How UC Can Help Manage Crises During Downtimes

Unified Communications is a proactive way wherein companies can prepare for unnecessary communication downtime. During the times that business sustainability is being weakened by crises, it can hold the fort while management finds ways and means to manage the latter.

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Unified Communications (UC) is a new technology that integrates communication tools to empower organizations and individuals to manage all their communications as a whole. It connects VoIP and other technologies related to communications.

Kinds of Communication Downtime

Business communications can have downtime or interruptions. The two general causes of downtime are planned downtime and unplanned downtime. Monitance defines planned downtime as “scheduled upgrades and routine maintenance of hardware and software will take place.” Clients are informed in advance and  reminded if downtime is planned. On the other hand, unplanned downtime happens when unexpected events occur like a system crash. Some of the major reasons of unplanned downtime software crashes (hacking/data corruption/viruses), failure of hardware, human errors, or natural calamities. Organizations with unplanned downtime must update their clients to assure them that steps are being done to fix the problem.

Consequences of a Downtime

Lost Productivity Resulting in Lost Revenue. There is a loss in productivity due to unavailability of core systems. Companies lose money every minute that there is unavailability of core systems. Globalscape reports that 60 percent of their enterprise employees said that a single hour results to a loss of $250,000 to $500,000.

An example would be that of the customers of the airline company Virgin Blue. Virgin Blue passengers were outraged when they could not board their scheduled flights during an 11-day outage. The company received a lot of negative press and lost  millions in profits. This hardware failure resulted to an outage of the internet booking, reservations, check-in, and boarding systems. The downtime started September 26 and was restored on October 6. Navitaire, the reservations management company of Virgin Blue, compensated the said airline in damages up to $20 million.

Demoralized PeopleEmployees who work in a company that is interrupted with downtime can be demotivated. There are staff who work based on commission who have to hit their monthly targets. Intermittent disruptions can result in their not achieving their targets. Incovo reports that “businesses collectively lose more than 127 million person-hours annually – or an average of 545 person-hours per company – due to IT downtime.”

These two consequences in turn snowball into other damaging repercussions:  loss of customers, bad public relations, and loss of credibility, among others.

How UC Can Address Downtime Through Efficient Business Communications

Unified Communications can minimize the effects of downtime in various ways. If UC itself is not affected by the IT slow down, its various platforms can be used to address the cloud of complaints that will be arising from the various shareholders. While the company finds solution to fix the problems, UC can communicate updates, answer questions, and overall project an image of confidence and competence to the general public. While that will not solve everything, it can soothe calm nerves, win over the public, and generally minimize public relations damage.

For example, UC’s social media component can respond to complaints on real-time. It can assure the watching public that the company is on top of its game and is fixing the issue. UC can issue the same content through email, public relation posts, blogs, and its website.

Another way that UC can use business communications in downtime situations is that it can communicate the battle plan to all the employees who might be located in various parts of the globe. Management and executives can assure them of how they will address the problem, and then lay out the strategy by which the company – and the employees themselves — can help by communicating the same message to their customers and partners.

UC can also be a component of a company’s disaster recovery plans. In an event of a power outage or natural disaster, it can route incoming calls to client interface, remote desk phones, cell phones, and alternate locations of a business. These tools can be utilized on tablets and mobile devices for instant messaging or chat if there is unavailability of office machines.

A tech support specialist of TheLadders.com, Nicholas Giordano, remembered how Hurricane Sandy resulted to flooded streets and power outage in 2012. Because of the infrastructure, the office was not able to receive or make calls for a week. Thus, they shifted to cloud-based UC services, which is a disaster recovery plan as well as a business continuity plan.

Unified Communications is a proactive way wherein companies can prepare for unnecessary communication downtime.  During the times that business sustainability is being weakened by crises, it can hold the fort while management finds ways and means to manage the latter.