As businesses restructure and begin to reopen to a changed business environment, many are realizing the importance of disaster recovery (DR) and business continuity (BC) planning ― and how integral collaboration technology is to these plans.

Learn about CDW’s Digital Workspace Solutions and Managed Services.

For the last several months, CDW has been busy working with our customers to address these DR and BC needs. Managed services often play a role in these engagements. In this blog, I will cover how CDW helps customers prepare for disaster events, how we help organizations operate during them and, finally, how we can assist in managing the user experience during the reopening stages as well as the “new normal” that will follow.

Planning for Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity

Before CDW brings on new customers, there are discussions with these organizations regarding DR and BC plans. The pandemic has really brought to light the importance of having a BC plan where the technology is operational but there is an event that impacts the business itself.

This discussion often includes but is not limited to:

  • Architecture: Deciding where devices are residing, which could be on-premises, hosted by CDW, in a cloud and/or a hybrid model where aspects reside in a combination of destinations.
  • Mobile devices: Ensuring users have provisioned softphones/mobile devices.
  • Call Centers: Enabling emergency call centers or main information sharing numbers.

In these conversations, there is the obvious give and take where making everything redundant and planning everything is virtually impossible. It is critical to weigh the investment of time and money with what it protects you against. After the solution is in place, it is important to have scheduled times and frequencies to test the DR plans.

In many collaboration environments, a softphone or mobile client is available and often included in most licensed accounts. It is generally recommended that you provision those devices even if the user may not use them, just in case a situation such as a shelter-in-place order arises where the user is not able to access their hard phone.

Finally, with any call center or main number, you should consider enabling enough flexibility to be able to change to an emergency greeting or emergency close relatively quickly and easily. Most solutions today even have the ability for a privileged user to call in on their phone, authenticate and enable the emergency greeting or call flow over the phone.

Thankfully, because these conversations with customers took place prior to the COVID-19 situation, most of our customers were able to quickly transition their staffs to working from home.

Supporting DR/BC

Different shelter-in-place orders around the country pushed most companies to determine how to respond. While most organizations had a DR/BC plan, some did not — and even some of the ones that did have a plan needed immediate assistance to help them enable their users to function while working from home.

CDW’s Managed Services practice sprang into action for our customers in some of the following ways:

  • We made a bulk update of just under 1,000 mailboxes for voicemail to email to function (single inbox) and also worked with the customer to enable IP Communicator to function over the VPN.
  • We joined conversations with a customer to discuss its business needs and enabled almost 500 users to work from home (WFH) by the next business day.
  • We helped a customer provision 1,200-plus users across multiple applications by creating a custom script developed over a weekend.
  • We worked with a customer to enable mobile and remote access (MRA) on the fly to enable its agents to be able to work from home.

The above success stories are a small selection of how CDW’s Managed Services practice helped its customers.

The Future of WFH

Going forward, it is unclear if business will return exactly as it was prior to the pandemic. Some companies that were resistant to working from home may decide to allow workers to continue to work from home or possibly split between home and office.

In a recent event conducted by the Technology Service Industry Association (TSIA), it was estimated that 35 percent of companies will revert to their pre-COVID state, 10 percent will maintain their current state, 45 percent will morph their businesses to new value propositions, and 10 percent are not sure. This data is interesting in that it illustrates that while there is a certain percentage that will revert, there are many organizations that will adapt their business in some way.

Another takeaway from the TSIA event is that while the market was already trending toward Anything as a Service (XaaS), the pandemic is most definitely accelerating this shift. This explains why many service providers had already begun investing in services around XaaS-type solutions.

Whatever the situation may be for individual companies, it is certain that more people will have the ability to work from home going forward. This means that home internet connections and device performance will become critical, while softphones will become even more popular. CDW is focused on innovating and delivering new services to adapt to this increasing demand.