2020 was the year of ‘work from home’, but was it a golden age of digital productivity? Despite a serious influx of investment and resources into cloud service providers, businesses often experienced frequent digital outages with their new solutions.
September 2020: Apple goes down for an entire night, locking users out of iCloud, iWork, the App store, Apple TV and music. Microsoft goes down, no Outlook, Teams, Azure, or office products for 200 million users – even bringing the 911 hotline down for 14 US states. December 2020: Google goes down for 47 minutes, locking 6 million businesses out of emails, video conferencing, calendars, and their own documents. January: Slack goes down for over 3 hours on the first working day of the year.
A great start to 2021, and with no clear end in-sight for lockdowns and work from home arrangements, are these digital outages acceptable?
Mark Zuckerberg stated that even the Facebook group, including WhatsApp and Instagram, was “just trying to keep the lights on” in the face of soaring usage. The tech industry wasn’t prepared, and neither were national broadband networks – some countries lost internet altogether due to increased pressure from bandwidth draining programmes like video conferencing.
Businesses were forced to accelerate their digital transformation plans by 6 years in the span of 2 months, and in the rush, many did away with proper research or abandoned their operating requirements. Some businesses found that different teams chose platforms which couldn’t connect with each other, while business partners had yet another platform that couldn’t interoperate. Businesses that hadn’t set up cloud systems forced staff to send important files over personal devices, unsecured connections, or to talk with partners and colleagues over instant messengers – which breaches GDPR laws and could see fines of 20 million euros.
How to prepare for our new normal?
Outages will surely happen again, and they are out of our control. Whether it be because of big tech, small tech, governments, or local networks – the only way to move forward is preparation.
Does your business have a clear disaster recovery plan and protocol in place? One that outlines how your business can operate, communicate, and collaborate when disaster strikes or services are offline? While many businesses often have a business continuity plan – especially required for certifications such as ISO 27001, practical steps and actions to take during a digital outage is often missing from BCPs.
It’s wise to consider:
- What systems and data (files, records etc) need to be back online urgently – and how can you get them back online or access the same functionalities/ data through other means
- Who do you contact in the case of a digital outage and do you have this information freely accessible
- Communications that need to be sent to staff and customers – how and when to send them
- Policies on staff using personal devices for work (to prevent legal risk)
Problem-solving with cloud service providers
Most businesses now rely on cloud services in some form or another, and the IoT ecosystem will continue to connect more of our daily lives. In many cases when a business suffers a digital outage by issues with their service provider, the first reaction is to contact an account manager. This can be tedious – and most providers work with multiple partners to outsource many of their operations. If it sounds like a house of cards, then maybe it is?
Take Zendesk for example, their cloud contact centre is powered by Twilio, which is powered by Amazon Web Services, adding multiple layers of service providers to the mix. If a customer faces a digital outage caused by a server issue, they would need to talk to Zendesk, who would go to Twilio, who would go to Amazon. Answers and solutions would be lost in an unnecessary sea of endless circles and frustrations. By the time services are back online, they wouldn’t have had a chance to reply to you and many of their other 200,000+ customers and you have no answers to whether this will happen again, and how to communicate it to your customers.
Supporting businesses during the pandemic with tools for remote collaboration and customer engagement, CINNOX is a true end-to-end solution with no intermediaries. Leveraging a global infrastructure and partnership with 160+ global tier-1 carrier partners, CINNOX delivers double redundancy through a private and public cloud service model – enabling businesses to access their data and stay connected even if one goes down. This puts user experience at the fore of communications technology – and ultimately keeps businesses connected to their customers.
CINNOX brings together all of the channels your customers prefer, so even if Mark’s lights go out, you still have WeChat, or Web Widgets, SMS, or Virtual Numbers all in the same platform to fall back on. With an integrated CRM you don’t lose track or your customers or staff, and CINNOX Reports give you the full scope of all your business communication – for both customers and staff.