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Palmtops Protect Your Business in Emergencies

Palmtops Protect Your Business in Emergencies

By Michael Miora    Miora Systems Consulting, Inc.

On January 17, 1994, Los Angeles suffered a major earthquake. Geologists called it a moderate quake, but to people fearful of losing their businesses it was anything but moderate!

Two days after a disaster like the L.A. quake, your company's data center may be up and running again using information that is only 3 days old. You've got the raw data, but without phone lines, LANs, and other client/server capabilities, your business may be "off line."

Could your sales people call in their sales? Could your customer service people service your customers? Could shipping ship? Could receiving receive? You would be unable to fulfill your business missions with only a data center up and running.

Enter the HP Palmtop, that portable DOS marvel that can store data and take over some emergency communications functions faster than you can turn on your PC. If you've given your people a little data and lots of portable, friendly, and useful Palmtop power, you may be able to stay in business.

Palmtop equipment, together with notebook computers and desktop PCs, can provide an inexpensive way to bridge the gap between the data center computer specialists and the people who keep your business going. Business Resumption Planning using palmtop technology can help you survive. Remember, 43% of companies that experience major disasters go out of business within one year. Understanding and acting on these issues may keep your business from becoming part of that statistic.

Small Computers Empower Modern Business

Information technology enables companies to gain a competitive edge by providing customers with timely, accurate information. One overnight delivery service recently aired a television commercial boasting that the customer could immediately obtain the status of a delivery order -- anytime. That capability exists because the company maintains a database that keeps track of each package or letter. Delivery personnel equipped with handheld computers notify the database through wireless channels as an item passes a checkpoint, or is delivered. All the customer needs to do is access a database to find out where his package or letter is.

Customer service is just one area in which information technology has become important. From order entry to customer support, purchasing through production, and from receiving to shipping, information technology provides companies with new and better ways to operate. From forklifts outfitted with wireless computers to sales people on the road typing into their Palmtops, technology has grown beyond a reporting tool; it is an integral part of corporate operations and plays a key role in achieving and maintaining the competitive advantage.

What Do You Need to Protect in a Disaster?

You need to protect more than your data. You need to protect your ability to conduct business. Over the past two decades we have brought processing power from large main frames, into our work rooms, onto our desktops and into our pockets. Our information has moved with it, from the data center's tape storage room to the desktop disk drive, to the PCMCIA card, and the Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) and messaging systems.

Protecting the data center and the information it contains is still important, but it is no longer enough. It may not even be the place to begin. The data center may require 48 hours or more to become operational at a backup site. A company cannot wait that long to continue operating.

Companies need more than a Disaster Recovery Plan. All companies should have a Business Resumption Plan to ensure that the company:

  1. 1. Protects its assets and resources,
  2. 2. Reduces the risks associated with disasters,
  3. 3. Provides the capability to continue operating during a disaster,
  4. 4. Plans for recovery and a return to normal operations.



A good Business Resumption Plan helps ensure that even if a disaster destroys a major facility, the company will survive.

The HP Palmtop Advantage

The HP Palmtop provides three critical advantages unique to handheld devices. First, complete portability helps ensure that your people will have the equipment and information with them when they need it. The Palmtop has strong database capabilities and can contain the names, emergency contact phone numbers, and other information about key corporate personnel. Your phone book file can be your central repository for emergency numbers. You can keep a regularly updated database of customer contact and order information on your Palmtop. You could even use one of those DOS "stick figure" diagramming programs to draw simple, but functional maps with instructions on where to go, and how to get there in an emergency. Your Palmtop can also store your insurance policy numbers and bank emergency access PIN numbers.

Notebook computers also can be used as business resumption tools, but they are frequently left in the office when the employee goes home. A Palmtop easily fits in a pocket, purse or briefcase, and is seldom left in the office.

Second, wired and wireless communications capabilities of the Palmtops increase the probability that information and messages can flow as needed. Plug your Palmtop into a Wide Area Network (WAN) outlet and exchange regular mail messages with a host of WAN messaging systems. Connect to some cellular systems, and communicate via special messaging systems, CompuServe or Internet, and even to your company's backup LAN gateway.

The phones may be down, but the information can still flow with services like RadioMail. Using a cellular modem, you can broadcast emergency electronic mail and facsimile transmissions to key customers, alternate sites, and to recovery teams. For your customer, everything is all right as long as you can make your schedule. A properly implemented Business Resumption Plan supported by palmtop equipment insures that you can stay in touch with your customer, and stay on schedule.

Third, palmtop equipment can help the individual employee in his personal life. Whether it's balancing a household budget in Lotus, or using wireless communications to contact relatives after an earthquake, the employee learns the benefits of the equipment, and uses it more effectively in business. Encourage your people to use their Palmtop for personal needs and they'll always have it with them for business emergencies.

Your people are motivated to learn and use the capabilities of their Palmtop and have the Palmtop and related equipment with them when they need it. Further, they can carry on vital business communications when the regular channels are disrupted.

The combination of these three factors, along with a well thought out Business Resumption Plan, can make your business more survivable in an emergency.

RadioMail User Scoops News Services: Reports Los Angeles Earthquake

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