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12/11/2006
12:00 AM
Melanie Turek
Melanie Turek
Commentary
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Business Continuity: What's Your Plan?

These days, any organization that doesn’t have a business continuity plan in place is critically out of date. It’s not just the big threats that matter—things like terrorism, natural disasters, regional power failures, and so on. With an increasingly remote workforce, more companies are open to more interruptions to their business—because in a virtual workplace, even if interruptions hit on a local level, their effects reach far and wide.

It doesn’t take much: A single building could experience a power failure or Internet outage; a single region could be under weather constraints; a single team could be stranded far from where they normally work. In the virtual workplace, all these localized issues can have broad effects on the larger organization, since most workers must interact and collaborate with a wide group of dispersed employees, partners and customers. If those peers are unable to “get to work”—not just sit at their desks, but communicate as well—the consequences will be felt throughout the enterprise. It doesn’t take long for the change to impact customer satisfaction, and the company’s bottom line.

As a result, more companies are taking a hard look at business continuity—essentially, the ability to keep the business running, customers served, and employees productive, regardless of any interruption to standard operating procedure.

One key way to ensure superior business continuity is to have a clear, well designed plan in place for keeping communications going. This should go beyond simple notification procedures and include unified communications—including VoIP, conferencing and presence-based applications—so that employees and partners can continue to communicate and collaborate to keep the business on track.

Of course, companies can benefit from these critical communications technologies on a regular basis, to boost productivity, support the virtual workplace, dramatically improve ROI and positively impact the bottom line. But many companies that want to deploy such technologies are looking for ways to justify the investment. Making conferencing and collaboration tools a valuable part of the business continuity plan can help achieve that ROI goal—and get the corporate purse strings to open up.

Companies should develop and implement an on-demand conferencing and collaboration plan that supports business continuity for the enterprise and its customers. The plan should detail what technologies to use when; how to handle the specific needs of office-based and remote employees; and how to define and determine when to put the plan into action.

To learn more about the role unified communications can play in business continuity, please join me for a Webinar this Thursday, December 14 at 9:00 am PST.

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