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It’s Not Too Late to Implement a Business Continuity Strategy

If the first half of 2020 taught business owners anything, it’s the importance of having a business continuity strategy.

Without the ability to quickly spin up a resilient, redundant remote working environment accessible in the cloud to encompass all of your necessary business systems, you likely would have experienced significant business interruption.

Having a business continuity strategy means that you have plans for things like communications, including voice and contact center, CRMs, data center infrastructure, backup strategy, and disaster recovery.

If you are like many business owners, you also understand the value of being in the Cloud, with benefits that include scalability, cost efficiencies, and freedom from capital expenses. But the Cloud also offers you a shield against future disasters and business disruptors. Though the pandemic is only the latest consideration, a Cloud business continuity strategy can protect you from 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.

So how do you advance the idea of a business continuity strategy from a “nice to have,” to requirement? Read on, and we’ll share the tips of the trade.

After COVID-19: What Next?

Though it may seem backwards, the restoration of normal operations as COVID-19 subsides is actually a strong argument FOR 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 my business afford NOT to have a remote business strategy?

Communication is at the heart of all business activity. You need your voice channels to reach your customers and contact centers. 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.

Through our work with customers and partners, we have encountered many “band-aid” solutions, commonly involving businesses trying to run their voice and existing contact center services over VPN with less than adequate internet connections. Also, 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 — resulting from slow or dropped connections and disparate systems, which led to longer than normal hold times. If these businesses had a business continuity strategy, the move to the remote workforce would have been seamless and uninterrupted.

Shoring Up Your Infrastructure

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

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. And, as we’ve learned, not all businesses are 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.

What types of companies are ideal for moving 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 your business have now? What are you in the process of bringing on or perhaps will have a need for in the future? What areas of the business are you 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 ask internally to evaluate your needs:

  1. 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, you can access 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 help you deliver a personal touch in customer interactions. Most importantly, by utilizing a cloud-based collaboration platform, your communications will not be interrupted during any foreseeable natural disasters or pandemics.
  2. How many hard phones do you need and can you use 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. That means you can use a single phone number and keep business continuity intact anywhere in the world.
  3. 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.
  4. Do you have Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) tools for your new workforce?
    Desktop-as-a-Service (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.
  5. Do you have Backup-as-a-Service (BaaS) tools?
    Backup-as-a-Service (BaaS) tools make keeping copies of your data simple and secure.  You will no longer have to worry about the security of your data, as encryption is part of the BaaS tools which safeguard your data offsite.
  6. Do you have Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service (DraaS) solutions in place?
    Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service (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 your business safe should a disaster occur is needed so workforces can be moved around and have no effect on the performance of the company.
  7. 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.


Managed IT Services From Consolidated Technologies, Inc.

Why choose a managed services provider? Managed services is one of the best approaches for most businesses to improve their operations. It can boost efficiency, lower operating costs and provide many other benefits to companies of all types and sizes. With the help of skilled experts and high-end resources, managed services can bring new insights and proactive care to your IT setup.

When it comes to choosing a managed services provider, Consolidated Technologies, Inc. is your go-to choice. We are your one-stop-shop for innovation and reliability. Our managed IT services include wide-reaching tasks, like 24/7 monitoring of your whole IT environment, installing patches and updates, managing mobile device usage, and assessing networks. Plus, this array of services is cost-effective, to help deliver an exceptional return on investment.

Even if you think your business needs are complex and difficult to achieve, we’re up for the challenge. We’ve been tackling unique problems for years and love to get our hands dirty when most other providers would turn you away. Our highly-trained staff helps us achieve this, as they’re always up-to-date on the latest innovations.