Business Continuity Strategies: What Are They and Why They Are Important to Your Customers

Business continuity strategy means having a resilient, redundant remote working environment accessible in the cloud that encompasses all necessary business systems. This would include communications like voice and contact center, CRMs, data center infrastructure, backup strategy and disaster recovery.

Customers are currently looking for ways to rapidly move to the cloud, shielding themselves from future disasters and business disruptors. Along with natural disasters, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, floods or fire, man-made disasters like fires or structural damages, utility failures and outages, or physical and cyber attacks, customers are now aware and concerned with pandemics.  Businesses have quickly discovered the only way to truly protect themselves is to have a plan, a business continuity strategy that will allow for business and communications to be uninterrupted and available anytime, anywhere.

What used to be a “nice to have” is now an urgent requirement and CIOs and IT leaders everywhere are demanding it.  Even businesses planning to send their employees back to the office when COVID-19 subsides will have a remote business continuity strategy. Why? Because of REAL concerns – What if this happens again? What if there is a second wave of COVID-19 or another pandemic that requires the world to stay home again? Can the business afford NOT to have a remote business strategy?

Communication is at the heart of all business activity. Companies need their voice channels to reach their customers and their contact centers for their customers to them. During this pandemic, we have seen first-hand how businesses struggle with on-premise infrastructure. Not having a business continuity strategy for voice or contact center can have a serious ripple effect.

The TBI Tech Gurus team has been helping partners and their customers throughout this time, witnessing many “band-aid” solutions, commonly involving trying to run their voice and existing contact center services over VPN with less than adequate internet connections. Many companies shipped out thousands of PCs and focused on servicing their customers solely through voice communications. The outcome was a lack of productivity and loss of revenue.

Lack of productivity resulted from slow or dropped connections and in-accurate tracking and reporting, from disparate systems, or in some cases no reporting at all. Loss of revenue resulted from lost customers, caused by longer than normal hold times and customers have no option to connect with businesses only available through voice. If these businesses had a business continuity strategy, the move to the remote workforce would have been seamless and uninterrupted.

For infrastructure, business continuity strategy is imperative for a business to continue functioning normally after an incident or event.  The first thing businesses need to do is to assess how long infrastructure can be offline before it impacts their ability to operate and serve customers.  Business impact can be to the company’s business operations (back office activities for payroll, marketing, order entry, inventory), order/sales processing, or to the customer facing WEB presence.

Business Continuity

In the past, infrastructure typically existed at the business HQ or one of its data centers.  With the recent pandemic, we have seen businesses rethinking where their infrastructure should exist.  The accessibility of physical systems has become a topic of discussion for data center managers in the event equipment fails or needs updating. We’ve learned all businesses are not considered essential and can be shutdown, unable to receive shipments (ex: hard drives, power supplies or new equipment needed). As many move business infrastructure to colocation facilities and cloud offerings, future plans to take advantage of cloud resources have been sped up, with many looking to implement now.

So the question is “What types of companies are ideal move to the cloud?”

Actually, every company. As we saw with the outbreak of Covid-19, no company is immune. Businesses with an on-prem phone system. Businesses needing multiple channels of collaboration. Businesses with cloud, colocation or disaster recovery needs. All are ideal candidates for digital transformation.

 Where do you start?

In every technology evaluation, it starts by taking inventory – what technologies does the business have now, what are they in the process of bringing on or recognize a need for in the future, what areas of the business are they focused on improving and lastly, what technologies are outdated or unnecessary.

It may make the most sense to begin by migrating mission-critical elements of the current system in order to deploy new services, such as omnichannel, increase flexibility and scalability, and gain the greatest cost benefit. Taking advantage of cloud resources (public and private) for compute and DR has become a natural extension of the physical data center that allows for rapid expansion to accommodate growing or seasonal business.

Once you know which components to migrate, determine what data should be migrated. Moving and storing data costs money, so identify which data is essential. Old data or historical data that is rarely used can remain on-premises or archived. An example of a good place to begin with a migration strategy would be taking an inventory of the current phone system.

Here are some questions to evaluate customer needs along with responses to help lead conversations - 
Can you cut down on business travel by utilizing web-collaboration tools such as Zoom, Web-ex Meetings or Microsoft Teams? 

Eliminate travel expenses and improve efficiency by being able to attend more meetings, have more connections and increase customer touchpoints. By utilizing web-collaboration tools, your customers can have anytime, anywhere always-on communication tools to share files, collaborate on projects, increase productivity by reducing communication silos. Multi-video communications can be used to keep the personal touch of customer interactions. Most importantly by utilizing a cloud-based collaboration platform, your communications will not be interrupted during any foreseeable natural disasters or pandemics.

