The growing use of the Web over the past quarter century has changed the way business is conducted. Just consider the number of emails you deal with and the number and size of files you transfer. You and your employers can now comfortably work from their home or other remote locations.
Through the company Website and social media marketing you have gained easy and inexpensive access to an international clientele. Yet there is also another side of the coin.
The online business world expects virtually instantaneous responses. While in earlier years communication delays were understood you can no longer take this for granted. Along with the opportunities offered by online trading an intensified competition has developed.
The fact is that online connectivity has become essential to the smooth functioning of most business concerns. Just as the majority of people now depend on their cars for travel needs, many companies have become highly reliant on online services. Being offline is more than an inconvenience but a real business disaster.
The costs of being offline today are such that any firm should want to take every step to avoid this happening. Hardware failures and communication disruptions also have this nasty habit of occurring at the most awkward moments.
A valued customer is waiting to receive a business proposal, you are in the midst of an important video conference, or you need to send some files to your representatives and all of a sudden the connection is lost.
At the very least the customer is likely to be annoyed and your employees frustrated, but the business consequences could be much more serious. While you cannot control when equipment failure occurs or when a hurricane, earthquake or some other major disaster strikes, you can take precautions to protect your business interests. It is essential to have a viable disaster recovery plan (DRP) that guards against data loss and communications disruptions.
The Four Key DRP Ingredients
While an effective DRP must follow a multi-faceted approach to cover as many vulnerable points as possible, the following four elements are quite basic.
1. Preserve Essential Data
The code files for the product you sell, business correspondence, marketing information and a host of other commercial data needs to be carefully guarded and kept accessible. The old proverb about “not keeping all your eggs in one basket” definitely applies in this case. Dependable alternative data storage and backup arrangements need to be put in place.
2. Maintain Telecommunications
Telephone, data and video transfer services must remain readily available when required. If you rely on telecommunications services supplied through a traditional PBX you are exposed to disruptions caused by their equipment failures, trade disputes and many other reasons. It makes sound sense to look into other communications options to help you stay in contact with employees and customers in such circumstances.
3. High Security
In addition to safeguarding the firm’s business interest from communications failures caused by weather or equipment faults, it is vital to institute protection against malicious damage. A high level of security has to be instituted in order to guard information and communications systems against viruses, cyber attacks and data theft. At the lowest level these attacks are a nuisance but not infrequently they can cause major data loss, communication disruptions and other serious damage.
4. First-rate Troubleshooting
Your expertise lies in manufacturing or selling products and services rather than in troubleshooting. While very large companies often have their own IT staff, many small and medium-size firms are not in this position. Finding an IT support deal that quickly detects problems sources and resolves them makes a major contribution to keeping you online when disaster strikes.
An Action Plan
Each business manager or owner has to carefully consider the best approach to guard their company against communication failures and disruptions. A good way to start is looking into the options favored by other businesspeople in comparable situations. One approach well worth serious consideration is implementing a cloud-based communications solution. Cloud computing effectively delivers the key DRP essentials at a price significantly lower than the competing solutions. Cloud-computing is definitely increasing in popularity. For example, in the responses to a 2012 AT&T Business Continuity Study “54% of Texas executives indicated cloud computing is currently part of their corporate infrastructure.” An additional one out of seven (15%) of these executives planned “to invest in cloud computing in 2012.”