Beware and Prepare: Winter Business Threats

Ensure that your company’s telephony and IT systems survive storms and other seasonal disasters with the latest IP-based technology.

In terms of maintaining productivity, winter is a particularly challenging season.

Bad weather can test a company’s infrastructure to breaking point, often wreaking havoc on corporate communications.

From damaged lines to power cuts, legacy phone systems can be worryingly vulnerable to adverse events.

That’s before considering the impact of heavy snow or storms on employee attendance. Did you know that the UK typically experiences 33 snow days each year. For many businesses last year’s flooding has also given us all a reality check on our vulnerability.

Many businesses will be tempted to stay with their existing telecoms provider for convenience, but may not realise that they are missing out on improved cost­efficiency and productivity gains by switching to a new provider.

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Fail to prepare – prepare to fail

Maintaining normal channels of communication between staff and their customers is absolutely essential particularly during adverse weather. As we all know productivity and client relations can suffer greatly from any downtime or disruption.

One week of bad weather in early 2013 was estimated to have cost the UK over £318 million (and 51 million working hours) in lost productivity, because business continuity plans hadn’t been put in place.

When it comes to potential threats and disruptions, for many companies the fear of losing their IT or telecommunications is the biggest concern.

Remote control

It’s critical to have a robust phone system in place. Cloud-based inbound call management systems enable businesses to maintain full productivity even if the weather outside is frightful.

Rather than relying on fixed phone lines such as ISDN, which can be damaged or disconnected by storms, a hosted phone system moves fixed and mobile telephony to the cloud where it can be accessed and managed from anywhere.

Inbound call management systems can keep your company operating at full efficiency, while unprepared competitors flounder in snowdrifts.

The advantages of inbound call management systems are numerous:

1. They’re cloud-based and therefore unaffected by weather conditions

2. Employees can access their phone services from anywhere, on any device

3. They offer complete flexibility

4. Even the most technophobic employee can easily navigate a dedicated web portal

No place like home

When adverse weather strikes, enabling your staff work from home can bring many advantages. With the right infrastructure, your staff can be just as productive as they would be if they were in the office and, more importantly, customers won’t notice any difference as:

1. Their work phone number will appear the same, whether they’re calling from their office in Glasgow or their home in Edinburgh

2. Even from home, staff are able to easily transfer and direct calls to different departments, as if they were in the office

3. Administrators can configure and manage the system in real-time from wherever they happen to be working – often through an easy to use app

Fighting back

One sure-fire way to not be beaten by adverse weather or other unforeseen circumstances is to appoint a provider that specialises in offering unified communications.

In the event of a disaster or unforeseen event an effective way to maintain business continuity is to implement an inbound call management system that can be used to instantly redirect calls to another site.

The best communications providers will deliver flexible and responsive personal service around the clock, but the most effective solutions are the ones that you can control yourself.

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20 November 2014 | Cem Ahmet

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The views in this article are the personal views of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by Gamma.