As fears go, loss of Internet access is climbing the ladder, and will soon join spiders, tornadoes, public speaking and cancer at the top of the national list. With all the threats presented by the modern world both international and domestic, the loss of the currently ubiquitous Internet is a very real possibility. Cyber Security has gone in just 15 years from a futurist topic on the seminar schedule at small, obscure IT conferences, to a huge industry and a Federal government priority,in an effort to preserve the integrity and functionality of this newly precious resource. Could your business survive the Internet-less apocalypse?
So many businesses depend so heavily on the Internet for their marketing, either through organic search and SEO of their site, e-mail marketing and customer service, banner advertising, Adwords programs, re-marketing programs, to order-taking and fulfillment operations, that they could not function with no internet capability – web-only based businesses are out of luck from day one! Brick-and-mortar businesses have an advantage here, in that they may still have foot traffic, use traditional media like TV and radio ads, billboards, building signs, direct mail and print ads, to drive shoppers to the store – they would have to use cash to purchase anything if the Internet were “down” or didn’t exist, but they could function moderately well in the local geographic area. What would be most missed is the additional global outlet and customer base that the ‘net allows for.
Professional services businesses would also function in a remedial way – law firms, accounting firms, consultants, and engineering firms still do much of their marketing and lead generation through traditional means – but would be hampered in providing some of those services in as quick or timely fashion as we’ve become used to – “e-mail me that spreadsheet,” and “give me everything Lexus-Nexus has on . . .” would be things of the past, but those laws are still “on the books” and in the books at most firms, and the search, while laborious and time consuming, could still be performed manually, and those ledgers still record debits and credits just fine, no batteries required.
The US Postal Service would likely see a huge uptick in business, as e-mail ceases and businesses have to return to writing memos and mailing them, either internally or externally to clients, customers and far flung colleagues. It might make some of those long-winded and knee-jerk missives that show up in your inbox on a daily basis a bit more scarce as well, as business people are forced to craft more thoughtful communication to commit to paper and mail. It would certainly allow for more time to proofread and edit, something most e-mail desperately needs, so not all of this non-Internet fantasy is bad . . .
Certainly the lack of social media communications platforms would free up more time to be productive, although those businesses that exist or thrive using social media marketing as a reason to live would disappear, they would likely be supplanted by higher attendance at conferences, tradeshows, meetings, seminars, more client contact, which would help out the hotels, airlines, conference venues, as face to face returns to fill the vacuum. Talented writers would have to work for a publication, magazine, newspaper, ad agency, or radio or TV outlet, as blogs would be impossible. Maybe they’d remember how to grow and hold a following, build an audience, and even get paid to write . . .! Editors would suddenly be back in fashion, curating the news and crafting public perception of current events, rather then the gang input, do it yourself, Wikipedia approach to learning about the world around us.
Take five minutes, and mentally catalog all the things in your business, either marketing or operations, that depend upon the Internet to exist or function. Were a global calamity to occur, could you continue to function as a business without it? Is there a written (and printed out) plan for this eventuality? Keep in mind that we’re not talking about the stone age, electricity still works, computers still function as free standing machines, connect to printers and other computers over local network wires, the phones still work (unless you have VOIP service only), its the global connected-ness, the openness, the instantaneous access to global information that’s gone. If nefarious evil-doers were to knock out large sections of the global ‘net, would your business survive? If your fleet of trucks uses credit cards at the gas pump, your transactions are credit card only (the return of the chick-chuck slider machines would be rapid and expensive), your equipment needs GPS reports to function, your outreach is web-only, your pipeline driven solely by Google Adwords, you might be out of luck quicker than you think . . .
Should we continue to base our businesses heavily around the Internet’s availability and ubiquity? Probably. Should it be our only way to continue to further drive commerce? Likely not, as you just never know . . .