Despite the popularity of new communication tools in today's industries, phones remain the nucleus of many businesses. They’re the easiest, most convenient, and most accessible way of communicating and collaborating with clients, customers, and colleagues. So it's easy to imagine the frustration when you find out that your phone service has suddenly been disconnected due to a natural disaster, network outage, or other unforeseeable circumstances. Fortunately, there are ways to minimize the risk of downtime and make sure you can protect yourself from losing connectivity again.
Mark Sher, the VP of Product and Marketing for Cloud Voice at Intermedia, offers a few insights on some of the most common causes of business communication downtime, what businesses can do when disaster strikes, as well as precautions a company should take to dodge downtime.
Common Causes of Communications Downtime
In order to avoid the hassle, headache, cost, and other consequences associated with downtime in your communications, it pays to identify its potential causes first. According to Intermedia, here are some of the common culprits that can bring a business’ communications system to a halt:
Fire: Fire destroys a company’s building/a neighboring building; sprinkler system or water from fire department damages the on-site phone system; fire suppression chemicals damage equipment
Flood: Flooding shuts down a company’s building; flooding shorts out the on-site phone system; flooding at phone company switch shuts down the system
Power outages: Lightning strikes a power pole; power outage shuts down locale phone system switch; short circuit from broken down wiring insulation causing circuit damage; power surge
Hardware failures: On-site PBX system crashes; cooling fans shut down and PBX overheats; phones overheat; misconfiguration or downloading of the wrong configuration
Theft: PBX hardware gets stolen; thieves damage equipment looking for valuables; phones are stolen
Sabotage: Employee purposefully destroys a company’s PBX unit; phone company site hit by saboteurs, ransomware or other virus infects the company and shuts down network and phone lines
Accident: Employee spills coffee on PBX unit; car crashes into power or phone line pole; construction worker digs into underground phone or power lines
The Cost of Communications Downtime
Communications downtime, regardless of the cause or the extent, can have a considerable impact on a business’ operations and bottom line. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), 40% of small businesses go out of business when faced with an unplanned disruption. Similar findings from the Disaster Recovery Preparedness Council’s State of Global Disaster Recovery Preparedness annual report also reveal that, in 2014, 38.3% of businesses lost up to $20,000 due to losing critical IT services (like phones) or data, 10% lost up to $100,000, and 19.6% lost more than $50,000 to over $5 million.
Such alarming figures only indicate that businesses need to develop and implement a strong disaster recovery plan. Otherwise, they may fall victim to the consequences and find themselves paying a hefty price.
How VoIP Helps Businesses Get Back to Business Faster
The key to surviving a disaster or potential downtime is having the right tools and strategies in place. And one of the best weapons a business can have against downtime is a cloud-based phone system.
During downtime, a cloud-based or Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) solution (specifically a hosted solution) helps companies get back to business much faster when compared to a traditional phone system. This is because a cloud-based system is simple to setup and manage. A company does not have to worry about protecting, upgrading, and maintaining server equipment because all of this is handled by the service provider. Another advantage is that VoIP-ready phones are plug-and-play. You can easily move your phones from place to place and be able to use them anywhere instantly as long as there’s an internet connection.
However, it’s not enough to simply have a cloud-based phone solution. To protect your company against downtime and guarantee business continuity (even when disaster strikes), it’s crucial to choose a cloud phone service provider that is capable of handling disruptions.
A Worry-Free Experience with Intermedia
When it comes to communications downtime, Sher says Intermedia ensures its customers are protected. Intermedia’s cloud voice solution offers “Double Coverage,” which protects a business in two ways:
Network reliability - Intermedia’s cloud network delivers 99.999% uptime for their business voice services. This means Intermedia’s network will be available even if a company’s local phone service isn’t. Their network reliability is attributed to their architecture, multi-region data centers, software deployment strategy, and aggregation of tier 1 telecom centers, among others
Business continuity - Intermedia also protect its users against local-level failures with its suite of business continuity features, such as:
- Automated Attendant - hosted on the Intermedia Network, this feature ensures all calls are answered and routed properly even if a company has issues at its office.
- Automatic re-routing - if office phones are down, calls are automatically re-routed to a cell phone or other phone.
- Plug-and-play phone relocation - lets a business and its employees move phones quickly with plug-and-play install.
- Mobile softphone contingency - allows employees to make calls from their mobile device as if they were in the office.
In addition, Intermedia recently announced its integration with Microsoft 365, which seeks to enhance the Office 365 user experience through integrated, value-added service packages. It includes the following:
- SecuriSync backup – Secure O365 file sharing, backup, and restoration, with full administrative control
- Email Continuity – Access O365 email even during outages
- Cloud Voice – Enhance O365 with a feature-rich enterprise-grade phone system that includes 24/7 support and a 99.999% SLA
- Email Archiving – Get complete O365 email preservation with separate infrastructure for greater security
- Encrypted Email – Protect all outbound O365 emails with flexible and customizable policies to help comply with industry regulations
- Outlook Backup – Backup all O365 mailbox data, including emails, calendar, and contacts
Overall, Intermedia seeks to improve business communications and the entire user experience by bringing solutions that provide security and reliability to companies.
Sher also advises that aside from a robust communications system, it is imperative for businesses to come up with a comprehensive disaster recovery plan. Sher believes that a good disaster recovery strategy must include these 3 key components:
- Emergency Response Plan: This covers all the necessary steps a business should take in the event of an emergency (e.g, fire, earthquake, flood). Consider how you will evacuate employees and critical assets, handle injuries, and other plans to protect human and material resources.
- Crisis Communications Plan: How you communicate with customers, partners, and other stakeholders in times of crisis is also crucial. Determine what information you need to disclose to stakeholders as well as who will deliver that message.
- Business Continuity Plan: A business continuity plan details how operations will continue during a disruption. It’s important for companies to specify the exact steps to be taken before, during, and after the disruption, as well as the members who will be tasked to perform those.
Intermedia is a provider of cloud-based business applications and is also the world's largest independent provider of cloud Microsoft® Exchange email. Established in 1995, Intermedia aims to help businesses simplify and focus on their operations, not on IT. Thus, they have developed the Office in the Cloud™ suite, a robust solution that provides customers access to over 30 services from a single provider. Intermedia’s Office in the Cloud integrates essential IT services, such as voice, email, backup and file sharing, collaboration and instant messaging, conferencing, mobility, identity and access management, and more.
Intermedia ensures a worry-free experience to customers by offering security, reliability, onboarding, as well as support and regulatory compliance. To date, they serve over 75,000 companies from different industries including enterprises, construction, manufacturing, financial services, healthcare, and legal. They also have over 6,000 active partners, including value added resellers, managed services provider, distributors, and telcos.
For more information about Intermedia’s cloud phone system and its other solutions, please visit their website.