Reducing the risk of telephony downtime

According to a 2014 Ofcom survey, 69% of organisations say that the telephone is their most vital communication source. It is a statistic that perhaps runs counter to the modern narrative around the importance of social media, email and video conferencing to business.

But it is nonetheless true. And it explains why having adequate provision for when the lines go down is one of the most important steps a business can take to protect its bottom line.

One week of bad weather in early 2013 was estimated to have cost the UK over £318 million in lost productivity. While the complete communications outage is perhaps the worst scenario to consider, it is also the least likely to happen. Instead disruption is more likely to affect pockets of staff. For example, those stuck on a motorway in the event of a major hold up. Or a bank of desk workers sidelined by a localised power issue.

In any eventuality the most important thing is knowing that your business has the capability to get staff up and working again.

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Putting tech first

If you do not have the correct technology infrastructure in place, then telephony downtime will harm your business. Regardless of the provider you choose to work with.

Traditional in-house infrastructure and fixed line telecommunications solutions are outdated. Not only because they don’t support agile working. But because of the time it takes to get staff back online if old systems go down.

If, for example, water damaged the ISDN line of a branch office, or a couple of floors at HQ suffered a power cut, it would take anywhere between 24 and 48 hours to get the staff affected back online. Even in the best version of events a costly site assurance plan might have staff back making calls within a few hours. But to only one number.

Compare that with a modern telecommunications solution like SIP trunking, or fully hosted. Both include in-built, immediate call redirection. So in the event that any particular user’s main line is unavailable, the call would go straight to a specified mobile or alternative device. And it is automatic, meaning that you as the customer would not even have to request that your provider puts call redirection into action. The system is active all of the time, so whenever a call can’t go to destination A, it immediately tries destination B.

The result is almost no missed calls – and for those that are missed, your service provider will be able to give you full details about who was trying to get through. SIP and hosted will also apply to all lines at all times. So your business is covered in the event of a total power outage, or a broken line at a single desk.

End to end

Though the main consideration when thinking about business continuity should be the technology you are using, it is also worth thinking about the supplier who is providing it. While no one can guarantee no disruption whatsoever, the right one will make any downtime as manageable as possible.

By choosing to work with a supplier that offers an end to end service (whereby they provide voice services over an internet service that they own) you will be ensuring that you get the best experience, both in the good times and the bad. End to end providers own both the infrastructure and the data that they are working with and providing you. There is no third party involved. And because there is no third party if you need lines restored or a connection fixed, there is no one else to speak to.

The idea of the phones not working fills every business with dread. But with the right provider and the right technology, any business can reduce the risks that come with unplanned downtime.

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26 August 2015 | 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.