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Weathering the Storm: How to Build an Effective Long-Term Business Continuity Plan

Channel partners need to help their customers set up emergency response collaboration tools and encourage businesses to invest in these platforms now.

Channel Partners

December 24, 2014

3 Min Read
Weathering the Storm: How to Build an Effective Long-Term Business Continuity Plan

By Alphonzo Albright

Bad weather and other disruptions can cripple any business. With a plan in place, however, companies can continue their business processes during such events — instead of resuming work afterward. I have had my share of working through bad weather. It was in my backyard … and my basement. I live in Long Beach, New York, an area severely hit by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. All along the East Coast, Sandy caused severe flooding and damage — particularly in New York City, New Jersey and the south shore of Long Island. In the aftermath, residents and businesses were out of power, and I was out of the office for 17 days. I spent that time working out of my car, driving near still-functioning cell towers to connect to the Internet through my cellphone. This way, I could still conduct meetings with co-workers and stay productive despite the monumental obstacles Mother Nature was throwing at me. While I recognize that Sandy was a once-in-a-generation storm, the experience underscores how detrimental a storm like that can be to conducting regular business operations.

And it illustrates why businesses must be prepared ahead of time.

Disruptions can happen at any time. From the pre-Thanksgiving winter weather in Buffalo and New York City, to blackouts, earthquakes, transit strikes — even something as terrifying as 9/11 — business is fragile. And businesses that do not adequately prepare themselves with continuity strategies are going to be left searching, and paying handsomely, for answers. Channel partners need to help their customers set up emergency response collaboration tools. Given that winter is here, and companies are in the spending mood, now is the time for channel partners to encourage businesses to invest in these platforms. Setting up a collaboration system is critical in alleviating the effects of emergencies that are bound to arise.

How the Channel Will Make a Difference

It’s the holiday season and chances are, you’ve already walked into a retail store. What are they selling? Coats and hats perhaps, but at a discounted rate. Instead, they are promoting their summer lines now — well ahead of the season. When selling business continuity platforms, channel partners should act in the same manner.

It’s all about being proactive. When major disruptions take place, businesses often are forced to close. According to figures released by the Federal Reserve earlier this year, the severe weather that hit much of the country last winter cost the economy 76,000 jobs and nearly $50 billion in lost productivity.  So, rather than planning how to recover after a disruption, channel partners should work with businesses to deploy communications tools that mitigate the negative impact of severe weather and other emergencies.                                        

That’s because being able to collaborate face-to-face in real time allows for faster decision-making while ensuring people’s safety during an emergency. The ability also helps businesses avoid operational stoppages, such as those caused by aversion behavior. This is an issue that plagues businesses during inclement weather or a national emergency such as the Boston Marathon bombing or Ebola patients in the United States. People are wary about leaving their homes when such crises happen. But remote collaboration can prevent a total loss in productivity during these events. Employees are able to work from home even in the face of an emergency, saving organizations money and time, and preventing bottlenecks.

Both real-time and long-term solutions can radically reduce wasted hours and monetary losses that occur during severe weather and emergency situations. As the fiscal year comes to a close, many businesses have money to spend; why not use it to implement widespread video collaboration tools? The cost of waiting could be so much higher.

Alphonzo Albright is Polycom’s global director of government solutions and market development.

 

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