Voice – the vital ingredient

Voice – the vital ingredient

Andrew Bale, CEO, Resilient Networks
Andrew Bale, CEO, Resilient Networks

Andrew Bale, CEO of Resilient Networks, says that with less than three months before the start of the London 2012 Olympics, there is a reinvigorated focus on ensuring that businesses in the UK are equipped to handle the expected disruption – and with good reason

The UK expects visitors from 205 nations during the London 2012 Games, which means an approximate turnaround of 7.5million individuals who attend various events. This influx of people will create an overwhelming amount of pressure on the UK’s physical and virtual infrastructure, not to mention the communications networks.

UK businesses are however woefully under-prepared for the level of disruption that will inevitably occur during the Games. Recent research conducted by Resilient Networks, which surveyed 100 enterprise IT decision makers and 1,000 London-based employees, showed that as many as 75% lack total confidence that their continuity plans will be effective during the Olympics.

The research went on to reveal the dangerous weak spot in the ICT infrastructure of UK organisation – incoming phone calls. The research showed that 80% of IT decision makers admitted that losing inbound voice communications would be business destroying or seriously disruptive to overall operational effectiveness. And yet, only 45% confirmed that their current continuity plans covered how incoming calls were handled when staff could not reach their normal place of work. And when asked how they manage inbound calls when they are away from their desk, 33% of London-based workers said they managed their calls via voice mail, 21% through the use of a company mobile, 14% through the use of personal mobile and 5% relied on archaic pager technology.

 

I doubt that there is a CEO out there who would sanction the level of inbound calls being dropped that this research suggests there may be during London 2012. For businesses and organisations, inbound calls are critical, not only from a revenue generation perspective, but also from a brand and reputation point of view – customers and suppliers base their perceptions on being able to speak to a person on the end of the line.

So with transport networks overwhelmed, and many businesses putting in place ‘working from home’ policies, how exactly will companies ensure all inbound calls reach the right people at the right time?

The response to this is often the same – ‘all my employees have mobile phones.’ Not only is this a naïve approach to voice continuity planning, it also simply will not suffice. Sure, it’s fine for outbound calls, but when talking about inbound call handling it brings with it too many questions – does everyone have the mobile numbers they need? When will people know that they should use the mobile rather than desk number in instances of unexpected disruption? How does a large company centrally manage wide-scale mobile use? And can you guarantee the appropriate level of customer experience in this way?

Businesses need to ensure they have a robust, agile inbound voice solution in place in order to ensure voice continuity. The right solution is an asset to an organisation, enabling business continuity while also enhancing customer experience and empowering staff to work remotely – with the inbound number remaining the same whatever the situation. It has the potential to act as a lifeline, especially during times of disruption.

This is where cloud-based voice solutions, such as the one Resilient Networks provides, come into their own. These technologies can help companies to improve business agility by removing the reliance on location or device for inbound calls – key during times of disruption or remote working. These solutions also enable organisations to centralise infrastructure to build more robust and efficient services, giving workers the ability to receive calls wherever they are, through a single number. The implementation of the right voice continuity technology can therefore make it easy for a company’s IT department to manage its voice infrastructure and can help to ensure that stakeholders reach the right person at the right time.

To some, London 2012 has already proved to be a challenge, especially the IT Manager who is being asked to guarantee business as usual during the event. My advice is this, start with your inbound voice capabilities – ensure you have solid foundations to enable remote working and a solution agile enough to redirect calls at the drop of hat remotely. If people can still reach who they need on the phone, you are more than half way to ensuring business as usual. And the Games provide an excellent opportunity to enable your business for more flexible working practices beyond the event.