How quickly a business is able to respond in the face of a disruption could make or break it. In a difficult economic landscape, it’s critical to use systems that ensure that the show goes on, even when the lights don’t.

By Nic Laschinger, chief technology officer of Euphoria Telecom

A survey found that South African businesses listed infrastructure blackouts (like power disruptions and public transport failures), as the primary risk in 2024. Also on the list were the energy crisis, natural catastrophes, and cyber incidents such cyberattacks and IT network and service disruptions.

All of these can have a severe impact on operations and the bottom line. Technology solutions such as cloud-based infrastructure can help mitigate the risk and ensure business continuity during unplanned events.

Load shedding

With almost 7 000 hours of load shedding in 2023, power outages are no longer an unforeseen event in South Africa.

South Africans have invested heavily in back-up power systems as a result, with rooftop solar installations now providing more power than some of Eskom’s biggest power stations.

Whether you run a smaller business that might not be able to afford the investment into large-scale back-up power systems, or a major call centre that needs to stay online, every lost moment of productivity is crucial.

There are a number of options to build resilience, ranging from affordable, back-up power supplies for wifi routers through to rented solar systems.

Beyond back-up power, businesses can consider cloud telephony systems that provide some sense of certainty when it comes to communication at least. Cloud-based systems are not reliant on physical infrastructure in a set location. They are available anywhere the internet can reach. So even when there is no power at the office, for example, calls can be diverted to mobile phones or IP handsets.

Add a cloud-based productivity suite that allows people to work from anywhere, access shared information and collaborate and most of your team can work from home and keep the business running.

Weather events

As climate change results in evermore catastrophic weather events, businesses need to, quite literally, weather any storm.

Cloud-based technology will play an increasingly important role in ensuring business continuity during climate events. Cloud data centres store information in multiple geographic locations, ensuring that even in the face of a local disaster like a flood or a fire, your data is safe and available, reducing downtime.

At a local level, cloud technology enables people to work from home, while avoiding dangerous conditions or looking after children when schools are closed during events like the recent Western Cape storms.

Cyber attacks

The Covid-19 pandemic may feel like a once in a lifetime event that prepared us for just about anything, but most catastrophic events are impossible to predict.

Cyber attacks can be devastating for a business, and with the number of incidents more than doubling since the pandemic, they are an increasingly real threat. Ensuring that your business has cyber security measures and protocols in place is essential.

Simple systems like password managers and two-factor authentication are affordable and should be built into the security of businesses of all sizes.

Bear in mind that your telephone system could be a weak spot. Modern voice over IP (VoIP) systems use the same networks as computers do, making them as vulnerable to attack as your IT systems.

At a base level, businesses should be making use of IPSec to secure data traffic across networks and secure authentication. Those using cloud telephony systems should also ask service providers about security features to reduce risks.

Running a business, no matter the size or the sector it operates in, will never be without risk. But having tools in place that not only help you enhance your productivity now, but will also contribute to your resilience in the future, can help to lessen the potential impact when something goes wrong.