Volcanic Ash and Business Disruption

By Dave Sobel  |  Print this article Print

I never thought I'd make the statement: "Volcanic ash has affected my business." But it has.

Volcanic ash. I never thought that I’d make this statement, but "Volcanic ash has affected my business".

With my involvement with Heartland Technology Groups (HTG), I am coordinating the meeting agenda for HTG11, made up of solution providers from the United Kingdom and Ireland. And with their flights starting on Saturday to the United States, we’re uncertain how travel will work. As I write this, testing is still underway.

Backup plans are already in motion, so we have options when we are ready to make a final decision. But ultimately, I’m doing a lot of tracking of volcanic ash.

The world is a whole lot smaller than it used to be, and we generally assume this is the way it always is. It’s not difficult to have a video conference with someone anywhere on the planet, communicate electronically in near real time, get news from anywhere in an incredibly timely fashion.

Disruptions, however, are even more devastating. Besides the trials of just moving people around for business – and I have a friend who took three extra days to get out of Europe to get home to Washington on Sunday – there are other implications of our ever growing dependence on moving things from one place to another. Pharmaceuticals are shipped around the planet to save lives. Mail travels to keep business flowing. Food comes from all over the planet. The list keeps going.

From an IT perspective, parts are produced all over the planet. Software in different locations. Our ability to trade and interact is incredibly interrelated.

It’s the disruptions that make you think about it more. For many in the United States, the impact isn’t something we think about on a regular basis. But we should. Our business, even in the small and midsized business, is incredibly tied to those around us, and the economy of the world is very tightly knit.

At the risk of sounding political – which isn’t my intention – it’s important to have a world view when we make our business decisions. What happens elsewhere in the world affects us all, and what we do affects others in the world. It’s important to look beyond and understand.

I’d challenge everyone to try getting their news from another source once in a while. A CNN junkie? Try the BBC. Watch Fox? Try The Australian. Reading this internationally? Try The Washington Post. (It’s my hometown paper, and pretty good.)


Because besides learning about other opinions, which is not a bad thing, it’s important to see the world beyond our own local businesses. Often as small business consultants, we focus just on a small area of our own world, and assume we’re not affected by other regions. It’s simply not true, and it’s short sighted to not try and understand more.

Reach out and touch someone, as the old slogan went. You can learn a lot, and use that to make more intelligent decisions about your own direction. Information is power, and more than ever, we have the ability to gain that power from the entire planet. It would be short sighted not to take advantage of that.

Dave Sobel is the founder and CEO of Evolve Technologies (www.evolvetech.com), a consulting firm that provides information technology and computer networking services to small businesses in Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia.Evolve Technologies provides a wide array of services including server installation, virus protection, network security, backup services and complete information technology outsourcing. The first Microsoft Small Business Specialist located in the Washington, D.C. area, Evolve Technologies is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner. Prior to founding Evolve Technologies, Sobel worked as a Web architect for a consulting company. He also has experience doing security, network and infrastructure design for Fortune 1000 companies. Sobel holds a bachelor's degree in Computer Science from the College of William and Mary. He can be reached at dave@evolvetech.com.