WITH climate experts from around the country gathering last month to debate the UK’s recent extreme weather, one Sunderland software company is taking action to ensure that for their customers ‘business as usual’ is guaranteed throughout our turbulent seasons.
Affinity Systems, based in the Stanfield Business Centre in Hendon, has become the first IT supplier in the region to be awarded a qualification in business resilience after completing a course developed by ClimateNE in partnership with a range of organisations and SFEDI Awards.
The Get Resilient course is designed to help businesses identify risks, create continuity plans and implement strategies to safeguard their business from emergencies such as fire, flooding or IT failure.
The company, which specialises in wireless networks, telephone technology and remote call management systems, is now implementing resilience practices across their service packages to ensure their clients are armed with the technology and plans they need to survive when disaster strikes.
Business Development Manager Tal Widdrington said: “When you think of events that could severely disrupt a business you imagine natural disasters such as earthquakes, terrorist attacks or a major cyber-attack. However, as we have recently seen, seemingly innocuous events such as heavy rain or snow can have a disastrous impact on businesses.
“Last June businesses in Newcastle were left counting the cost when a fortnight’s worth of rain fell in just one hour causing widespread flooding and if the recent trend of severe winters and heavy summer rains continue, the impact in terms of lost orders, delays and staff absences will be catastrophic for businesses already struggling to survive in tough economic conditions.
“Maintaining operations and service during unexpected emergencies is vital to a business’s survival and we want to ensure that our clients are not only supplied with the high quality systems they need to run operations but also have the plans in place to prepare and combat extreme weather, fires, network failures and other interruptions.”
The Federation of Small Businesses estimates the cost of severe weather to the UK economy could be as much as £600m a day, with one in five workers failing to report for work during heavy snow and flooding, while recent research by AXA Insurance suggests that eighty per cent of small businesses affected by major incidents close within 18 months.
Advances in technology such as cloud computing increasingly allow workers to carry out day to day tasks remotely but Tal hopes that with bouts of severe weather becoming regular occurrences, more businesses will invest in bespoke or specialist technology designed to help them combat all eventualities.
Tal said: “All of our systems are designed to work remotely from any location, meaning the business can function as normal even in exceptional circumstances.
“Our automated telephone systems for doctor’s surgeries, schools and businesses are set-up to ensure that calls can be taken and received, queries and orders logged and professional service easily maintained away from the normal location by the simple flick of a switch. We build in continuity planning into all of our packages, ensuring none of our clients will ever have to suffer losses due to conditions beyond their control.
“Implementing systems such as wireless networking and remote telephone systems can also deliver additional benefits such as increased customer satisfaction, flexible working opportunities and increased staff retention levels.”
Adrian Hilton from ClimateNE said: ““Today’s business environment is characterised by rapid, unpredictable change. But no matter what, firms must be responsive and resilient in order to secure long-term survival, profitability and growth.
“We have developed this qualification to help firms identify both risks and opportunities to protect their bottom line, differentiate them from the competition, increase competitiveness, and ensure that they can continue to operate as usual in the face of potential disruption. We are delighted that Affinity Systems have undertaken this training successfully.”