Last month, I took a vacation to Myrtle Beach. Now, I’m a guy who insists on staying connected via iPhone, laptop, etc. But, part of me wanted to forget about the procurement world for a while and just enjoy a little “R&R” before returning to the office to continue work on some major projects.
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Well, I can’t escape reminders of the procurement world no matter how hard I try. And this little five-day vacation was no exception. Specifically, the events that triggered my procurement brain to turn on were related to my recent rants about the supply threat of Internet over-reliance.
First, my iPhone rendered itself useless. I got the “white screen of death” and none of the online remedies solved the problem. It was toast. So, I was less available for work-related stuff.
Second, my family had one of our activities interrupted by a technology meltdown. Let me go into a little more detail on this.
It was a rainy evening, so we weren’t able to spend our time at the beach as we did in prior evenings. So, we decided to check out this place called MagiQuest.
MagiQuest describes itself as “an interactive live-action, role playing game where players embark on quests and adventures in an enchanted fantasy world using real magic wands to solve the mysteries of the game.” Basically, it’s like a technology-dependent scavenger hunt where you are given a wireless magic wand that is assigned to a MagiQuest account. When you point this magic wand at certain objects you are tasked to find, your account is updated and you are closer to accomplishing the objective of the game. I gotta say, it was a quite a cool experience for my kids.
And quite technology-dependent. In fact, as we were waiting to pay for our experience, I noticed an employee walk into a back room where the servers resided and couldn’t help but blurt out “wow, what a rack!” in a non-Howard Stern sort of way as I marveled at the rack of computer hardware that was powering this place. So much of this business was driven by computers.
This dependence – and the fragility of technology – became quite apparent about 8PM that night, halfway into our visit. The thunderstorm outside knocked out the power to the building, including the lights.
It was only a couple of minutes before the lights and computer screens were back on. But not everything was working right. Player status couldn’t be checked. Scavenger hunts couldn’t be completed. Within about 15 minutes, MagiQuest employees rounded up all of the customers and notified us that things weren’t working right and they needed to close two hours early to get everything back up and running.
Wow. A little common thunderstorm shut the business down for two hours?
At that point, all my previously expressed concerns about the vulnerability of Internet-dependent supply chains came rushing into my brain. If a small storm could shut down a business for two hours, what could a well-coordinated cyber attack or presidential shutdown of the Internet do to more major suppliers?
With the growth of the Internet into so many aspects of business relationships, we all need to step back and ask our key suppliers: “How would you conduct business if the Internet suddenly was not available for an extended period of time?” Though it sounds like a crazy, unlikely risk, based on my research, I think that Internet business activities are much more vulnerable than the average person thinks.
Here at Next Level Purchasing, we have contingency plans for our business, one of which addresses there not being any Internet availability for a long period of time. But how many of your key suppliers have a plan like this?
If you’ve answered “none,” it may be time to get them to start thinking about it. Cyber supply risk is everywhere.