VoiceNation has announced the results of a study that exposed shortfalls in most companies’ disaster recovery planning regarding critical voice communications. The result is that many organizations risk severe financial hardship and business disruption in the face of a disaster, natural or otherwise. Key findings included:
– 95% of companies agreed that there was a critical need for business continuity planning for voice communications
– Only 2% confirmed they had such a plan in place
– 100% stated daily operations would be interrupted if phones were shut down for an extended period
“Businesses spend thousands to back up their critical information and have disaster recovery plans in place for their data networks,” says Joe Schiavone, vice president of sales for VoiceNation. “But the results of this study lay bare the lack of importance many companies place on their voice communications emergency planning in the face of potential terrorism, pandemics, storms, and other threats.”
The 2005 telemarketing survey contacted 400 companies across the country, in industries including manufacturing, shipping, electronics, general contracting, and real estate. The survey found that while 381 out of the 400 companies agreed that there was a critical need for some sort of emergency plan if they lost their voice communication platform, only 6 out of the 400 businesses actually had some sort of plan in place. The most startling fact is that 100% of the companies surveyed stated that they would have to shut down for the day if their phones were shut down for an extended period.
Schiavone acknowledges this gap can be attributed primarily to businesses that consider themselves outside of traditional disaster zones, such as hurricane regions and earthquake centers. “If companies are not located on the Gulf Coast, California, or Tornado Alley, they feel that they are safe,” observes Schiavone. “The problem is that disasters come in many forms, from pandemics and terrorism, to a simple winter storm or power outage. A problem as mundane as a burst water pipe could shut down a phone system for days.”
“We thought we had a communications back up plan in place,” says Vivian Mitchell, network analyst for AIG United Guarantee. But when a snowstorm overwhelmed their voice service provider, United Guarantee’s 800 employees were unable to contact their employer. This survey confirms that many businesses find themselves in similar situations and lack a reliable back up voice communication solution.
Another common misperception is that call forwarding is a suitable response to the issue of disaster management. Many businesses feel that their employees can have all calls forwarded to their evacuation location or the location of another office outside the threatened area. The problem is that for call forwarding to work, a call must first come into the company PBX and then be routed to the new location. If the company network is down at the location where the incoming call is directed, that call is going nowhere. Says Mitchell, “It takes six to seven hours for our alternate location to go live. In that time, this number is the only way employees have to get updates.”
Schiavone cites the dire consequences of such interruptions in phone service stating: “Imagine customers trying to reach a business, but getting only dead air or the same static message over and over. Imagine orders going unfulfilled and distribution channels that are completely closed off. Imagine employees not knowing where or how to report in during a disaster and having no way of contacting their clients or customers. Now imagine how financially devastating all of this can be to a business, especially a small-to-medium sized organization.”
To find out more about the study or to request a copy of VoiceNation’s “Ten Tips for Staying In Touch and Staying In Business” click this link.