When Snowmageddon hit the Northeast this January, it put a crimp on a lot of organizations’ abilities to continue with business as usual. After all, the always-on business starts with uninhibited access to critical communication tools and unless your business communications are really 100 percent in the cloud, you will have trouble accessing what you need in situations like this.
As snow rapidly piled up at rates well beyond what plows could handle, major roadways like the Massachusetts Turnpike closed and office environments were forced into temporary closure situations. According to some reports the snow-forced shutdown of federal offices in Washington DC alone cost an estimated $450 million in lost productivity. Of course, some think this is where disaster recovery plans can prove quite useful in helping organizations get back on track, rescheduling meetings and finding ways to keep the wheel of progress moving. I don’t necessarily agree.
I do not suggest organizations abandon developing, deploying and maintaining solid recovery strategies. After all, they have a real purpose when catastrophe strikes and an office building is reduced to rubble. However, considering the state of today’s technology, there is a better route – avoidance. There is no reason why business people shouldn’t be able to fully leverage UC system features and capabilities regardless of local circumstances. Simply put, having disaster avoidance capabilities empowers an organization with the flexibility to fully eliminate downtime altogether. This is true whether it’s a snowstorm or a sick child that is keeping team members from finding their way into the office.
The only way this can truly work in a seamless manner is if the organization’s UC system resides entirely in a cloud environment -- where local disasters cannot physically impact the system’s ability to operate effectively. Conversely, traditional and standards-based SIP solutions hold organizations back from truly leveraging UC’s potential because those systems are not 100 percent in the cloud. They rely on settings and programming in the phone for certain functions/features (such as emergency call forwarding). This means that if your office is forced to close unexpectedly, forwarding calls or working from home could prove difficult as you may need go through complex set up procedures and reset physical devices and as a result, you could be unreachable to your customers for some period of time, causing your business to lose money and prospects in the process. Some providers even recommend taking your phone home with you if you think there could be a disaster.
The completely cloud-based approach to UC that Broadview Networks employs takes great strides in helping organizations accomplish full disaster avoidance easily through single click emergency re-routing features, the use of softphones, call twinning or mirroring capabilities and anytime anywhere access. They recently took it a step further with a new portal that centralizes everything in one widget-based website which anyone can manage, so it’s not just easy for IT professionals anymore. Most impressively, all of the features can be easily set or changed with a few clicks by any employee without a visit from the IT person or even a device reboot. What makes this exciting from my perspective is that an individual does not need to wait on an administrator to take action if an occurrence only impacts a few individuals within the business environment – say if the office is open, but one person has to stay home with a sick child. That person can just log into the website and forward calls, turn on cell phone twinning, or whatever they need to do. And the website works on cell phones, tablets, etc. – anywhere with an internet connection – so you don’t even need to be at a computer.
Rather than taking the reactive and often costly recovery path, investing today in avoidance will ensure that your team remains productive while your competitors are stuck in the snow. And isn’t that what we all really expect?