Now that Unified Communications (UC) has been around a while, you are likely well-versed on the benefits of UC platforms, or may have even already deployed one yourself. There are the security aspects, end user satisfaction, and perhaps at the forefront of your mind – savings. Then there are the suggested policies and best practice methods. But if your business is heavily dependent on communications, have you considered how you can leverage Unified Communications to benefit your business in the event of an emergency?
Disaster recovery planning optimized with Unified Communications should be an essential component of your IT strategy and emergency preparedness. One great benefit of the flexibility and mobility of unified communications is that it enables seamless implementation of disaster recovery strategies. UC technologies provide a whole new degree of integration and collaboration among employees, enabling secure data traffic through a single application regardless of location. In any emergency, it is important that uninterrupted communications capabilities are maintained at all times. We narrowed down the top four ways to optimize Unified Communications in case of a disaster:
- Evaluate Possible Scenarios— How would different scenarios affect your business? For example, would you take different measures during an earthquake as opposed to a flood? How about a systems attack, virus, or other type of infrastructure failure? After identifying some specific scenarios, you may want to identify the various general types of disaster you want to be prepared for. It is helpful to determine what aspects of your business will be most affected in these situations, and determine how UC will perform and assist in your preparation and response.
- Geographic Diversity–If your company is geographically dispersed, you have an inherent capacity for redundancy that you can take advantage of. Routing communications and other processes to your various locations – whether they are in the same state or different countries – could be an ideal solution during disaster situations. Unified Communications helps make this possible. Alerting all divisions or departments within your organization of a major event as well as taking note of theirs can help smooth the recovery process. Reaching out to disaster recovery services, such as remote workstations, offsite data storage, and collocated branches is also a good idea. The effectiveness of this was demonstrated during the September 11, 2001 attacks when disaster recovery services provided office space and restored operations for many displaced businesses.
- Remote Productivity and Remote Workers –UC is commonly associated with desktop productivity, but with the use of mobile devices consistently increasing, it is beneficial to become familiar with methods to increase your company’s remote productivity. This can become particularly critical during a disaster, so it is essential to be prepared rather than waiting for disaster to strike. A good starting point is to fully understand the tools and resources necessary to enable remote productivity. You may also want to consider requiring users to work from home a few days every year, or rotating workers through home-office test runs to ensure they are comfortable with the Unified Communications platform you utilize and can effectively use UC if they are unable to make it to the office in the event of an emergency.
- Consumer Technologies— Unified Communications has the ability to interface with consumer technologies, such as instant messaging and social media, and can display the presence and availability of mobile workers. This capability can be crucial in times of disaster. By employing the same technology across the board, UC allows employees to access the same tools and communicate remotely even in a disaster situation.
Planning ahead and evaluating your disaster recovery plan can be very beneficial to your business. With a solid plan in place you can avoid preventable mistakes when the time comes to take action. This list provides a starting point, but if you really want to leverage your investment, particularly in times of emergency, makes it a priority to not only devise a plan, but continually test and update your recovery plan with current trends.
For more on current trends in disaster recovery and business continuity planning, check out what our friends at CSO have to say. Click here to download the CSO guide to basics of disaster recovery planning.