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Unified communications can enhance business continuity strategies

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The telecommunications landscape experienced several significant changes in 2012, each of which will force managers to reconsider how the office phone system is managed and used in the workplace in 2013. A recent report by Fierce Enterprise Communications highlighted some of these transformations, noting that several technological shifts had a more monumental effect than other less substantial developments.

The ongoing migration away from legacy networks to SIP trunking is among the biggest changes witnessed in 2012, the news source said. This is largely because SIP trunking can completely change the traditional business phone system, enabling firms of all sizes to support a multitude of collaborative applications beyond the conventional voice platform.

SIP trunking also gives decision-makers the unique opportunity to leverage unified communications, which is becoming increasingly important in today's highly mobile and fast-paced corporate setting, Fierce Enterprise Communications reported.

Furthermore, decision-makers are beginning to adopt SIP trunking, unified communications and other advanced solutions to improve their disaster recovery plans. After witnessing the catastrophic impact Hurricane Sandy had on companies across the East Coast, enhancing business continuity plans became a top priority.

Communications as a disaster recovery tool

The advent of the hosted phone system and bring your own device (BYOD) has helped organizations keep communications intact in the wake of a disaster by supporting multiple tools for collaboration and giving individuals the ability to work remotely. Unified communications is highly advantageous for firms trying to enhance business continuity strategies. This was highlighted in a recent TechTarget report, which said video conferencing is a particularly useful solution when individuals need to stay connected.

"Video collaboration is about immediate access to global resources for disaster recovery," said Ira Weinstein, partner and senior analyst at Wainhouse Research, according to TechTarget. "An [enterprise] or government can only put so many experts in the same place. Video collaboration tools for UC can overcome travel delays, time zone differences and can keep the cadence in conducting business."

TechTarget said phones have always had a significant role in a disaster recovery program, as communication is essential to restoration. Video, on the other hand, enables decision-makers to survey the damage themselves. This is especially important if cellular towers are knocked down, impairing a company's use of smartphones and other mobile gadgets.

Enterprises and small businesses alike will always need an effective disaster recovery strategy if they wish to remain competitive in today's private sector and keep communications running in the wake of an emergency. If decision-makers are still using a legacy telecommunications system, however, it will be harder for organizations to restore operations and get back on their feet, impairing their ability to support long-term growth.

Executives need to consider updating their existing phone system for 2013, especially if they are still using antiquated equipment. Fortunately, there are a number of offerings available on the market today, including cloud or unified communications systems.