How many hard phones do you need and can you using softphones for remote users instead?

Not only reducing costs by eliminating equipment and reducing implementation time, softphones bring the flexibility of communications on any platform – PC, Tablet, mobile phone. They allow your customers to use a single phone number and keep business continuity intact anywhere in the world.

Are you concerned with improving your customer experience and ways to cut down on call times or long holds?

Implement solutions with advanced speech IVR, omni-channel solutions or virtual agents. Advanced speech IVRs decrease average handling time reducing abandoned or unanswered calls, while omni-channel solutions allow multiple ways for your customers to reach your business. Virtual agents can be implemented for routine tasks such as password resets and informational queries, significantly improving the customer experience, increasing productivity, and increasing overall revenue for your business.

Do you have DaaS tools for your new workforce?

DaaS tools can help your organization eliminate the need for costly hardware and setup by creating images that can be deployed one or many times rapidly.  DaaS tools also help with workforce expansions and reductions as you will only have to manage the online resources and not have to worry about laptops with sensitive company information.  The last but not least thing to consider for DaaS is the security of your data and the fact that you will know who has access and who needs to have access removed by simply managing the DaaS images, when an employee is no longer required the image is removed.

Do you have BaaS tools?

BaaS tools make keeping copies of your data simple and secure.  You will no longer have to worry about the security of data as encryption is part of the BaaS tools which safeguard your data offsite.

Do you have DraaS solutions in place?

DRaaS tools are plentiful and available for all platforms which make having a disaster recovery plan a necessity and not a nice to have. Keeping business safe should a disaster occur is needed so workforces can be moved around and have no effect on the performance of the company.

When was security last evaluated on all business systems in use?

Penetration testing should be done on a regular basis to ensure your cybersecurity tools and processes are up to date and protecting your business assets.  Tools need to be evaluated and installed on a regular basis and doing application and infrastructure assessments will show the areas to focus on.

 

Real-Life Examples of Business Continuity in Action:

Campaign marketing firm had an on-premise outbound dialer, on-premise phone system and on-premise contact center. During COVID-19, thefirm could not access their voice components and employees were reduced to using their cell phones to conduct business. The firm’s revenues, productivity and end customer experience rapidly declined as all their data and voice functionality remained “on-premises”. The firm quickly realized the benefits of having an always-on, always available unified communications solution and quickly developed a plan to move all voice, contact center, dialer and reporting services to the cloud.

NYC professional office has decided to close and needed to move infrastructure to COLO as well as move employees to home office permanently.  They can now take advantage of desktop as a service (DaaS) for new employees, which will reduce the costs of buying expensive equipment.  They will also be adding DRaaS to their portfolio for quick and easy recovery in the event of a disaster.

Aerospace company with multiple locations utilizing HyperV at their HQ location to serve their business needs was looking to create a DRaaS solution. Tech Gurus team created a solution to utilize Microsoft Azure as a target which will greatly protect their business and improve recovery time.  

These are just some examples, but many of your customers need help with business continuity strategy. 

Engage TBI Tech Gurus at anytime and have a team of solution engineers and subject matter experts assist in everything from discovery and design recommendations to strategic planning and sales support. With no less than 25 years and proficient in multiple offerings like UCaaS/CCaaS, colo, DRaaS, network and security, utilizing the Tech Gurus has proven to be a real “game changer” for partners, bringing huge advantages, opening doors to new opportunities.

Don't miss Talk Tech with TBI, a free webinar on Thursday, July 16th, to hear Tech Gurus and industry experts discuss the impact of Covid-19, the future of technology and key solutions driving business right now, including UCaaS, CCaaS, SD-WAN and DR. There will also be a Q&A portion to ask the experts questions about the current landscape and anything you're experiencing in the field.  Register now. 

ABOUT THE AUTHORS
John Romeo brings 25 years of experience and has worked with fortune 100 companies to provide Unified Communications and Contact Center solutions that allow them to establish business continuity and improve business processes. He’s an accomplished Solution Architect, US Patent holder and his experience involves many years of Product Management, technical sales and design.  You can reach John at jromeo@tbicom.com or connect with him on LinkedIn.

This piece was co-written with James Demetrius, Cloud Infrastructure Architect on the Tech Gurus team. Click here to see additional blog articles that Jim has written. With 30 years of experience working with Fortune 100 companies, Jim is an accomplished Solution Architect competent in all aspects of the IT lifecycle, specializing in complex managed hosting, cloud, colocation and hybrid computing.You can reach Jim atjdemetrius@tbicom.comor connect with him on LinkedIn