By Sanjay Macwan, Chief Information Security Officer
In the famous book, The World Is Flat, Thomas Friedman articulated how technological advances created a highly integrated and interdependent world where your employees, customers, and suppliers can be in any corner of the world. This phenomena also underscored the need for and opportunity to create a robust business continuity plan (BCP) for every business in the event of any disruption.
There’s no one-size fits all approach to growing your business or business continuity today. While there’s a proverbial mountain of resources out there for business leaders, from books to blog posts to podcasts that offer advice for every facet of building and maintaining an organization, every modern piece of advice on business continuity today has a common thread: there is no such thing as over-preparedness. Always expect the unexpected.
Changes to the economy, environmental changes, laws and regulations, the world around us, views on work/life balance, and technology can all quickly impact business continuity. How we as leaders deal with these changes goes a long way toward supporting business continuity - essentially a business’ ability to deal with contextual changes and threats to the organization.
Organizations that create ongoing processes for dealing with change rather than trying to deal with each issue as it arises, stand to enjoy competitive advantages over those that are not built to adapt to their dynamic surroundings.
On occasion, these changes may result in a crisis. As a leader, keeping your business operational during an emergency situation is a critical part of your role. Ensuring the safety and health of your employees while keeping customers happy is a most crucial leadership test when these crises arise.
Maintain Business Continuity With People, Processes, Technology
Even in the age of hyper automation, employees are the nervous system that keeps any business running and serving customers optimally. As such, at the core of any business continuity plan one must think about people first - both employees and customers you seek to serve. What tools, processes, and guidance are you arming your employees with in order to best serve the customers in the event of a disruption? Your employees are best served by well defined and previously exercised processes that deliver alternative means to get the work done on behalf of the customers. One of the most important aspects of this is bi-directional omnichannel customer communication capabilities. This means your customers should be able to communicate requests and needs to employees on their preferred channel. Part of this need includes the ability for your employees to collaborate with each other without the barrier of geography, timezone, or device. This is best achieved by cloud based communication and collaboration tools that are accessible from anywhere, anytime, and in any mode of voice, video, or messaging.
From site-specific issues to major environmental crises, cloud-based communications solutions keep your business moving smoothly. With cloud communications, teams can stay connected without worrying about losing contact with customers. Furthermore, technology based in the cloud helps by keeping data and resources accessible during a disaster. This means businesses can remain operational even when the unexpected happens.
In times of emergency, technologies such as cloud communications platforms can even facilitate conversations between individuals like doctors and patients.
Remote Work Is Happening, Disaster or Not
Even if disaster hasn’t struck, your organization is likely to have experienced change in other ways. For example, you’ve likely seen a rise in the number of work-from-home employees, a trend that seems to be accelerating. According to the International Workplace Group’s 2019 Global Workplace Survey, “half of business people globally work outside one of their main office locations half the week or more” and “62 percent of businesses worldwide currently have a flexible workplace policy.”
While a natural disaster may expedite the shift to widespread remote work, the movement toward a more distributed workforce has been growing organically. Research suggests that remote work is effective and that workers can even be more productive at home.
Rather than try to stop this inevitable shift in the way we work, business leaders can instead embrace our ability to bring the office anywhere. To help them prepare for this new paradigm, they can turn to technologies that specifically allow for productive, efficient, and easy remote work that can be a pillar of business continuity.
For example, a cloud-based mobile office solution allows organizations to manage business phone systems remotely, connect geographically distributed workers, and share and access information easily. Or, consider communication platforms that allow employees to enjoy the same voice, video, and messaging capabilities, at the same quality whether they work in a coffee shop, their kitchen, or a temporary office environment.
There is no shortage of technology solutions that enable companies to encourage remote work. At the heart of any technology solution stack should be communications technology that helps employees work from anywhere, encouraging business continuity no matter how far apart team members are from one another.
Change Happens; How Will You Deal With It?
More likely than not your organization is experiencing change, whether in the form of unexpected challenges or new trends in the way we work. Keeping employees happy and productive and customers satisfied are even more difficult tasks in times of change. Luckily, modern cloud-based technology solutions can help make business continuity a cinch, even in times of crisis. If you focus on implementing technology that bridges the gaps—physical and otherwise—between disparate parts of your enterprise, you’ll find you can withstand even the most difficult of unexpected challenges and maintain continuity.