Maintaining business continuity is widely acknowledged as a priority for all professional organisations. In the digital age, where business communications are carried out across a variety of channels, the dependability of a company’s telecommunications infrastructure is vital to its long-term well-being.
As a consequence, the ongoing development and implementation of Disaster Recovery plans that prepare companies for unexpected technical failure are both important and commonplace. But does corporate attention on Disaster Recovery place a disproportionate focus on IT resilience and maintaining the data network?
With the telephone still regarded as the primary business communication tool, why is it that many companies still fail to integrate telephony into their Disaster Recovery plans? The financial and operational implications of telephone outage on business performance are huge. Conversely, the integration of leading-edge telephony systems into companies’ wider data networks not only offers major efficiency and productivity gains, it is also simple to implement and highly cost-effective.
Caller waiting: counting the cost
The potential impact of a loss of telephone service on businesses is significant. Not only can the absence of telephone communications have a considerable effect on efficiency and productivity, even more damagingly, it can have a detrimental impact on customer service, brand reputation and, of course, sales revenues.
But in the mobile age, the situation is totally avoidable if telephony is made an integral part of the data network – bringing office connectivity to all employees regardless of their location.
With such a lot at stake, companies could perhaps do more to ensure that business continuity strategies pay due consideration to telephony. Primarily, a change in culture may be required.
In the past decade, as the trend towards downsizing has gathered pace, responsibility for business telephony has shifted from the traditional Telecoms Manager to companies’ IT departments. But some IT staff still consider the telephone system to be separate from the data network and believe its management falls outside of the IT remit.
As such, IT departments often fail to take a strategic approach to implementing telephony systems that match business needs. This means that many companies are not only exposed to the catastrophic implications of telephone downtime, they are also failing to recognise the added-value that leading-edge telephony systems can provide as part of a unified communications approach.
Better connected: benefits of telephony
Beyond the obvious benefits of strengthening disaster recovery, updating the telephone system provides a great opportunity for companies to take advantage of additional functionality that can have a powerful effect on business performance.
Telephony systems that are integrated into the data network can provide powerful informatics to help companies manage their customers more effectively. Customer Relationship Management tools have become a key component in nurturing effective client relationships – but telephony can also play its part. Modern telephony applications can generate real-time data to help improve customer contact and empower employees to process calls intelligently. This allows management to monitor call trends, resource call centres optimally and manage operating costs more efficiently.
An engaged tone
To maximise the opportunities collaboration between IT and stakeholders across a company is required to identify business requirements and departmental needs – and establish how telephony can play its part in helping to meet them.
More effective engagement between IT staff and individual departments can lead to the development of holistic telecoms systems that respond to authentic drivers for change and meets businesses’ strategic objectives. In addition, companies that recognise the benefits of partnering with a trusted telecoms advisor to help identify key business requirements and develop solutions to address them, will ultimately be better-placed to succeed.
But irrespective of companies’ specific strategic needs – and the functionality enhancements that can help to deliver them – the most fundamental business requirement is that of business continuity. Resilience is not an option, it’s an obligation.
As global businesses cry out for robust disaster recovery plans and unified communications powered by sophisticated technologies, the traditional telephone could, quite literally, be well placed to answer the call. The decision to invest in telephony solutions that are aligned with modern business needs can no longer afford to be put on hold.
Chris Potts is the marketing director of ANT Telecom.
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