Atlantic provinces. So, what do businesses do when technology fails?

Prepare for the worst

We all know that technology can fail. The internet can go down, the power can go off, or sometimes just forgetting a password can lead to lost data. The best way to mitigate the loss is to have a backup plan!

• Find an internet backup: Mobile hotspots, often offered by your internet carrier, can save you if you really need the internet at the time it goes down. For instance, during a high-stakes presentation or an important international Skype call.

• Find a good coffee shop: If it’s just your internet that’s down or your power is out, know where a good “work-from-outside” the office spot is.

• Have an offline project: Try writing something by hand. Maybe you need to brainstorm some marketing ideas or a new communications plan. You’ll rediscover how much fun colourful pens and blank paper can be.

• Go to lunch: Sometimes power outages and internet outages don’t last too long, but just long enough for you to try a new restaurant or walk around the block a few times. Getting some vitamin D is always a good option.

Write it down

I often feel like I might be the only person my age with an actual address book. Call me old-fashioned, but there’s something about writing addresses into a fancy notebook with letter dividers. For this reason, I know that if my internet goes down or I lose power my list of contacts won’t go with it. Make sure you have your business or customer contact list written somewhere other than online or on the computer. Maybe you have an important meeting, but because of a loss of power you don’t have any lights. You may want to reschedule, but without knowing their number, this might not be easy.

Have a team meeting

How often do we get a chance to meet with our team without someone constantly checking their emails? If your office loses connectivity or power and you can still see each other, why not check in with everyone’s projects or just have a conversation.

Backup tips

• Automatic save: Set your writing tools, like Microsoft Word, to automatically save your work every five minutes.

• Use a cloud: If you’re data isn’t sensitive, or if you have a secure server, try using a cloud backup for your information.

• Two words: Hard. Drive. Always save important documents some- where other than your computer.

• Old-fashioned scanning: Scan really important documents into a hard copy. If you do lose data because of a technology fail, there are businesses that can help you extract information from devices, such as external hard drives.

Internet connectivity in urban HRM

Internet access is an on-going issue in Nova Scotia. Rural Nova Scotians have been having trouble connecting for years and while the province has allocated money towards the cause, many people would be surprised to know that it’s not just a rural issue. There are businesses in urban HRM, including the Halifax Chamber of Commerce, that have faced difficulties acquiring internet access. There is a real cost to businesses if internet access is not available and may even affect a business owner’s decision to locate into a certain area.

If you are a business within the HRM having trouble acquiring internet, contact Kathleen at the Chamber as the Create a Positive Business Environment Task Force is looking into this issue (kathleen@halifaxchamber.com).

In the end, while power outages and lost internet can have a major impact on businesses, having a game plan for when it does happen can save your business in the long run. Use the internet, find the best way to back up your data, or find a cozy coffee shop. Don’t panic, there was a time when no one had internet and business still continued.

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